By Steff Martin, Regional Manager North

Until 2019, I had never been to a festival in my life. I’m not one to ‘rough it’ and at 55 years old, I’m very happy with my creature comforts like a soft bed, black out blinds and an espresso machine.

I was invited to get involved during the planning stages and work on the operational aspects of the pop-up store. I was a little apprehensive at first, as everything was totally unknown to me. I didn’t know what the atmosphere would be like, what the culture would be like or whether anyone would treat it seriously. The biggest worry, however, was that I didn’t even know if I would be able to get a good night’s sleep.

When we all arrived on site, I was surprised how quickly I felt at home. The operation was smooth, everything was simple – everyone knew exactly what they needed to do. As soon as we started trading, I felt like I was in some sort of time machine. I felt like I had been hurled back to 1983 when I first started my job working in store. 

While I was there, I didn’t want to be seen as ‘the regional manager’ or an authority figure. I just wanted to get stuck in, involved and work side by side with my colleagues. I wanted to experience the whole process, accepting deliveries, putting stock out and serving customers. I really loved being there with all the CTMs and having no day to day responsibilities for a week!

The work was hard, relentless, even. There was a constant queue of customers needing to be served from the first second in the morning to the very last minute before we closed. Even though I was only required to work the standard shift like everyone else, I often stayed behind to continue helping because I felt obliged to support the colleagues. Most days, I’d work extra shifts and stay in the store for longer, and I don’t think I even saw a single band while I was there! But for me, the store was the festival experience for me – that was my joy and passion, and I loved every minute of it. Best of all, I even had some of the best sleep of my life – amazing what a hard day’s graft can do.

The one thing that really blew me away was our colleagues. They were incredible – so enthusiastic, happy, proud and it was a real joy to see colleagues from my division so passionate about their jobs. They were singing at the tills, dancing with customers in the aisle and everyone was happy. It was a real phenomenal experience and one that I’ll always remember.

I think working at festivals is a real eye opener and testament to how hard our colleagues across the business work, not only at the festival but every day, working hard to bring the very best of Co-op to our customers. 

So, if you’re a manager and you have colleagues wanting to attend a festival (or maybe you’re thinking of going yourself), I’d really encourage everyone to go and experience it first-hand. It’s hard work but you’ll gain a lot of experience and it will be a lot of fun.

Apply now

If you’re enthusiastic and passionate about Co-op and music, we’d love to see you join us at our festival stores. Applications are open to every colleague who works at the Co-op.

I’d like to encourage anyone to apply this year no matter your background, job or age – don’t be afraid to try it out. We’re looking for a diverse group of people and if you have a passion for Co-op and are willing to work hard, please apply.

You have until 26 May to apply, and we’re aiming to let you know the outcome of your application around mid-June. 

If you have any questions, we have a regularly updated FAQ on our Festivals Colleague Site, you can talk to us direct on our Festival Recruitment Yammer or email us at Festivals@coop.co.uk.