Skip to content
Molly Slifkin


United Kingdom
The transferrable skills I developed have been invaluable

More about Molly

After completing a History BA in 2015, Molly Slifkin successfully secured a place on the John Lewis Graduate Scheme, which led her to progress to her current role as Customer Proposition Manager for Waitrose. Molly reflects on her time at NTU and shares how her course equipped her with the transferable skills needed to excel in her industry.

Why did you choose to study at NTU?

Having attended my fair share of university open days, NTU definitely stood out and had a great feel about it, from the then newly built halls at Clifton campus, to the positive reviews it had from previous students. I wanted to be far enough away from home to justify living away, but close enough that I could carry on my part time job at weekends, so Nottingham worked as a location for me. I particularly loved living in West Bridgford in my second and third year, as I'm a big lover of a nice café and a weekend market - which did not suit my student budget!

What did you learn – both inside and outside of lectures?

I studied History out of both an interest in the subject and a desire to keep my degree as transferable as possible, with a view to enrolling on an industry Graduate Scheme at the end of my course. Writing my dissertation on the importance of preserving memory through Third Generation Holocaust survivors equipped me with the ability to adapt my approach to my audience and gave me a level of understanding of the past that I could never have gleaned from a book which was pertinent to my own heritage. I found that, unlike a lot of my peers, having to manage my own time and independently study really worked for me as I am a strong self-motivator - something I hadn't really recognised or given myself credit for at school. I also grew in confidence personally as I found I excelled in an essay rather than 'exam' based grading system. Outside of lectures, I held a few part time jobs and set up the NTU Gymnastics society which is still going strong today.

What still makes you smile when you look back?

My friend and I not being able to find the library on our first day and missing our first lecture - not a good start! She's recently asked me to be her bridesmaid, so it was the blossoming of a long-lasting friendship.

What does your current day involve?

My current role at Waitrose is all about identifying customer 'pain points' and working with cross functional teams at Head Office to deliver a solution across our 300 Waitrose shops or online. A typical week for me would involve hearing from our customers on their current mindset, concerns, and thoughts about the macro environment as well as Waitrose specifically and using this to shape new or change existing propositions which make up the in-store experience. Depending on the scale of the project, this could include working with third parties and brands who want to sell their products in our shops, or just tweaking an internal process.

What attracted you to this field of work?

Having always had part time jobs in retail, I found a passion for the process, from sourcing the product, to merchandising it and selling it through great customer service. I'd researched Graduate schemes before I started applying for universities and the John Lewis Graduate scheme offered a good starting salary, along with the opportunity to progress quickly through management roles. That said, I didn't want to box myself into retail exclusively, so I picked History as a well-respected 'generic' specialism to keep my options open. It also helped that I had a genuine interest in the subject!

How has your degree influenced the direction of your life?

Graduating with a first-class degree certainly stood me in good stead when applying for jobs.

The course also gave me the confidence to work independently, challenge others' thinking and interrogate the origin of any information before forming an opinion.

Although the content was not linked, the transferrable skills I developed have been invaluable, including the solid foundations of written and verbal communication and how to present an argument.

What challenges have you faced?

Joining the organisation on a Graduate Scheme meant that I experienced relatively accelerated progression throughout my first few years, but this has inevitably slowed down as I have begun to develop depth, as well as breadth of experience. It was challenging to adapt to this, and my confidence took a knock after several unsuccessful interviews, but I found that coaching was an invaluable tool to give me a different perspective and luckily is readily available through many forums including LinkedIn. Having a professional mentor has also massively helped me navigate my career so far. I have found that people at all levels of the industry are really willing to offer guidance and support if you ask for it. Podcasts are also a great source of free careers advice - I like to listen to one called 'Squiggly Careers'.

What have been the highlights and biggest challenges of your career so far?

This is a really tough one! As cliché as it sounds, I've made some of my best friends at work and have felt welcomed and valued in every team I've been part of. The opportunity to move around the country with work really forced me out of my comfort zone and definitely made me more independent, so I'd encourage anyone to do if they get the chance. There have also been some really stressful times, such as facing redundancy, which forced me to build resilience - but they were made easier by the network around me.

What are your plans for the future?

Having spent almost 10 years at the same nationwide company, I'd like to explore working for a small - medium size business which makes use of the breadth of skills and experience I have picked up over the years. I feel now more than ever that work is only part of what makes up my life and I am about to embark on a big home renovation project - so I'm sure that will keep me busy!

If you had a time machine, what would you go back and tell yourself at uni?

Work hard but don't take it all so seriously - you will never have so little responsibility again, and three years will go by in a flash!

Finally, is there anything else you would like to share?

Don't leave it until you've graduated to start thinking about/ applying for jobs - everyone else will have the same idea. Graduate schemes are highly competitive and you're best to start looking towards the beginning of your final year, as applying can be a full-time job in itself!

Molly Slifkin on LinkedIn

History and heritage is a route to your future.

Challenge your digital literacy, analytical, interpretive and communication skills to open up limitless professional possibilities.

NTU graduate?

Stay connected with the NTU alumni and supporter community.

Still need help?

+44 (0)115 941 8418
Related student profiles
  • Profile icon


    Aimee Eaton


    United Kingdom

  • Profile icon


    Alex Stainsby


    United Kingdom

  • Profile icon


    Amy McGrath


    United Kingdom