Central Leaders
Graduate Scheme
& Internships
Our graduate scheme is now closed.

We have other great entry level opportunities
all year round.

Our Central Leaders Graduate Scheme is a structured and rigorous development programme that explores every aspect of business leadership. Your programme will start with an exciting induction where you’ll not only meet and get to know our other graduates but also hear from our business leaders, be introduced to your development programme and our vision and values, which underpin everything we do at Sainsbury’s. You’ll then undertake four six month placements, which could be anywhere across our business. Whether you are placed in HR, Marketing, General Merchandise, Trading or Digital and Technology to name just a few, we’ll work with you and our central teams to identify challenging placements that will continue to offer you stretch and development.

Retail is at the heart of our business and so all of our graduates will spend one placement in our fast-paced stores. In this six-month placement you’ll be training to manage a team whilst delivering great customer service; serving our customers whenever and wherever they want.

To be successful, you'll need to think fast and adapt quickly. You'll be expected to communicate clearly, engage colleagues and have the skills to influence the people around you. Most importantly you'll be visible right across our business from a very early stage in your career.

It's a steep learning curve but you’ll have great support throughout. We’ll pair you with a graduate from our previous cohort and a senior mentor, to coach and offer you guidance as well as the Early Careers Team, who’ll be on hand to offer advice and support. You'll build a diverse skill set and business-wide knowledge during your time on our two year programme - the perfect platform for development. When you've proved you can do it, you'll move into a role with greater business responsibility and from there the sky's the limit.

You’ll have the ability to
see all areas of our business.
Graduate – Leaders Scheme

Shrez's Fact File

Job Title: Graduate – Leaders Scheme
University: University of Leeds
Degree: BA (Hons) Management
Location: Holborn Store Support Centre, London
Hobbies: Arts and crafts, yoga and eating out
Favourite Sainsbury’s Product: Sainsbury’s Crispy Garlic Mushrooms and Dip
Time at Sainsbury’s: 2 year
I have always wanted to work in food retail, my dad is a grocer and my mum is an amazing cook so I have always grown up around great food. Choosing Sainsbury’s was a no brainer – I wanted to work for a big business with lots of opportunities and a brand that people know and love, but I also wanted a company that cares about people. Sainsbury’s cares about how colleagues feel coming to work and cares about what customers put on their plates and that is important to me.

I joined Sainsbury’s on the Graduate programme which has meant that I have worked on a number of projects in varied and challenging roles – I started my journey as a Fresh Foods Manager in our stores leading a small team at Christmas time. Since joining the Store Support Centre, I have completed listening groups with over 200 colleagues to help build our people strategy, created guides helping managers limit unconscious bias, which has generated better decision making and I worked with a third party agency to create a new internal jobs site for our colleagues. I am now working on improving our store working programme where colleagues from our Store Support Centres pledge time in stores during busy trading times, like Christmas and New Year.

I think a decision to join us is a good one, if you are willing to work hard and get to know people, your career is limitless.
Entry Requirements

Essential Requirements

• 2:1 Degree in any discipline
• Some relevant work experience
• Natural leadership skills
• Outstanding communication and people skills

As a Central Leader, you'll need great networking skills. We're a diverse national organisation, so achieving our goals means being able to work together at every level. There's nearly 161,000 of us across the country in a variety of divisions so working together is key, with trusting each other, working together being one of our colleague values.

Right from the outset, you need more than the usual people skills. You need to be able to engage, influence and present at a senior level, maybe even challenge us to think differently, to improve things for our customers and colleagues. You'll never lose sight of our commercial objectives, but you'll understand that, at Sainsbury's, achieving strategic goals will always mean bringing the talents of a team together to make change happen.

Application Process

The graduate application process at Sainsbury’s is challenging but will give you a great insight into our company. We are looking for the best talent who are eager to develop. There are 5 stages to the process which are broken down and explained below.

Stage 1
Stage 2
Stage 3
Stage 4
Stage 5

Does everyone do a store placement?

What are the essential requirements for the scheme?

What if I don’t have the essential requirements?

Can overseas students apply?

What support do you offer disabled candidates and colleagues?

Are work internships available?

What salary would I expect if I was successful in obtaining a place on the Sainsbury’s Central Leaders Graduates Scheme?

Where will I be based on the programme?

If I am unsuccessful will I get feedback?

I have a problem with my application, what do I do?