18 October 2022

International trainee programme: “I learned a lot in my time on the shop floor”

Bratislava, Czech Republic, Cologne: Jana Sipkova completed the international trainee programme at REWE International AG. In this interview, she sums it up.
Reading time: 5 min.

After university, Jana Sipkova went into consulting but soon realized that she wanted a new start doing something more practical. That’s exactly what she found on the international trainee programme at REWE International AG. In this Interview, Jana explains why her market assignment was so valuable and how she experienced her various stations in Europe.

You studied Management and International Business. Why did you opt for a trainee programme at REWE International AG, a retail company?

Jana Sipkova: I did some consulting after I graduated, but I wanted to gain more practical knowledge and gain experience of living and working abroad. My studies were very general by design, and we learned a little bit of everything. But that meant that I wasn’t able to figure out what area best suited my interests. So I specifically looked for a trainee programme. The international trainee programme at REWE International AG offers precisely this combination of practical knowledge and experience abroad.

Jana Sipkova

started as an International Management trainee at REWE International AG and currently works as Lead Strategy CEE at REWE International AG.

That means you also worked in the stores as part of the programme?

Jana Sipkova: Yes, that’s right. The program started right away with a six-month assignment in retail, at both Billa and PENNY stores. I really learned a lot there.

Jana Sipkovas started the program right away with a six-month assignment in retail, at both Billa and PENNY stores.

Like what?

Jana Sipkova: For one thing, it is a completely different world to working in an office, and it was both interesting and challenging. I stocked shelves at first, and I then later took on smaller management tasks. That’s how I learned what effects the decisions from headquarters have on daily work. You look at many issues from a new perspective. In addition, as a student and administrative employee, I am not used to the physical work that is required on the shop floor. I now have respect for that. Last but not least, I realized that people on the shop floor communicate in a different way to the people in administration. That was also an important experience. I now cannot imagine starting an office job at REWE International AG without having had this experience.

What did you do after that?

Jana Sipkova: After that I went to Bratislava, where I spent a month with a regional manager, before moving over to Billa Slovakia in Bratislava in November 2021. There I was able to take on a country-specific project and decided to focus on marketing our private label brands. During those four months, there was a strict lockdown due to COVID, which meant that I unfortunately didn’t get to experience much of the routine office life. Nevertheless, I gained many important insights into this part of the retail world. I analysed the current status of private label brands in the country and prepared some initial steps for further development.

After that, I went back home to the Czech Republic for two months, where I was able to gain some insight into strategy and project management, and e-commerce. For my three months at the headquarters in Cologne, I chose sustainability projects at PENNY in order to gain additional experience of this business division. The trainee programme concludes with a focus phase in which you are gradually trained for your future job. For me, this will be in project management in the strategy department at Billa CEE in Wiener Neudorf.

The trainee period really seems to contain a lot of variety and change. What support do you receive during this time?

Jana Sipkova: We communicate on a regular basis with our contacts in Human Resources. They are always available for questions and are happy to receive our feedback. During my time as a trainee, we also made some suggestions for improvement, and many of them have already been implemented for the next intake of trainees.

About three to four months before the end of the programme, HR begins finding potential positions for the trainees. Together, we discuss what the REWE group has to offer, and which interests the trainees want to pursue, with the goal of finding the right match. That worked really well for me.

Looking back, what can you say and what are you looking forward to in your new position?

Jana Sipkova: First of all, I have to say that the trainee programme offers a very good overview of the different business divisions of the REWE Group. I really appreciate that. It was very exciting to learn first-hand about so many different places, and changing from one to another helped me quickly get used to a new environment. Now I am looking forward to my new job in Wiener Neudorf and being in one place for a longer period of time.