I Got Hired: Merchandising Placement at The Very Group

Posted on: 3 December 2020 in Student experiences

Student profile

Helena Peters is a BA Business Management student, currently undertaking a year in industry placement year with The Very Group at their HQ in Liverpool.

Can you describe your current role?

I am currently working as a Merchandising Assistant at The Very Group in Liverpool, within Men's River Island, Topman and Burton.

In my placement year role I assist the Merchandising team with administrative tasks such as raising contracts with suppliers, taking part in product selection meetings for new season stock, and ensuring deliveries are on time so that products are available for our customers to order.

Do you have any top tips to share with future and current students?

I used the Careers & Employability services during my first two years at university, particularly at the beginning of second year as the placement search begins. I tried to keep up-to-date with the Careers events calendar on Handshake and I would attend as many events as I could with the employers that I was interested in.

I managed to meet with employees from The Very Group at events several hosted in the Career Studio, which helped me immensely when it came to applying for my job as I had already made contact with key people in the business.

I made sure to connect with those I met on LinkedIn and this helped my network to grow as well as showing them that I had a keen interest in the business. I also used the Careers Studio to gain advice on changes I should make to my CV so that it was attractive to employers as this is one of the first impressions they get of you.

My advice would be to attend as many careers events as you can, and if you can't make the event, connect with the host of the event on LinkedIn as they may update their page with tips for applications or key points from the event.

Also don't be afraid to message employers on LinkedIn, even if they don't reply they may see your name and remember it for the future! LinkedIn is so important; keep active by liking relevant posts as this can increase your reach, and post any achievements from university on there to show your motivation and eagerness to network.

What was your best experience while studying your course at the University of Liverpool?

So far, I have really enjoyed the experience of meeting so many other students from different backgrounds and learning how to collaborate and communicate with one another.

In group assignments for various modules, I have worked with peers from a range of countries and cultures, enabling me to gain invaluable experience of what a real workplace environment is like. Especially with working at my current job at The Very Group, diversity and inclusion is really important here, so having exposure to diverse group projects at university has helped me to appreciate this even more.

Which aspects of your course do you think have been the most beneficial to your career development?

Working as part of a team is a key skill that I use every day, whether it be helping someone else in my team by doing a job for them, or whether I'm relying on my team to help me in return with a problem. I think this has been facilitated through group work during my course, as I learnt how to use my strengths to help others in my group as well as allowing others to fill in my weaknesses in order to achieve a common goal.

As part of my business degree I also must be analytical in my work, which is a skill that I will use throughout my career, especially in Merchandising. My course has enabled me to become comfortable with sourcing data and using numbers to analyse problems and make decisions, which is definitely beneficial for me as most of my work is on Excel and data sheets.

My course has also taught me a lot regarding communication skills, particularly because my degree is composed of many assessment techniques including presentations, group projects, individual essays and written exams. Through these, I have developed good written communication skills, along with verbal communication and the ability to present to people of importance. This is a skill that is crucial in the workplace, especially due to working during the COVID 19 epidemic, I have really had to develop my communication skills online as this is how most conversations are held.


What is the first thing that you think of when you think of the University of Liverpool?

All of the resources that are available to you during your time at the university - you just have to take advantage of them!

Any further advice for students looking for job opportunities?

Don't be disheartened by rejections, this is inevitable when you are up against hundreds if not thousands of other students in your same position; just ask for feedback if possible and use this new information to your advantage.

I managed to find a placement during a worldwide pandemic by sheer perseverance and keeping in touch with the Early Careers Partner at The Very Group, Lyndsay, who I messaged constantly asking for updates and showing my interest as much as possible.

If you can, try to secure part-time work around university as this really enhances your CV and allows you to develop a lot of transferrable skills which employers will inevitably ask you to show examples of in interviews. I had a part-time job in retail during university and not only did it teach me invaluable skills and earn me some money, but it also shows employers that I can balance my time well by juggling university with the responsibility of a job.