These grads told us why working up North after uni is the best decision they ever made
They’re managing teams of over 40 in their first year
There’s a reason why you chose that city up North for your uni experience. Some of the UK’s best nightlife and culture is in different pockets of the country – so why trade in any of that when it comes to your grad job?
We spoke to grads working for DHL Supply Chain and helping to manage huge warehouses straight out of uni, about why the North is the only way to go after graduation.
Charlotte, Sheffield Hallam grad, International Business Studies
Where are you currently working?
I’m currently working in Doncaster on DHL’s Emerging Talent team and I’m living in Sheffield. I’m not somebody who’s attached to one place, and DHL are all over the UK – Manchester, Sheffield, Scotland, and loads more places. There are opportunities wherever you want them and you get to see the UK in full, which is a massive plus if you want some variety in your grad role.
Did you go straight to DHL after university?
No, I worked for two years in insolvency for one of the Big Four. The role that I was doing there was really specific, and as I much as I liked it, there wasn’t much career progression for me as it wasn’t transferable.
I knew I wanted to work with people, and so the HR programme with DHL seemed like an obvious choice as it’s such an operational company. I wanted something fast-paced that I could roll my sleeves up and get into.
What’s it like to work for this sort of company as a grad?
It’s a really close-knit community despite the size of the company. We’ve got a group Facebook page of about 400 grads, which is added to every year, so it’s great to have that network behind you. It’s really sociable as well – recently our team went to the Doncaster races and there are loads of nights out throughout the year, where you’ll go to a lot of different places in the UK.
Do you see yourself staying there long term?
Definitely. There’s massive career progression and you never feel stagnant here. Your role is vital to the company – there are board members here who started off as grads. There’s a clear investment in young people in this company.
Tom, Birmingham, Anthropology with Politics
How have you found grad life in the North so far?
I’d say I’ve definitely got the best out of my grad job location. I’m from London myself, so coming to my current placement in Birmingham felt quite North for me. My first placement was in Manchester. I loved it up there – it’s a very up-and-coming city for young professionals with an unrivalled nightlife. I met a lot of people during my time there.
Wherever you are in the UK, DHL make an effort to arrange socials for the grads – we had a massive Christmas party and summer BBQ during my first placement.
Did they give you all the relevant training for this role?
In my first placement, I was given extensive training – they put you on loads of courses to further your knowledge, so I’m generally on a course a month, if not more sometimes. The investment in your career development is faultless and it’ll add tons to your CV.
You have to be ready to take on a lot when you arrive here, but you’ll never feel like you can’t get help from the people around you. DHL are really keen to facilitate their grads, so if you ask, you’ll get the support you need.
What’s your day-to-day like at DHL?
I am the First Line Manager for the control room in the Birmingham warehouse. I run a team who sort the data on forklift activity, report on it and distribute these reports to other managers within the business. We look at where we can make improvements and then provide solutions from there. It’s something that affects the business on a massive scale, so there’s never a dull moment.
What’s your favourite part of the job would you say?
My favourite part of the job is the people I work with. There’s no pretence with the people in this industry. Everyone comes in wanting to have a laugh, leaving their ego outside of work. There are team drinks on Fridays, and when I was in Manchester we’d always go for nights out in the city centre. There’s no snobbery here, and I think that’s testament to how diverse DHL is as a company.
Also, with DHL, you could go anywhere in the UK. As they’re the biggest supply chain company in the world, there’s even scope to go out to Hong Kong, New York, Australia and loads more places for secondments or full-time roles. The potential opportunities like that are a massive motivation.
Katie, Glasgow, Geography
Why did you choose up North for your grad scheme?
Up North, people are really friendly and there’s a lot of room to begin building your future and exploring the cities around you. I’m currently in Sheffield, and coming from Glasgow, I felt really welcomed here. I’ve met people from all over the UK on different teams and had the chance to really have an impact here.
What drew you towards DHL as a company?
A lot of people finishing their degrees around me were in a rush to get on a grad scheme, and ended up doing things that aren’t very fulfilling. Having worked in hotels during uni for a few years, I enjoyed the management aspect of that and so I really wanted the chance to go into a management role soon after graduating. DHL really invest into their grads, so I knew there wouldn’t be any glass ceiling holding me back from progressing.
How was the transition from uni to this role, having not studied a degree in this industry?
Really smooth – DHL are interested in people who are capable of organising themselves, rather than people who did a logistics degree. There are people who’ve studied History, Biology, Psychology, all sorts. If anything, Geography has given me a completely different angle in this industry, as there’s loads of human geography involved.
Was there a lot of responsibility given to you at the start?
I think in DHL, you get out what you put in. Quite soon after starting I was leading a team of 40 people by myself, which is something I don’t think you get in a lot of other companies. As long as you’re adaptable and able to work on your own initiatives, you’ll never feel like a small fish in this job. There are not many other places that offer this kind of route into senior management.