My placement experience


Student profile

Anna Stitson

"My best moment at Surrey has definitely been completing my placement year. I have developed lots of different professional and personal skills."
Placement company
TJX Europe

"The Professional Training placement was a huge factor in my decision to come to Surrey, since I felt it would really help to improve my employability, as well as guiding my future career choices. I was also impressed by the league table results, as well as the campus and facilities.

I attended an open day at Surrey. I was really impressed by a talk on the high employability rates of Surrey graduates, which definitely helped me decide to choose Surrey.

Anna Stitson
Anna Stitson

I also felt that the students I met were genuinely enthusiastic and passionate about what they were studying, which made me feel that the teaching and course content was likely to be engaging and exciting. The students and staff I met all seemed really pleased to be here and to be a part of the University.

Some of my lectures are delivered by guest speakers who are actively working within the field, such as therapists. This makes their lectures engaging and furthers my understanding of topics since they can give real-life insight and anecdotal examples. I also enjoy the element of peer discussion and debate which is encouraged within most of my lectures.

The academic staff on my course are all experts in what they teach and are all actively involved in research, which means they are able to share great depth of knowledge and information. Most of my lecturers are engaging and approachable.

I lived on Manor Park accommodation in my first year at Surrey. Whilst this accommodation is slightly further from the university, it is in an ideal location for Surrey Sports Park.

"I feel that living in university accommodation is a really good way to meet new people and socialise, particularly during your first year at Surrey."

 

There are lots of great things about life at Surrey. Guildford town centre is easily accessible from campus and is a really nice area with a good shopping centre and nice bars and restaurants. The students' union nightlife on campus is really fun, with lots of themed nights and events.

Other than using the Library, I like to meet friends in some of the social spaces on campus such as the common rooms, or go for lunch or a coffee in one of the cafes.

I did my placement at TJX Europe, which is the company which owns TK Maxx and Homesense stores. I spent six months in merchandising, during which time my role was to allocate small accessories (purses, belts and occasion bags) to over 250 stores across Europe, based on local demographic, product type, price point etc.

Some highlights were: store visits in Europe; getting to present to a company vice president; and beating Christmas sales targets. Following this I spent six months with the handbags buying team. My main roles were competition shopping to understand the market; assisting buyers on vendor visits to select products; and working on strategies to improve our product base. Key highlights were solo travelling abroad to check out the competition and getting the chance to negotiate my own deal - it was so cool seeing product which I had helped buy in the stores!

During my placement, a key skill I developed was the ability to confidently and quickly build rapport with new people, particularly through learning to adapt my style of communication. This was important since my role varied from more corporate settings such as meetings to more relaxed catch ups with vendors.

"Surrey is also within easy reach of London by train, which is handy for days out and shopping."

 

Some highlights were: store visits in Europe; getting to present to a company vice president; and beating Christmas sales targets. Following this I spent six months with the handbags buying team. My main roles were competition shopping to understand the market; assisting buyers on vendor visits to select products; and working on strategies to improve our product base. 

I had the opportunity to develop my creativity and presenting skills, since a large part of my role was to provide visual and verbal feedback to the rest of my team on the product I had seen in the competition.

During my placement I had 12 weeks of training on the graduate scheme, which helped to set me up for my role by ensuring that I was totally competent and confident to carry out the tasks which were expected of me. I had regular catch ups with my manager, which were based around feedback on ways which I could improve my work and also what I was doing really well. The company also provided a number of workshops, focusing on aspects including time management and personality typing, which I found to be helpful in my development as a professional. I was in regular contact with my placement tutor and had meetings to discuss my progress. I also found the Professional Development Review, which tracked my progress throughout placement, really helpful as a means of setting targets to help me achieve the optimum from my placement year.

I now feel well prepared to transition into the world of employment when I finish my degree and have even been offered a permanent position by my placement providers for when I graduate! The experience I have gained will not only boost my CV credentials, it has also helped inform my decision as to the career path I would like to take. Aside from all this, my personal development in terms of confidence, work ethic and motivation has been invaluable.

My best moment at Surrey has definitely been completing my placement year. I have developed lots of different professional and personal skills, improved my confidence and helped to set up my future career path.

"I would definitely recommend a placement year to others."

Since I have started Surrey, I have changed in a number of ways. I am much more of an active learner, feel more motivated and seek to enhance my study by reading about subjects which I am interested in. I have much more confidence, for example I am able to deliver presentations and engage in debate.

After I have graduated, I am hoping to pursue a career in fashion buying. I have been offered a position by my placement providers which would help me to progress into a buying role, but will also apply for other similar roles, since the location of my placement wasn't ideal for me.

Overall, my experience at the University of Surrey has been really good. I have found my degree course interesting and challenging and have loved the social aspects of uni life."

 

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