Case study

Customer development executive — Katie Jenkins

Katie studied social policy and criminology at the London School of Economics (LSE) before relocating to Waltham on the Wolds in the Midlands to take up a customer development executive role with Mars Pet Care UK

What planning went into the relocation?

I already had some experience with moving around, as I left my family home in South West London to move to King's Cross for university. I lived in halls, flats and then a house, moving every year.

I was accepted onto the Mars Leadership Experience graduate scheme where I'd be placed in either Slough or the Midlands. I was hoping to work in the London area so I'd be close to home and get to work in their confectionery branch. The Midlands office deals with pet care, so when I was told I was going to Waltham, it was a surprise - but I knew it was an amazing opportunity and Mars only takes on 12 graduates a year.

Initially, I didn't really think about the move too much. I was starting in September and received the offer in February, so I spent five months exploring Central and South America and didn't really give myself time to worry. When I got back home, I went straight into 'move mode' and focused on finding a flatshare, booking a removal company and deciding what to take with me.

Were you concerned with moving away? What was the reality like?

I had some knowledge of the area as my boyfriend went to the University of Nottingham, so I'd already experienced the city and its nightlife - but only through the eyes of a student. I knew it would be a different experience being a professional in a new place so I was quite worried.

I moved in with two strangers who were also on the graduate scheme with me and looking back now, it was such a great decision. All three of us are like peas in a pod and are really close. None of us knew the area as we'd all relocated, so we supported each other and explored it together.

How has your employer helped with this transition?

Before I made the move, the company added us to a Facebook group where all the previous graduates and other people on the graduate scheme were talking and helping each other out. This community explained about the best areas to live in, recommended the best estate agents to use and were generally really helpful.

Mars provided a relocation bonus to get us started, which was great but it only hit my bank account on the first day of my new job. That meant I couldn't use it to pay my deposit or fees, so I still had to borrow some money.

What advice would you give to final year students considering relocating for their career?

Don't let relocating put you off accepting a good job. At first, I didn't want to move away from my home city where my boyfriend and all my friends were. However, you don't get the opportunity to work for a great company every day and if the move is the only thing stopping you, just go for it.

If you work for a company that has multiple offices, and the location of your job becomes a problem later on, you can talk to your manager and discuss the possibility of being relocated elsewhere. They want you to stay, so don't be worried about having that conversation once you've settled in, perhaps after a year or so when you've had chance to impress in your role.

Remember, no matter how far away you are, if you're still in the UK it's never impossible to get home. I still come home most weekends to see my friends and family and still feel part of everything. Once you start working and earning, you can control your social life and see your friends as much as you want. Sure, you might miss a few things, but you'll make new friends and always have your old friends back home.

Do you have any tips on how to get by on a tight budget?

If you're moving out of London, you'll save so much money on things like rent, travel and going out. There are massive perks for living in London, but the cost of living isn't one of them. Most graduates would struggle to afford to live in London unless they're lucky enough to have family living there.

Also, you should definitely think about living in a houseshare if you're moving to a new city where you don't know anyone - you save money and make friends. While I'm sure they can be hit and miss at times, I've only ever heard positive things about them.

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