I’m nervous. Assessment centres don’t always give you the best chance to show what you can do. I’m not totally sure about working for a car hire company either – I know very little about cars and my degree is in theology! Paul who heads up recruitment welcomes me and three other candidates and introduces us to the Area Managers who will be putting us through our paces. It’s a formal but personable atmosphere and it’s reassuring to know there are jobs for all of us if we perform well enough. The mixture of group and individual tasks gives a good chance to demonstrate competence and some good online research means I have a decent idea of what to expect. The day goes well on the whole although sadly the one-to-one interview doesn’t give me the chance to demonstrate the extent to which I’d memorised the company’s environmental policy the night before – never mind.
Now that I’ve been made a Management Trainee, success largely depends on my ability to work through the various goals and competencies that make up the four stages of our “training folder”. The training programme is supported but largely self-directed requiring lots of initiative. There’s also quite a transition from student life to corporate life and it takes me a bit of time to find my feet.
The sales part of the job initially doesn’t come easily to me. Fortunately, this is an area of strength for my Manager and I get some good coaching. Over time I gradually ascend from 90th place to the pinnacle of the sales league table, winning a paid day off with a trip to indoor skydiving as a reward. Other components of the training programme are designed to give a strong grounding in every aspect of the business including customer service, branch growth and fleet maintenance. My customer service presentation gives me an outlet for some creative thinking and is a definite highlight of the training folder for me. After discussions with my managers and a visit to another branch, I get the chance to present my ideas on how to improve customer satisfaction which is the cornerstone of the Enterprise business model.
“Running the day” is the essential proving ground for any aspiring assistant manager. This is the role of choreographing all the operational tasks in the branch while also driving branch sales and income and doing some complex problem-solving – a real challenge. Towards the end of your time as a Management Trainee, you are observed in this role by the Area Manager. Challenges with the availability of cars or last-minute bookings are inevitable. However, I’ve learnt that about 80% of day-running crises resolve themselves and the key is to remain calm. Fortunately, my audition goes well and feedback from my Area Manager Nick is generally positive. Sales lag early in the day but rally later on and although one customer has to wait ten minutes for their car to be cleaned, it is a good day for customer service.
With the training folder completed the next stop is the much anticipated and feared Management Qualification interview (MQi). I’m going in thinking it’s going to be something like the interview elimination round of The Apprentice and intermittently whistle the theme tune to myself throughout the day. There are three candidates including me, and each of us has seven (seven!) department head interviews to negotiate. The questions are tough but the interviewers are all friendly. I relax into the day and by the afternoon am spending breaks attempting to navigate the obstacle course in the park next to the regional office. Getting through the MQi results in a promotion to Management Assistant. This means a pay rise and most importantly eligibility to apply for Assistant Manager positions.
I have a good showing at my first Assistant Manager interview but am squeezed out by another strong candidate. Fortunately, the position becomes available at my own branch very shortly afterwards. Interviewing at a branch you’ve already worked at is a definite advantage and this time I’m successful.
It’s been a challenging and, at times, tiring journey but I’ve been able to get promoted to a leadership position in under ten months from starting with the company.
If you’re looking for a role that is challenging and allows you the opportunity to progress then this could be the right path for you too! Take a look at the current graduate job opportunities now.