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Bella

Course studied: BA (Hons) Spanish & European Studies

United Kingdom
Consider your priorities and what matters most to you and your happiness! It’s important to think about the wider experience and the bigger picture, so seek out opportunities where you have the chance to grow and thrive.

More about Bella

An insight into a day in the life of an Marks & Spencer graduate

Bella, rotational graduate at M&S, secured a place on the M&S grad scheme in 2021 after completing her degree in Spanish and European studies at Nottingham Trent University. Bella recounts on her time at NTU and how her experience guided her career path and choices.

Employer name: Marks & Spencer

What is it like to work as a rotational graduate at M&S? Bella talks through her everyday role and responsibilities:

The great thing about being on the generalist grad scheme at M&S is that it is extremely varied. The scheme is structured in a way in which you get the chance to experience a different sector of the business every 6 months.  So you begin your first graduate rotation in store - this gives you a chance to see how the work at the support centre directly influences staff and customers in store. You then move to the support centre in January.

At the moment, I am working in customer insight for Clothing and Home. This involves understanding how the customer is thinking, feeling and behaving and translating this insight into engaging and actionable information for our support centre teams, such as marketing, in-store layout, buying and merchandising, dotcom, and even the teams in charge of discounts and special offers. For example, my team might get insight on the store experience from a customer survey or range of focus groups and interviews with customers. My job is then to synthesise the findings and create engaging comms and insight events for the business to drive action and improve the customer journey.

Day to day, you will find me in marketing and team meetings or writing up reports. One of my main responsibilities is to create a monthly report of about 60 slides to go out to the whole of clothing and home, which includes womenswear, menswear, kidswear, lingerie, home and beauty.  It’s a big responsibility, but also a great opportunity to learn and prove myself.

What transferable skills did you develop at NTU that you utilise in the workplace?

  • Time management and meeting deadlines
  • Being at NTU really gave me the chance to develop my time management skills- understanding what you need to deliver and working around your social and personal life is such a big part of work at university and the same skills apply in the workplace.
  • Learning how to communicate with different people
    Due to the nature of my course, by the time I got to my final year, I was working alongside people on my course whom I had never met before. These were people who had not completed their sandwich year due to covid. I learnt how to adjust and approach situations where you may be working with new people. As a rotational graduate, this is really useful as I’m meeting and working with new people all the time.
  • Real-life work experience
    I completed a module called “Languages at Work” at NTU which gave me the opportunity to work in events management. I developed the skills to run a corporate event for over 300 clothing colleagues in M&S.

It’s also worth mentioning that when it came to deciding what to study at NTU, I chose a subject which I knew I would enjoy and knew I would do well in. This gave me the chance to work out what I wanted to do whilst I enjoyed my time at university. For me, studying modern languages was a fantastic way to explore a number of disciplines and subject areas such as culture, politics, history, film and literature.

What did the recruitment process involve and how did you approach your application?

I applied for the graduate scheme in November 2020 during my final year at NTU. All stages of the recruitment process are held virtually and they consist of an initial application, logic and reasoning tests to demonstrate specific skills for some programmes like Software Engineering, then a video interview and assessment centre, where you take part in a number of exercises to assess your strengths, including an interview and a small group exercise. I heard back in February 2021 that I had been successful and the scheme started in the September.

My advice would be to apply now – although applications are open until the end of December for most roles, and the end of January for Retail Management and Logistics Internship, M&S review on a rolling basis and can close schemes earlier than planned.

Best tip to take into account when applying for any job

Consider your priorities and what matters most to you and your happiness! It’s important to think about the wider experience and the bigger picture, so seek out opportunities where you have the chance to grow and thrive.

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