Laura is a trainee buyer for NEXT PLC. She graduated from the University of Manchester with a degree in French and Spanish.
After university I decided to go travelling and met a number of people who weren't happy with the career path that they had taken. I’ve always been passionate about fashion and this experience made me determined to make a career out of my interest.
As soon as I got home I set about building my experience in retail. I volunteered at my local Oxfam store and applied for a number of placements, eventually securing work shadowing at two major high street fashion retailers' head offices, including NEXT. Both placements were a fantastic opportunity to increase my knowledge of the sector and convinced me that my career lay in buying. Having completed four weeks' shadowing at NEXT I was encouraged to apply for their graduate programme and was delighted when, after attending the assessment centre, I was offered a position as a trainee buyer.
One of the things I love about my current role is that no two days are the same. In any given week I can find myself meeting with our suppliers, liaising with our design and merchandising teams, approving colours and trims, attending 'fit' sessions and working on future seasons' collections. The industry is incredibly fast paced and we work on three seasons simultaneously; reacting to the sales of the current season, preparing for the launch of the upcoming season, and developing and planning for the season after - creating and developing collections which will appeal to NEXT's customers.
I feel a huge amount of pride when I see people walking around in our products. It's amazing to think that you played a part in what they're now wearing. Another massive plus of working in this industry is the people. You work with talented, hard-working colleagues who are incredibly passionate about what they do and that is extremely motivating.
Without doubt, one of the most challenging parts of the role is time management. At university you only really have yourself to think about, whilst at NEXT I'm part of a busy team who need me to be organised and extremely reliable. The pace and size of the organisation was, at first, a lot to take in, but the training and support you receive here is excellent and you’ll be amazed how quickly you adapt.
My advice to anyone thinking about a career in this area is to gain as much experience as you can within the retail industry. Research thoroughly the organisations you are applying for - commercial awareness is so important. Also, don't be afraid to go that extra step. When I was preparing for my interview at NEXT, I spent time in their stores speaking with customers so that I could understand what was important to them.
I’m fortunate to be with an organisation committed to the development and progression of their staff. I hope to become a buyer one day and know that if I keep working hard and taking advantage of the opportunities available to me I can achieve this goal.
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