“What do you want to be when you grow up?” It’s a question many of us were asked from the time we were in preschool or kindergarten, all the way through high school and college.
Many families take pictures of their little ones on the first day of school each year. Many of those kiddos hold up a sign that notes everything from their favorite color to their favorite subject to their plans for a future career. Those dreams can range from a super hero to a professional athlete to an artist, a firefighter, a teacher and a doctor. Not many children will say it’s their dream to work at a grocery store.
And most applicants don’t apply to Festival Foods with the intention of making the job a career. During the interview process, we frequently meet high school students looking for their first job, college students looking for a night and weekend job that will work around their class schedule, parents looking for a part time job during the day so they can be home with their kids after school. We also talk to people who might be near retirement or even those who have retired, but want to work part time to supplement their income and be on a team of like-minded people.
There’s a quote that goes, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.” And many of our current front end leaders had plans to work part time at Festival Foods for a few years have since changed that plan and made a new plan – a career with Festival Foods.
Here are their stories:
“I was hired in 2004 as a bagger. My parents made me get a job, and I was the shyest person on the planet back then. I wouldn’t have hired myself! I realized I wanted this to be my career when I realized coming to work was better than going to class in college — ha! But in all seriousness, it was when I became a Part Time Assistant Front End Manager. I discovered my passion for working with people, and loved how good I felt at the end of every day. Being happy with your job is unfortunately not as common as it should be – and I felt so lucky. Regardless of how stressful it was, I enjoyed what I did and I have looked forward to coming to work every single day. Then about 9 years into my career with Festival, I left for a short time to work for our family business. Taking a different job for a few months was a blessing in disguise – it opened my eyes to what I truly love about Festival – and the things that were missing from my life while I was away. This job makes you feel good about what you do, and makes you strive to be a better person in your personal life, as well. Everything we learn about leadership relates to our life at home. Working with the people we work with and building relationships with our guests gives us a reason to get out of bed each day. There are so many jobs out there that can cause you to lose sight of what’s important to you, and what is personally fulfilling. At Festival, I feel like I have a purpose every single day. The best part about this career is making a difference for our guests and seeing them happy when they walk out that door. I love hearing their feedback and facing different challenges every single day. We have such an awesome opportunity, being able to have such an impact on the lives of others. Also, working with people of all different ages and backgrounds is truly a gift. I love nothing more than helping our associates find their path and discover careers with Festival. Or even if it’s someone that isn’t looking for a career – helping them grow and building those relationships is extremely rewarding.” – Tesia, who will be the Front End Manager in our Madison store when it opens April 8.
“I was hired as a cashier in November 2006 when I was a senior at Oshkosh North high School. I didn’t intend to build a career with Festival until I was promoted to Head Bookkeeper. Now, almost 10 years later, I really enjoy working with all the people, especially the high school employees. I feel like everyone has so much potential no matter where they go, and to be able to encourage them every day and have them see it in themselves is special.” – Lauren, Front End Manager, Fond du Lac
“I was hired as a cashier in Onalaska when I was in high school. I did not intend to build a career when I was hired. I began to think of Festival Foods as a career when my Front End Manager began giving me new tasks, such as schedule writing and had a couple conversations about my future goals with me. … Dave Skogen also set up a meeting with me after I graduated college and had a one on one with me to discuss where I saw myself in the company. I had a lot of training and was ready to take on the role of Front End manager. My front end manager had me writing the schedule, running meetings, huddle ups, reviews and interviews, and coachings with associates. I was ready to step into the next position. I love the ability to see those that I have developed along the way succeed in our company. And I love working with our associates and our guests … there is never a dull moment. I have fun!” – Jessica, Front End Manager, De Pere
“I was hired in 2008 – it was my first job! I wanted to be a cashier, but they told me I needed more experience, so I was hired as a bagger. At the time, I didn’t intend to make Festival my career. During college, I transferred to the Copeland store to make a few extra bucks for spending money. I would then work at the Green Bay store during breaks. By the time I graduated, I still didn’t know what I wanted to do in life. At that point, I realized I wanted to stay with Festival Foods. Festival is a great company to work for and I felt like I had a connection with everyone I worked with. I enjoy making people smile. If I can make someone’s day even a tiny bit better that feels awesome.” – Anne, Front End Manager, La Crosse-Copeland
“I was hired in October 2007 as a bagger and cart runner. I was 15 and it was my first job. I was not 100 percent sure what my career path was because I was more worried about ACTs and getting into a good university. I was about half way through my junior year of College at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse when I sat down and talked with Keith, my store director at the time, about making Festival a career. We spoke for two hours that day and had regular discussions until I graduated a year later. Keith was very supportive and patient with me all the way to graduation. I consider him my mentor because he always gave me new challenges and opportunities to succeed. I really enjoy making a positive difference in my associate’s lives. I choose to come to work every day because it is fun and fulfilling work. I really enjoy talking and joking around with our guests because it makes things fun and light but also shows I am a real person and not a robot.” – Nick, Front End Manager, La Crosse-Village
“I was hired in 2006 as a bagger at the Copeland store. Festival was my first and only job! I started when I was 15! I thought that Festival would be a good high school job, and then I thought it was a good place to stay while going to college! My third year of college I found myself very invested in Festival’s business and success. I started considering Festival as my career after having many discussions with my leaders and role models. I knew I was good at being a leader and I enjoyed going to work every day, so I knew I was in the right place! My favorite part of my job today is the team I work with. I love building relationships with my team and working together as a department.” – Karlene, Front End Manager, Onalaska
“Festival was my first and only job! I was hired in 2008 when I was 15 as a bagger. My plan was to go to college and figure out what I wanted to do and Festival was just going to be a part time thing to help pay for that. I never realized that I had been doing what I was supposed to do all along until my co-workers and leaders kept telling me how great I was doing and giving me new challenges that I kept succeeding at. It was after I learned how to be a bagger trainer that I realized I wanted to make this a career and I really truly enjoyed what I was doing. What I enjoy most about my job is the difference that we as leaders make in our associates lives. Whether it’s helping them develop them into the leaders they want to be, be a role model to them, teaching them new things or being someone who they can talk to you when their having a bad day; I do it for them.” – Samm, Assistant Front End Manager, Neenah
“I was hired in 2012 as a cashier when I was in college at Fox Valley Tech. Before Festival, I worked at a store called Kroger. The point when I started taking Festival Foods more seriously was when I stopped going to school and working full time as a Customer Service Representative. I have always wanted to be a high school teacher and inspire people to be better, at Festival I learned I could do this. I have been under some different leaders and they seemed very similar to me. I feel like they all wanted each of their associates to keep striving for excellence and learn how to keep getting better. Watching them teach us and coach us on different things made me start to seriously considering making Festival my career. I want to be as knowledgeable as my mangers and do exactly what they are doing. I love meeting new people, coaching, training, developing and helping them to learn better ways to do different things and assist in helping them reach their goals.” – Charles, PM Assistant Front End Manager, Green Bay West
As evident from the above stories, many Festival employees do not think of their career as “working at a grocery store.” It’s about developing people, being involved and giving back to the community, and making memories with our teams and guests. We just happen to sell groceries.