Learning to Earning
No matter how hard you worked all year or how hard you crammed for the exam, results day is always slightly terrifying. Two years ago, that was me picking up the envelope. Today, I'm the proud store manager of M&S Newton Abbott Outlet, responsible for 52 people (including a couple who are picking up their results today).
Like most my friends (we all did traditional A levels) I applied to university and I got a place. But it wasn't for me and I decided to go straight into work. I wanted to start earning, wanted practical work experience over more classroom learning and importantly I was reluctant to take on student debt. It was my Auntie - a proud M&S colleague herself - who recommended the M&S school leaver programme (now called the Level 4 Retail Management Apprenticeship).
As I was given a role in Plymouth (and come from Cornwall) I had to relocate. Lots of people think going straight to work means living at home with mum cooking your dinner every night - it doesn't have to. I learnt a lot of life skills from my house share, just as my peers did in their uni halls, whilst there was no freshers week, there was plenty of opportunity to meet new people and have fun.
My placement was fantastic. I went in knowing nothing about retail, but was given experience in every section of the store to learn about every element of running a successful M&S. People talk about grad schemes setting you up for success - the same is true for school leavers at M&S. I was constantly supported by my mentors and managers - and I still am today, alongside working hard to support my team. And that matters, it matters you feel your career is invested in.
I started as a customer assistant and just a few months later, aged 18, was made childrenswear manager, managing a team of 12 people. I then tried a few different management roles and importantly this meant different stores - meeting and managing new people, continually learning and adapting to challenges.
I love working at M&S, most crucially the people and the opportunities. I aspire to move onto bigger and better things and when your CEO started on the shop floor you know that's possible.
Grades don’t control your future and universities aren’t the only option. Results day is a big one and whilst decisions don't have to be made today if you're thinking the work route is right for you and you just want to find out more - get in touch. There's lots of info on our careers website and the team are available on WhatsApp on 07834 335603 – don’t be afraid to ask.
If you'd have asked me two years ago, if in two years I would be running a store for a FTSE 100 company and be the youngest store manager, I would have of course said no, but two years of hard work have meant just that. Of course, it’s not the right route for everyone, but it was for me, and there’s lots of opportunities for those who think it could be for them.