When most professionals think back to their time in college, many can identify with the feeling of being unprepared for the "real world." When job shadowing and internships provided the only opportunities to get a feel for what it's really like to apply your studies, post-grad life could seem daunting.
Today, major retailers and CPG companies have come together in partnership with Network of Executive Women (NEW) Carolinas chapter to provide students a look behind the "corporate curtain" to gain real exposure to both the retail and CPG sides of the grocery industry, as well as a greater understanding of the variety of job functions that exist within it, before having ever graduated college.
On Friday, March 23, about 20 UNC Charlotte and Winthrop University students gathered at a local Food Lion grocery store to do just this at NEW's sixth annual "Retail Adventure."
This NEW College Outreach event was hosted by Food Lion and led by NEW members as well as volunteers from the Women's Business Resource Group (WBRG) of Ahold Delhaize USA, Food Lion's parent company, with representation from Coca-Cola, Kimberly Clark Corporation, Mondelēz International, Kraft Heinz, and Unilever.
Developed in 2012 by NEW members Jill Simpson and Jennifer Caballero, the NEW College Outreach and Mentoring Committee's mission is to create a partnership with universities to promote industry education, networking and informal mentorships to attract top talent into the CPG/Retail industry and the Network of Executive Women.
Leading the event was Megan Diaz de Arce, Customer Category Manager at Mondelēz International, who kicked off the Retail Adventure by advising students that opportunities are endless in the retail and CPG industry.
Next, Natasha Brinegar, Vice President of Category Management at Food Lion provided students with key advice for this particular time in their lives, summing up the points in three key messages, including:
At the conclusion of Brinegar's speech, students rotated between leaders of eight different roles to learn about their individual functions, including food safety, district manager, supply chain, shopper/brand marketing, category manager, retail sales representative/data manager, account manager and project manager.
During 10 minute discussions with professionals who work in each of these capacities, students learned about ins and outs each role while gleaning advice and information about each representative's career path. To conclude the event, students learned about internship and entry level job opportunities.
Students left the event with new insight into what it takes to run a grocery business and the many different areas in which they could work inside of it.
"The grocery industry is special," Brinegar said. "It's a fast, ever-changing place. If you want a challenge to fuel your career, sign up today."
NEW allows its members to network with professional men and women in the retail and CPG industry, providing opportunities for mentorship as well as development of leadership and networking skills by attending NEW events featuring a variety of dynamic speakers.
For more information on how to join NEW, visit www.newonline.org. To keep up with Food Lion's partnerships, activities and community outreach, check back here on our Lion's Tale blog or follow us on Twitter @FoodLionNews.