Career interview: how I became an online merchandiser.

I’ve been talking again to graduates working at The Entertainer to find out how about their different career paths and to ask what advice they would give to current students or recent graduates keen to follow a similar route. This week James Norman, Senior Online Merchandiser told me his story. James Norman

What did you study at university and what impact did it have on your career path?

I studied Management with Leadership at The University of Exeter. It gave me a good understanding of economics and basic business principals which led me to look for work within the business / commerce sphere.

What work experience did you undertake per landing a permanent position?

I worked in retail for a year at the company Bose, worked for a year as an intern at a charity, whilst undertaking a 1 day a week internship at The Entertainer.

Did you take part in any societies while at university, and if so, did you learn any valuable skills from your time?

Yes I was heavily involved in the MotorSoc, and participated in the national British University Karting Championship. I was head of my team, which gave me early experience in leading a small group and making quick decisions based on strategy. I was also involved in the Christian Union, Music Society and half a year in the Kite Surfing society!

What advice do you have for those who are just starting university right now?

Get experience. Jump on any opportunity to do a placement, or interact with companies. Having a year in industry will be really valuable in building contacts, and putting you above graduates with no real-work experience. Also try out as many societies and events as you can at the start of university, as it’s a great time to try new things and discover new passions.

How important is a brand’s culture when choosing positions to apply for?

I feel it is important. Culture can be a great frustration and demotivating to an individual if their own culture and values don’t align with the company’s. I think my value on this has grown since being in the workplace and having seen the impact of negative aspects of culture.

What is the most challenging part of your current role?

Time management. Having a diverse role creates a lot of separate responsibilities, all of which require attention. A lot of issues often arise which require immediate attention, and this then results in having to restructure my day and evaluate the priority of tasks.

Has your role changed, or have your responsibilities evolved, as you’ve worked for The Entertainer?

Yes very much so, I originally started as a Merchandising Assistant. After our Web Developer left the company, I trained in web coding skills outside of work to make up for the gap in competency in our team. This led to me taking on more technical tasks. I have also managed two of our marketplace accounts, currently working closely with TESCO to ensure a strong commercial plan. As my commercial and analytics skills have grown in the role, new responsibilities have come up.

Don’t forget to contact Careers on you want some help with your career planning and job seeking. James mentioned how important it is to get experience, and we can help with this too.