Holly did a management degree apprenticeship before bagging a marketing job at Tesco. She shares how she got there - plus her top tips for being confident at work.
Name: Holly Garrett
Job role: Membership and loyalty executive
Length of time in role: Eight months
University: Pearson College London
Degree subject: Business Management
Apprenticeship: CMDA (Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship)
A-levels: English literature, history, geography, biology
1. What was your very first job?
My very first job was working for Charles Clinkard, fitting children’s shoes when I was about 16 years old. A couple of my best friends worked there so it was great fun working together, but hard work, especially in the chaos of school holidays. The main things I learnt from my very first job were the importance of dedication and great communication skills.
2. What did you want to do when you were at school?
When I was at school I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do, which is why I chose to do a business management degree as I felt it would keep my options open. For anyone also worrying that they don’t know what they want to do – it is completely okay, don’t panic and don’t rush into any decisions!
3. How did you find out about the industry?
I found out about the marketing industry through completing a work experience placement in the summer between year 11 and year 12. I really enjoyed the experience and would recommend work experience to everyone: it definitely helps you find a passion and is invaluable for your CV.
4. How did you get to where you are today?
I did a Rotational Degree Apprenticeship, for which I worked in three different companies, Tesco, IBM and Pearson, whilst at the same time studying for a business management degree one day a week. Gaining three years of work experience, whilst getting a degree, definitely helped me stand out against a regular graduate.
5. What is a typical day like?
A typical day is usually very busy. I am currently working on a new project which is really exciting. I get to work with lots of new teams such as customer insight, finance, operations and technology. It’s so interesting to see how they all come together.
6. What’s the best thing about your job?
The best thing about my job is that I still learn something new every day. The loyalty and retail market is constantly changing and adapting so it’s really important we keep up to date and stay ahead of competitors.
7. What is the most challenging thing about your job?
The most challenging thing about my job is the pace we have to work at, although I love being busy and working quickly so even this isn’t a bad thing.
8. What advice do you have for people who want to do what you do?
I would advise anyone who wants to get into marketing to really have a think about what part of marketing you enjoy most as it’s a huge industry. It’s important to take any opportunity presented to you as it will definitely pay off and help you get your foot in the door of a competitive industry. In terms of personal qualities, I think it’s important to have a good understanding of the industry (retail, grocery, transport etc.), a creative eye and a sound understanding of customers.
9. What’s the number-one most important transferable skill needed for your job?
I think within any marketing role the number one skill needed is a comprehensive understanding of your customers and target market.
10. How did you develop your confidence at work?
I developed my confidence at work in many different ways. I went on various courses, such as ‘presenting yourself with confidence’, but I actually think the most beneficial way is to not shy away from presenting to big groups of people/senior stakeholders. Actively volunteer for these opportunities.
11. What do you wish you’d known before starting your career?
I wish I’d known that it’s okay not to be an expert in your field before starting the role. You’ll learn and develop as you become more experienced.
12. Where would you like to be in 5 years?
I don’t like to put a timer on anything as I believe I’ll end up wherever I am meant to be, however I would definitely like to be managing a couple of people by then. I’d love to be able to put into practice the management skills I have gained through my apprenticeship, and also support others to learn and grow within their own careers.