Is choosing a career path as important as you think?
Choosing a career path can seem like a daunting prospect when graduating; it starts to feel as though the choices you make now will set your future in stone and make or break you.
Luckily that’s not the case! Whether you’re unsure about your choice of degree or feeling daunted by the prospect of launching your career, the decisions you make now don’t have to dictate the course of your entire life.
In your career, the skills you learn from university and work experience can be transferred between industries. Many people find themselves drawn to jobs that on the surface have little to do with their degree, or may even completely change their career after learning where their strengths lie in different areas.
We asked three colleagues in the same company how their different career paths led them to roles within the fashion industry. Here you can read the experiences of Rosie, Offline campaign manager, Marketing Services department manager Paul and Suzanna, Marketing Campaign Manager from international retailer bonprix.
What impact did university have on your career?
Paul – I did a degree in Maths and Computer Science. Rightly or wrongly, the opportunities I’ve had in my career aren’t really open to people without a degree, so it’s had a huge impact.
Suzanna – University was invaluable to me in terms of transferable skills such as teamwork, organising and presenting thoughts/ideas, working creatively, project management and so on. It also helped me become a better writer, which has served me well as a journalist and copywriter.
What career choices led you to this current role with bonprix?
Rosie – I had four years’ experience working in a couple of marketing roles, and I was lucky enough to get a taste of both B2C and B2B company 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 (15 years ago!) was in a Marketing department, coordinating direct mail campaigns. I was identified as someone who had an eye for numbers, so was drafted into the analysis team and I’ve done this ever since.
Suzanna – My early work experience was admin work, then writing as a journalist for news agencies and newspapers to get a foot in the door. I was freelancing as a copywriter when a contract position came up here at bonprix.
What’s the most boring task you’ve had to do in any job?
Rosie – Every job has admin tasks that are less exciting than the others but these tasks must be done!
Suzanna – Stuffing envelopes (hundreds of them!)
What’s the most exciting?
Rosie – The most exciting tasks for me are those that don’t happen every day – the ideas sessions, photo shoots and events, trips to head office (in Europe) and learning of upcoming plans.
Paul – Seeing the results of a new campaign you have been involved in is always exciting, as you can see the proof that what you are doing is worthwhile. I’m lucky that I’m never bored at work.
What traits would you look for in an employee?
Rosie – They need to be passionate about the position, have a clear eagerness to learn, and enthusiasm. If they don’t have direct experience, they need transferable skills. They also need to be articulate and hard working.
Paul – I’d need somebody who I’m happy to spend 40 hours of my life each week with, somebody with the aptitude for the job they are going to be doing and a willingness to learn.
Suzanna – They have to have the ability to see the bigger picture, think creatively and respect what other people do.
If you could go back in time, what advice would you give your younger self?
Paul – Don’t get so stressed about things. Look at your boss – if they’re not worried, you don’t need to be worried.
Suzanna – Read up on marketing and PR (and get some work experience) as the industry is expanding, evolving and becoming increasingly important to our economy.
Sometimes the only way to find out if you are well suited to a career is to get stuck in and try it out. However you need to be prepared to move on if you find it’s not the one for you. Some people change career paths three or four times during their lifetime, so don’t consider it a failure if you change direction a few times before you find the right path.
Remember, your career is a marathon not a sprint!