Merchandising - analysing data and sales, shipping the right products to the right stores at the right times
Buying - sourcing fashionable, branded, great quality products at a great price to sell in stores
6 months in each role
I loved working at TJX Europe as I always wanted to be in fashion retail but struggled to find a placement due to doing a Business Degree rather than a fashion related one. They consider people with all different degree types!
The classroom training environment allowed for good working relationships to form and I felt like my training was really well scheduled and monitored.
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We completed training as a placement along with all the graduates which I found really helpful as it allowed us to integrate well as a team rather than feeling segregated as a placement. When you start on your designated departments after training it was slightly daunting and it took a while to settle in but once you have showcased your personality you are treat like a member of the family.
There is a lot of support throughout the training period in the way of regular check ins and feedback sessions so I always knew if i was on the right track. Once in the job role the support is very much their if you need it but you are left with a lot of autonomy so must be prepared to develop your own learning and progression.
How busy I was depending on the time of year, whether it was peak time before Christmas or a less busy time, and I also found that it varied between departments. However personally, I never felt too busy to cope and also found time after I had completed my daily/weekly tasks to do extra projects which would help develop my skills and prepare for any career progression.
The amount of responsibility given in this placement is one of the reasons why I loved it so much. Straight after training you are given responsibility for the shipment of goods for a few departments. Although you have line managers who are accountable and will support you through it, you have something to work on which is your own and when you see you are making positive changes and increasing sales then you feel motivated.
I feel that the networking and relationship building culture at TJX has massively changed me as a person and I have learnt how important having strong working relationships are. I have taken away a lot of personal skills as well as received the best training in Buying by being able to shadow an experienced buyer through everything they do.
TJX is a constantly fun environment where you look forward to entering the office in the morning to be greeted with warm hellos and conversations. Everyone is passionate about the job so there is nobody clock watching or trying to chat to get out of work, but it genuinely helps to have friends and strong bonds so you can help each other out. There is often fun activities and fundraisers that everyone likes to take part in.
The Buying and Merchandising placement had a clear structure with classroom training scheduled out for 2/3 months (as well as department time which increased throughout the weeks). The check in and feedback sessions were a really good indicator of where you were at and would allow the team to pick up on anything you were struggling with and needed more help with. I personally really liked the structure of the training because you never wondered if you were doing the right task and never sat there not being sure of what you had to do.
Once on the buying side of the placement, you were very much in charge of organising your own working day and your own development. That could come as a bit of a shock after the structured merchandising side. But after being thrown in the deep end it really does develop you as a person
The company see placements and grads as the future leaders of the company and invest completely in the development of us. They are very keen for placement students to return to the company if they have had a successful placement year and have a really good career ladder.
They were willing to put a lot of time and money into making sure that we had the most enriching experience, especially when in Buying, allowing us to go on trips abroad with our buyers and pretty much experience the exact same as the Buyer did.
TJX offered me a contract to return as a Senior Analyst in the Merchandising sector which is where all graduates start off - even if you want a career in buying. Although we do not have to do the graduate scheme having undergone the training and assessments already on our placement year, we will still take part in a few graduate sessions to get to know the new people and integrate into the team.
The company make it quite apparent that there is opportunity to return to the company upon completion of your degree which is a really good motivator to perform and it is also useful for you as you have a years long experience working at the company and have a good idea if it is somewhere you see yourself.
All the placements and grads (7 placements in b&m and around 48 grads on my intake) were added to a Facebook group once we signed our contract to discuss the job, housing etc. A lot of people ended up living together, and i lived with 3 other placements in Watford. The social life is really good although it is mostly driven by you. There are plenty of nice pubs nearby for after work drinks and the classroom training will allow you to make really close bonds with people in your intake before you all scatter off to different departments. The Facebook group was a hub for arranging parties and events and as the majority of people moved down to Watford alone, everyone was willing to make new friends.
Watford is expensive to live, although not in London, you don't pay much less than London prices to rent/buy a house. As there is no University near by, there is not a huge amount of student/shared accommodation to choose from or many large houses especially designed for sharers.
Other than that, the cost of food is the same as anywhere else and you can get cheap drinks at pubs such as The Flag, Walkabout etc. The train to London Euston takes 18 minutes and costs around £3-£5 which is a major plus.
There are not many clubs to go to, it is not a scene like Newcastle, Leeds etc and you will have to go into London for that. However there are good pubs and bars so we found we quickly switched from clubs 12-4am to post-work Prosecco 5-10 instead!
There are not many organised activities by the company, however there is always opportunity to get people together and set up an event if you wanted to. I think a few people do running club. There is always people going to various gyms in the area that you can go with.
Placement Year (10 Months+)