Uni Attended: University of Westminster
Degree: Fashion Merchandise Management
In my last few months of university I began to look for a graduate job. After completing a four year degree in Fashion Merchandise Management I was sure this was the area which I wanted to go into, however I was unsure of where. I researched into different companies to see how entry level merchandising jobs varied. Next stood out to me as it was role which involved more than just ‘number crunching’ where you are allowed to work closely with product in order to bring new trends to the high street. Choosing Next for me meant relocating to Leicester, something which I wasn’t sure of at first. However due to the fact that there a lot of trainees often starting at similar times I found it easy to meet people and settled in quickly.
Although I have a degree which is merchandising based it is not crucial to the role as there is training provided which helps to introduce you to the role and what Merchandising is. These training courses are for all trainees and introduce you to the systems which you will use. These courses provide you with a great way to meet people in the same boat as you and share your experiences within the first few weeks in the job.
Day to day life as a trainee includes a wide range of tasks. Initially there is a lot of information to take in, however this all gives you a good understanding of what the job entails and will provide the foundations for your career. The tasks which you do as a trainee focus on managing stock, from initial orders to getting stock out to store, therefore you are crucial to ensuring a great range is available in store for the customer. As you get to work closely with a Buying and Design team there are also lots of opportunities to get involved in product development. You are able to get involved in putting together a range and giving your opinion on potential new products. Therefore when you see the ranges out in store you can know that you had a role in getting this product in to store. Once the product is in store it is your job as a merchandiser to be able to identify best sellers and to be able to react to this. This means you need to be analytical and able to read into information to identify the relevant and important information. Once you have identified the best seller you need to be able to decide what to do with this information – therefore by being a good problem solver and looking at all potential solutions you are able to make the best decision for the team.
As a trainee you have to balance a lot of different tasks at one time, therefore you needed to make sure you’re really organised. Being organised is key to being able to manage your time effectively to get all of your day to day tasks done. By being organised and ensuring I got all of my daily tasks completed on time I found I was left with time to get involved with what my assistant merchandiser was doing. This allowed me to develop new skills and build on my understanding of merchandising. It also gave me a better overview of how the team worked as a whole and what I would be doing once I had completed the trainee scheme. Although merchandising does require good numerical ability there are systems at place in Next which do make this easier. However as well as being numerical to be successful as a trainee you also need to be able to identify fashion trends. Therefore an interest in clothing and retail definitely helped me to be successful as a trainee.
From my own experience I would say the key to being successful as a trainee merchandiser is being motivated. You have to be willing to push yourself to learn about all aspects of the job and the department in order to further your knowledge. By doing this you will be able to be pro-active and go above what is required. As a trainee you are provided with a guide which includes milestones which you can measure yourself against in order to see how you are progressing. I found this a great way to stay motivated and ensure I was progressing as expected.
The best thing about being a trainee at Next is seeing people wearing products which you have helped to develop and get into store. Next is a high street brand that everyone knows, therefore you get a real sense of pride at working here. With over 500 stores across the country plus the Next Directory and online store you are always likely to see your product when you’re out and about.