Students examine careers in retail

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I recently went back to school this term to advise University of Westminster fashion students of their retail career options. With the talk also featuring advice from Tesco’s and a former Buying Director at Wallis, the students should get an A+ for understanding how they can develop their careers after graduation.

The University of Westminster runs a range of fashion sector courses, including Fashion Design, Merchandise, Buying and Business, delivered by former fashion and retail professionals, so the students can access a wealth of information and knowledge to give them a well-rounded view of the industry. The 24 students I spoke to had all just completed their year placement within the fashion and retail sector and were embarking on their final year, so most of them had formed clear ideas of how they wanted to develop their retail career on graduation, but were looking to me for practical advice on the best approach to securing their first role. It was interesting to see that initially many students chose to study fashion due to the sector’s creative aspect, but by gaining practical industry insight, coupled with inspiration from business programmes like The Apprentice and Dragons Den, many students have now been nudged towards an interest in retail operations, business and management functions.

As court & spark predominantly works with senior retailers, it was a good experience for me personally to hear what interests and motivates new graduates entering the retail sector. I was encouraged to hear that despite awareness that the economic climate is creating huge challenges in retailing, the students were optimistic around future career prospects. By discussing the different career options available, the experience they needed to get ahead and crucial aspects they should look for in their first position, I could see that a lot of the students had already done their homework and I hope I get the chance to meet them again as they rise up the ranks from junior executives to experienced retail professionals.

Helen Beney, University of Westminster’s course leader for Fashion Buying Management, who is also a former Buying Director at Wallis provided some really great post visit feedback: “‘The students were really interested to hear about the range of roles and retail clients that court & spark works with, and the diversity of opportunities outlined by Sue has given them lots of food for thought. With the rapid pace of change within the retail arena it’s essential that students keep up to date with what potential employers are looking for so the session with Sue was just what our final year students needed to kick start their research into graduate roles.”

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