NAME: GILLIAN FRANCEY / AGE: 23
JOB TITLE: GRADUATE TRAINEE MANAGER
UNIVERSITY: 2:1 IN BUSINESS STUDIES FROM UNIVERSITY OF ULSTER, NORTHERN IRELAND
What do you do on a typical day?
When you start on the graduate scheme you are a trainee manager and shadow department managers to get an overview of the store and how it operates. I am responsible for overseeing the running of my department which includes dealing with any customer queries, communicating information to the colleagues in my department, people management, ensuring the department is well manned and providing great service.
What qualifications and qualities do you need for a graduate retail role?
You need to be customer-focused; this really is a face-to-face role where you have to be prepared to roll your sleeves up. Within three months I was in charge of the checkout – for that you really need to be totally organised to get everything done. You also need to have a bit of patience as you are responsible for a large number of colleagues with different needs. You also have to be tough as you do sometimes have to take disciplinary action, which can be hard.
Why did you decide to embark upon a retail career and how did you get the job?
I didn’t just want to sit in an office. I wanted to work in retail because it is customer-focused. Also, there is a lot of opportunity to move about, and it is quite easy to progress through the company. In five years you can become a store manager if you meet the right criteria.
What is the most challenging aspect of the job?
The work-life balance. The hours are long; I start work at 7am. You need to be prepared to work weekends and evenings.
What advice do you have for students considering a career in retail?
Get retail experience, even if it’s only part-time. I came in with only three months’ experience, so I was learning from the start. You also need to be aware of the long and unusual hours. Doing a placement is also a good idea. Your careers service will be able to help and there is also a lot of information on the internet.
Briefly, how would you describe your job?
Challenging, satisfying and rewarding.