1. To what extent did you enjoy your work placement or internship?
To work in retail you must have the passion to succeed. This placement allowed me to see how retail changes throughout the year, especially at Christmas. I was able to work in my preferred region and I moved stores 3 times so I was able to understand how each store management style adapts to different surroundings.
2. To what extent did you feel valued by your colleagues?
I cannot fault the teams I worked within during my time with M&S. Every store I worked in made me feel like a part of the team even though I was a trainee. I never felt as though I was excluded at any point. As well as the store I had regional support, learning and development support and head office support during my placement year.
3. To what extent were you given support and guidance by management/your supervisor(s)?
Although the placement is mainly based on learning through experience, I felt that the line managers I was placed with gave me sufficient time to learn with them. The only way of learning how to manage in retail is by throwing yourself in the deep end but always have the safety arm band of your team to help you.
4. How busy were you on a daily basis?
During my time with M&S there was a lot of change happening in retail, and this gave me the opportunity to lead the team through it. Additionally some quarters of the year are busier than others and sometimes you can find yourself looking for something to do if you have not been set up effectively by your line manager. This is easily avoided by asking for guidance rather than sitting being 'bored'.
5. How much responsibility were you given during your placement?
I was given a lot of responsibility, I was relied on for duty manager shifts during high holiday/absence periods in the store. I was also given an amazing opportunity to cover store manager in a simply food store. I always felt supported during these responsibilities and never felt this was too much.
6. To what extent did/will the skills you developed, and training you received, assist you in your degree studies and beyond?
The skills I learnt are invaluable. The management and leadership skills could only be developed through such experiences and although retail may not be the industry I go into after my placement, the skills are 100% transferable and I feel I am confident in any job I go in to.
7. What was the general atmosphere in your office?
At most points throughout the placement the atmosphere in the office was great, this was down to the working relationships with the other members of the team. Additionally although it was fun within the office it always remained professional.
8. How well organised was the overall work placement or internship set up?
I feel that the work placement could be set up a bit more effectively. I feel that my experience was better than some of the other placement students I know of. The formal set up of which attachment and where you will be based was set up by a member of the team on the region and this is not done nationally, I feel this could be done nationally. In terms of my experience it was really well set up but this needs to be consistent throughout the business.
9. In terms of personal training and development, to what extent did the company or firm invest in you?
The company supported with formal learning in terms of expenses to work shops and the availability of work shops provided. However, there could be more investment in terms of what additional training that the business could give. Additionally work books/guides and performance trackers need to be updated and more structured to help with the support.
10. What were the perks on your work placement?
Staff Sales/Staff Shop
Above 25 days holiday
11. How appealing are future employment prospects within the organisation?
Retail is a challenging environment to be working in at the moment, with a lot of companies struggling on the high street. Therefore it is hard for the company to know their resourcing requirements next year when I would want to return, however my end of year review detailed my performance throughout the year which was good enough to return should there be a vacancy.
12. Was there a good social scene amongst any fellow placement students/colleagues?
Although the placement students and other graduates met when there was formal workshops to attend, we did not meet regularly or keep in frequent contact. The other placement students on the region were kept in contact more, although there was only 2 others.
13. What was the cost of living and socialising in the area you worked in?
It wasn't expensive for me because I commuted from home and did not live independently so costs were shared.
14. What was the Nightlife like in the area you worked?
It was ok, if this is something that was important to you then you would need to think carefully about your location preferences.
15. Were there many opportunities to get involved in activities outside of work?
There was not a lot of opportunities however there were community days that could get involved in. Additionally there is a sports and social team in each store so depending on which store you are in there are separate events going on which you could attend.