Friday, 26 November 2010

Sarah Hutton-Joel - Graduate student II

More from Sarah . . . .

How did you secure your job in childrenswear buying with Next?

Our uni tutors approached us to see if anyone was interested in applying for the Next Buying Programme which really appealed to me as they are a high street leader and are renowned within the industry. I submitted a CV and was invited to take part in an assessment day. I was asked to give a 5 minute presentation, have a one to one interview with someone from HQ and take part in a group task. By complete coincidence my presentation was on 'Newborns' and I discovered later that I presented to the Next Director of Childrenswear. It went well. I was offered a place on the training programme and this lifted a big weight from my mind because as a single parent, I was very keen to be working.

There was a three month wait after I accepted, to find out my proper starting date which was was nerve racking but to be honest I needed a proper break after such an intensive study year. I realised that when I started my probationary period with Next, that this would be when the hard work would really start. The knowledge and skills I learned at Adam Smith were continued at Nottingham Trent University but I would argue that the foundation and breadth of learning at college has prepared me for the job. University sharpened my presentation skills and gained me my degree. I made lots of current and future contacts at Uni too which has been really helpful.

What are the main tasks related to your role?

There are no set tasks to the Trainee Buying role as you do just about anything to help with the smooth running of the team. A lot of it has to do with relationships and working with people, liaising with suppliers, approving components within a garment, helping to fit garments, preparing trade samples for managers viewings, ordering samples in preparation for a photo shoot, mock shop and press supply preparation, help dress rooms for Retail and Directory selection meetings, helping the buyer prepare for overseas trips, go on inspirational shopping expeditions with buyers and designers, carry out competitive shopping investigations, present best sellers to other members of the team, oh and keep on top of the admin and responsibilities for the team. Communication is key. Most importantly, have a love of fashion and keep well up on future forecasted trends. The better you are at managing the workload, the more responsibility will be given to you and as you progress you are then given an area with specific responsibilities. I have been looking after blouses and skirts within Baby Girls.

Few jobs in fashion are 9-5 and it is definitely not boring as there is a lot to do and wide variety. It is also highly rewarding. Nothing compares to when you see one of your developments in store and people browsing and buying it! I do get a thrill when I see little girls wearing styles I have been involved with and tracking figures on a Monday morning to see how we have done over the weekend. I am not a designer but do have a heavy involvement in creating a real, tangible thing. It is incredibly satisfying to see a garment through from idea to production and hanging in store in 450 branches throughout the country.

More to come from Sarah . . . . .

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