FORMER Coleg Sir Gâr fashion graduate Justine Allen is currently working at Primark’s head office as a buying and merchandising training manager where she is supporting the integration of new system software.
Following graduation, Justine gained employment with Peacocks in Cardiff, here she tells us how her career has developed.
I am currently working on the Primark/Oracle project at our head office to support the integration of new systems software into the business.
My role in the project is to write the training material, which will be delivered to the buying and merchandising community once the new systems go live.
After five years of working in buying, life on the project is very different but I am really enjoying seeing a completely different side to the business and working on one of the biggest Oracle systems projects in Europe.
I split my time between our head offices in Reading and Dublin as we have different teams from the project in both places so lots of travel at times but it’s great being able to network with so many people.
What did you do following graduation?
My first job was at Peacocks head office in Cardiff where I was an assistant buyer on ladies clothing and I spent a year learning the ins and outs of the buying role.
I applied for an assistant buyer job for children’s wear at Primark and got the job. I moved to Reading and I’ve been there for the last four and half years.
I absolutely loved being in such a creative role and being so involved with the product you see in store. I worked my way up in Primark over the next few years and finally ended up on the ladies denim buying team.
At this time a vacancy came up on the Oracle project so I applied as I think it is really important to understand other aspects of the business and as this project is so high profile I wanted to get involved.
You never know what doors will open if you are open to new experiences and I have found already that I have developed skills and knowledge I didn’t have a year ago.
What advice would you give others starting out or studying?
I really felt that I had the tools I needed for employment after my degree at Carmarthen School or Art as the course was so varied, I gained lots of different skills that I have been able to apply to my jobs in fashion.
My main piece of advice would be not to give up or get disheartened if you don’t succeed at securing jobs at first. I applied for so many buying jobs when I graduated and either had no response or an email saying I wasn’t what they were looking for. It is tough being knocked back but when I finally got an interview for the assistant buyer role at Peacocks I knew I had to give everything I had.
My feedback after the interview was that my positivity about the role really shone through so it’s really important to have that attitude when you work in the fashion industry.
Try to gain work experience if you can as it does put you in a better place when it comes to interviews and will give you an idea of whether the role you are doing in work experience is really for you.
I have met a lot of students who want to work in buying but decided that it’s not right for them after a few weeks; likewise I have met lots of students who came to Primark for a placement and are now employed there in buying roles after graduation.