How I got my placement: Retail Commercial Management at M&S

Katy M&S

Leeds Management student Katy Ingham completed an internship with Marks & Spencer this summer, through the Leeds Internship Programme. In this post she shares what she learnt and her tips on finding and securing internships.

What is the internship about?

The internship gave me insight into a commercial management role within Marks and Spencer’s. During my internship I worked in the York store. The 8 weeks consisted of trips to distribution sites to understand the whole supply chain, an all expense paid few days in London, where I was lucky enough to spend time in Head Office with the customer insight team and complete the M&S leadership course. However, most of the internship was in store, where I discovered how to be a commercial manager. Typical tasks involved reading figures, implementing changes to the shop floor, engaging staff in giving excellent customer service and creating staff notice boards. Finally, I was given a project based on the new campaign ‘Making every moment special’ for M&S customers. This involved creating my own ideas to add value to the company, which I presented to the Head of Region. I was able to develop my professional network, confidence and commercial awareness throughout my experience.

Therefore, if retail is the sector that excites you and that you wish to work in, I couldn’t recommend doing this internship enough. The perks of the organisation and culture embedded within are excellent and was somewhere I felt proud to be a part of.

A bit about me

I am currently a BA Management student at Leeds and part of the Nurturing Talent Mentor scheme (NTMS) in the Business School, where I was lucky enough to be paired up with a member of M&S Head Office operations team. Prior to this internship I had experience in HR at a local firm in my hometown. I also had experience in managing information systems. I believe having the above on my C.V. was extremely useful in gaining an interview and formulating examples throughout the interview. However, less relevant experience was also invaluable to the success of my appliaction, such as my part-time job at Headingley Stadium.

Application process

I discovered the role on the Careers Centre’s vacancies website, after extensive researching of summer internships. It was really important to me that I could work in a top organisation in the North of England. Therefore, discovering this opportunity through the Leeds Internship Programme was extremely exciting. The mentor relationship I had was also beneficial in this process as she helped me improve my interview technique and confidence. The process involved an online application, online tests and then a final interview, which involved an interview and presentation.

My advice

My motto is, ‘You have to be in the game to win it’. Therefore, don’t be put off by the competitive nature of internships and placements, look out for mentoring schemes in your school or faculty and get involved with what the career centre has to offer, such as the career’s fairs which I found inspiring and exciting.  I also participated in placement hunt club which ran weekly in my school.

When I gained an interview for the role I was extremely pleased with the help I received from the careers centre. I had a mock interview, which included constructive feedback. This, along with the support from my mentor was crucial for the success of my internship.

When it comes to applying for jobs, make sure you research the organisation, their values, why you want to be the person they select and more importantly how you want to use this as a stepping stone onto the graduate scheme of that organisation.

Finally, during interviews be proud of your previous experiences and be confident in your abilities, as in any interview process they are already interested in you and want to find out more about you. That’s why they picked you!

The Careers Centre is here to help you with all things careers and employability related, whether that be thinking about what you want to do after university, finding and applying for opportunities, further study or anything else. Here’s how we can help you.

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Filed under Advice, How I got my job, Work Experience

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