Whether you’re looking for your first job or thinking of making a change, it can be tempting to stay within your chosen field of experience. But to truly keep your options open, you need to consider two things: all jobs come with a wealth of transferable skills, and a company’s industry does not always dictate its career opportunities. It’s important to remember that your experience can help you land a position in an industry you do not have a direct background in.
The fashion industry employs over half a million people in the UK, and not all of them are cutting edge designers. Behind each clothing company is a team of marketing and PR professionals, web developers, distribution managers and many more people that help the brand operate smoothly from design room innovation to in-store sale. To gain a little more insight into the range of disciplines employed behind the scenes of a fashion retailer, we spoke with three members of staff at bonprix about their career paths, transferable skills and how they landed positions in the fashion industry.
Our interviewees are Rosie – Offline Campaign Manager, Paul – Services Manager and Lydia – Project Manager.
How did you land your current role and why did you pursue it?
Rosie – I had four years’ experience working in a couple of marketing roles. I was lucky enough to get a taste of both B2C and B2B companies’ communications. Through that experience, I figured out exactly what my interests and strengths were and what type of environment I wanted to work in. This realisation led me to the role that I am in now and I couldn’t be happier.
Paul – My first role as a graduate was in a marketing department where I was coordinating direct mail campaigns. I was identified as someone who had a head for numbers so I was drafted into the analysis team and I’ve done this ever since.
Lydia – I was given the opportunity to work on a bonprix website migration project which then led to further opportunities focusing on specific project work. bonprix had a big project on the horizon which involved the migration of a warehouse and customer systems to the UK and I was asked to play the role as Business Change Manager on the project, which I accepted and thoroughly enjoyed.
What kind of work experience did you undertake in the past?
Rosie – Before gaining full-time marketing positions after university I was lucky enough to have had jobs from the age of 16: waitressing, bar work, retail, promotions and stewarding.
Paul – From the age of 16 I worked in supermarkets and pubs, which gave me a good work ethic and customer focus.
Lydia – My placement year at university was spent at a nursery and baby company, and by the time I left I was a product expert for their full range of pushchairs and car seats. My work experience allowed me to put into practice some of my learnings but most importantly prepared me for the real world when I completed my degree.
What’s the best part of working for bonprix/in fashion?
Rosie – The best part about working in fashion is that I have a personal interest in the industry. Being able to see how the business works and taking part in activities that all link to a subject that genuinely appeals to me is a real bonus and something that provides great job satisfaction.
Paul – The team at bonprix are fantastic. As long as you are working with people you like, coming to work can be enjoyable.
Lydia – It is exciting working for a brand with such great potential. It’s been great seeing bonprix grow in the UK and it’s so exciting to see what the future holds.
What would you look for in a potential employee?
Rosie – A potential employee needs to be passionate about the position, have a clear eagerness to learn and show enthusiasm. If they don’t have any direct experience in the industry then I look for transferable skills, two main ones being a good work ethic and being articulate.
Paul – Somebody who I’m happy to spend 40 hours of my life each week with and somebody with the aptitude for the job they are going to be doing and a willingness to learn.
Lydia – Experience is really important to me: what have they done previously and what can they bring to the role. I also think adaptability is a really positive thing to have in any team. Not being able to adapt to change can really hold you back in your career!
If you could go back in time, what advice would you give your younger self?
Rosie – I would try and think about tasks in a more strategic way, but my way of thinking has been developed over time and recognising the journey is a very rewarding exercise. I’d suggest to my younger self to not worry so much and enjoy the opportunities that come my way.
Paul – Don’t get stressed about things. Look at your boss – if they’re not worried, you don’t have to be.
Lydia – I probably would have planned my time a bit better and started my university coursework a lot earlier in order to stop that last minute panic. Fail to plan, plan to fail!
Fashion is, of course, just one of the many industries you can consider working in. Keep an eye out for positions in which you could use your experience in new and exciting fields, or look for those with strong transferable skills. Not all positions require direct, prior experience, but what they do require is someone passionate, adaptable and ready to make the most of every opportunity they’re given.