Name: Natasha Howden
Age: 24 years old
Degre and university: Trinity College, University of Cambridge
Modern and Medieval Languages (German and Russian)
Job Title: Graduate Trainee (Corporate Affairs department), Tesco
What do you actually do?
I am in my first year of the Tesco Corporate Affairs graduate scheme. The scheme comprises four functional placements and two store placements. So far I have spent time in the Press Office, in store, and am currently working with the Corporate Responsibility (CR) team.
Working on lots of projects simultaneously keeps each day interesting and varied. I have researched and written award submissions, responded to questions and challenges to our CR policies, helped to write and produce the CR Review, and even been cajoled into appearing on Russian television!
Were you always intersted in this sector?
Approaching graduation I knew I wanted to work in a people-facing environment and in a communications role, but was unsure about which jobs to apply for. I hadn’t considered working in retail until I saw the Tesco graduate scheme and realised that it offered the fast-paced, challenging environment I was looking for.
Would you undertake further study to gain promortion?
The Corporate Affairs department has been really active in supporting my personal development. In the short time I have been with Tesco, I have attended several IT training courses and a course on how to be a good leader. I would definitely consider further study in order to progress my career.
What do you most like about what you do and are there any downsides?
There’s a fantastic buzz about the office in the Corporate Affairs department. Our team interacts with a variety of stakeholders, such as investors, NGOs, customers, MPs, and journalists, and as a graduate you are given the opportunity to work with different teams to gain exposure to all of these. I have been given the opportunity to work on important projects with real responsibility, and I am constantly learning and trying new things. It is really rewarding to see tangible results of your work, whether that be a statement in a newspaper, being short-listed for an industry award, or receiving a thank you for a letter you wrote.
Tesco is the largest private sector employer in the UK and has businesses in twelve other countries around the world, so it can be a bit overwhelming at first getting used to the sheer scale of our operation. However, everyone is so friendly and graduates are paired with a buddy so it’s easy to settle in. The benefits of working for a large company far outweigh those early challenges!
What skills do you need to succeed?
Creativity and excellent communication skills partnered with an enthusiasm for new and exciting challenges is key to making a success of working in Corporate Affairs. As is also true of many other sectors, an ability to work well with others, energy, and drive are all important to having a successful career at Tesco.
What advice would you give other graduates coming into this sector?
Having relevant work experience shows your enthusiasm for the job and gives you lots of good things to talk about in an interview. It is also important to research the company and role you are applying for, and think about how you can demonstrate your strengths through practical examples.