Alison graduated in 2007 from Sheffield Hallam University with a degree in business studies, which was a four-year sandwich course including a year in industry. She is currently on a two-year graduate management programme with Merlin Entertainments, which consists of different placements across the business.
I have spent six months working as a retail assistant manager of three stores at Legoland Windsor, three months working in the property and development group at Merlin Studios, three months working as a duty manager at Brighton Sea Life Centre and then I will be moving to the London Eye to be a hospitality team leader for a year.
I was attracted to the programme because of the variety it offered and the opportunity to travel around different attractions and locations. Also, at the end of the programme, graduates have the opportunity to present their experiences and the impact they have made to the CEO.
I applied online and went through an assessment centre and then a separate individual interview. I would say you have to be determined and keep positive; a smile goes a long way.
I think my degree subject has been very relevant to my job and that having a background of business acumen and knowledge has been very useful. It means that I had an idea of how a business should operate and can see the theory I have learnt being put into practice in reality.
I also developed team working, presenting and communication skills during my degree. In nearly every module I had to work in groups and usually had to present my findings or research. These three skills are essential to do my job.
My role changes with every move to a new attraction. In my current role, when the park is closed, we do stock-taking in the stores and clean them as well. Everything is re-merchandised for the next season, staff members are recruited and everything is prepped for the coming year. Two new stores were also launched.
After completing the Graduate Programme, I would like to work in operations management of an attraction, whether that is at Madame Tussaud’s, Sea Life Centre or a theme park. Once I have some further operations knowledge, I would like to be involved in the opening of a new attraction and would love the chance to work in another country.
I like that there is no 'typical day' in this industry - that is why I enjoy working in it. I also like the variety of work, moving to different parts of the country and different areas of the business. I thrive on the responsibility that has been placed on me so early in my career and the fact that my actions can have an impact on the business.
I also enjoy meeting new people and gaining new experiences; the people make the business in Merlin, everyone is so welcoming, supportive and encouraging.
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