From Intern to Manager; Robert Campbell's Road to a Fulfilling Wegmans Career
Many people take their first dip into the working world as a high school student, looking to make some extra cash for activities with friends, or to put aside some savings for college. Most don’t expect their part-time gig to turn into a career, yet, for nearly 10,000 current Wegmans employees that first job has blossomed into a fulfilling profession. Almost 800 current employees have been with the company for 20 years or longer, and over 80 current employees have been with the company for 40 years or more. So, what makes Wegmans a place worth building a career? Aside from a range of great benefits including health coverage, 401K contributions, and competitive wages, Wegmans employees also have the opportunity to grow through development programs and internships.
At nearly 25 years old, our management internship (MI) program has over 1,300 alumni that are still employed with the company. Roughly 300 to 400 college students learn and grow through this program every summer. Management interns work in our stores for one to three summers leading up to their graduation from college.
Robert Campbell joined Wegmans in 2002 as a part-time cashier at our Pittsford, New York store and completed the MI program in 2008. Each summer, he worked 40 hours a week, rotating through different departments within the store and learning helpful skills for future roles including food production, tracking inventory, scheduling, and leadership skills for managing a team.
“The internship offers so many unique experiences that you wouldn’t have exposure to if you were just working part-time for the company,” said Campbell. “I got to be a part of the behind-the-scenes action. I saw firsthand the planning and development that goes into running this business.”
In addition to their day-to-day tasks, interns participate in weekly meetings and seminars including guest speakers, development days, and an annual community service day. During their final year, they complete a project aimed at improving some aspect of our business; from testing new e-commerce and digital sales tools, to mentoring inner-city work-scholarship employees.
Campbell’s senior project focused on employee engagement, and aimed to answer the question “what can we do for our current employees?” He wanted to highlight the importance of employee retention to the company, so he crunched the numbers to demonstrate that retaining employees is much more cost effective than hiring and training new ones. He also emphasized how important it is to provide current employees with opportunities to grow with their career, so they are interested in staying with the company.
“I set up a system mentoring a few employees at the store where I was working,” said Campbell. “I met with them on a weekly basis and helped them to set some career goals. From there, I assisted them with getting cross trained into different departments and learning new skills to move up with the company.”
The program culminates with a presentation of learnings for company leaders, where interns share details of the project they completed, as well as discuss their experience as a management intern and their career interests with Wegmans moving forward.
“Throughout my project, I tracked retention and included all the details in my final presentation,” said Campbell. “The company currently has a new hire follow-up process in place that uses a lot of the same elements that I had in my project. I like to think this process was inspired by my project in a small way.”
During Campbell’s final year of the MI program, he took advantage of a “new markets” trip with other interns to visit the areas where Wegmans was expanding and building new stores. Interns had the opportunity to explore the local community, shadow management at the new store, and get an idea of what future positions were available for them.
“I knew I wanted to grow with the company, so I went on the trip to explore my options,” said Campbell. “I received an offer for a position in Pennsylvania as a management trainee and I accepted that opportunity in October of my senior year. It was amazing to have a job locked in before even graduating, it really proved this is a place where I want to be.”
2 weeks after graduation, Robert loaded up his belongings and headed to PA to begin his position as a Wegmans management trainee (MT). The MT program prepares full-time employees for a management career at Wegmans. Participants hold more responsibility than interns and receive one-on-one support from a mentor. They step into the manager role on the days when their trainer is off to run the department in their absence. Lasting between 12 to 18 months, the intention is that the trainee will take on a management role at the completion of the program.
“One of the best parts of this program is the relationships I’ve been able to build,” said Campbell. “I can get on the phone and call my old mentors anytime. They really helped mold me into the person I am today, and my hope is to be that mentor for as many people as I can be.”
Every year, Campbell mentors new MTs in addition to his full-time work as perishable manager at the Wake Forest, North Carolina store.
“I feel it is my responsibility to pour back into the program and the people as much as possible,” said Robert. “I like to sit down and connect with the current management trainees regularly to make sure they are getting everything they need.”
Campbell emphasized that if you put in the work, these programs provide the opportunity to change your life.
“Who knows what might’ve happened without those experiences,” said Campbell, who not only started a new career when he relocated to PA but also met his future spouse. “I now have a wife and 3 children, all because I took a chance on this internship and job.”
Grow Your Career at Wegmans
If you’re interested in pursuing a career with Wegmans, now is the perfect time to apply. We currently have over 2,800 openings for part-time positions ranging from customer service to managerial positions. Spots are available throughout the company, from Rochester to Raleigh. To view our open jobs, please see here.