Hello!! I am Amanda. I study Fashion Technology and am currently working as a Materials Intern at Gymshark. In this blog post, I will going to talk you through my placement journey. This will include why I decided to go onto the placement year, how I secured my internship, what is my role about, what I have gained from this placement, as well as what are the differences between being a student and being a professional employee.
Setting the scene:
10th May 2020, this was almost two months after the 1st national lockdown, I received the greatest phone call ever. I GOT THE OFFER FROM GYMSHARK. No words could express my delight at that moment since the process was not a smooth journey.
I started my first placement application back in Nov 2019. I had had around 4 interviews with other brands; I had sent out more than 15 applications, and had secured my 1st internship by mid-February, yet the coronavirus hit which caused the opportunity being canceled in the end. Regardless, I never thought to give up, as I always know that I want to go onto the placement year.
Why I wanted to take the placement year…
Before starting the degree, I have decided to take the placement year option. In addition to believing that there is barely any employer who would hire a graduate student with no relevant experiences, I also wanted to ensure that the career I would like to pursue after the graduation will meet my expectations. Therefore, placement year for me is not only a chance to strengthen my skills but also a platform for me to explore myself better.
How I secure my placement
I had my CV and cover letter drafted before I entered second year and started looking placement opportunities in the very beginning of that year. Drafting the CV and cover letter definitely helped my later application process and allowed me to be more effective and efficient. All I had to do was tailor my CV towards the specific company that I was applying for.
As a student looking for opportunities in fashion industry, Fashion Workie was the website that I visited the most. Almost every single apparel retailer would share their recruitment info on there. LinkedIn was the other platform that helped me to find out lots of opportunities.
I had a couple interviews before I secured my placement year with Gymshark. Although I have had all the preparations, I still found myself nervous and anxious in the interview. However, looking back now, I can 100% sure that it is okay to be nervous. I found the STAR (situation; tasks; actions; results) technique very useful in the interview process. This method helped me to structure my answers and eased my anxiety. Practicing with other people is definitely another helpful approach to be less nervous in the formal interview. I have gained so much constructive feedback from my friends, lecturer, family via practicing with them, which all turned out to be positive nutrition for my interview with Gysmahrk.
What’s my role about & What I have gained
As a materials intern, my main responsibility includes developing materials and all-over prints. The below illustrations are the summary of how the material & AOP (all over print) development goes. I enjoy checking colours on prints and having chances to learn something new about textile every day. This role requires considerable communication with the Hong Kong team, designers, and product developers, especially when working from home, which is the skill I am practicing to improve.
I was used to giving people the whole story of the situation, while never realising that this would potentially distract the audience. There was a few times that I gave out too much detail of information to the designer which made the whole situation even more complex. Now, I have learned that simplicity is always the key to successful communication. It is important to know your audiences and tailor the conversation content toward them.
Believe it or not, this internship has not only enhanced my technical and transferrable skills, but also strengthened my mental health.
I am genuinely so grateful for the culture within the business which values everyone’s ideas. I was not a person that could comfortably express my ideas or opinions during the meeting. Yet, the respect that I got from my manager and colleagues whenever I speak have increased my confidence massively. One of the values within Gymshark is that there are no right or wrong answers; there is only feedback. By bearing this concept in mind, I can now share my ideas to people without feeling super anxious.
The other value that I appreciate lots and have now become my motto is “when you are on top of the game, change the game”. This was originally quoted from the book called <Legacy> by our CEO Steve. Being disruptive and creative are the other two main gains I have received from this placement.
Difference between a student and an employee
After the past eight months’ experience of working, I found out that there are differences between being a student and being an employee. Firstly, self-descipline and time management are essential elements in the workplace, especially nowadays when working from home. There are no timetables in the workplace; therefore, knowing how to prioritize tasks plays an important role in the working environment. The pandemic has caused me to be working from home for almost half of my placement year. I was struggling slightly in the beginning as it really requires the ability of time management. Regardless, there are still some advantages when working from home—for instance, the flexibility of going to the shop and doing work out during the day. Secondly, as an employee, it is critical to be proactive and curious about things and people. As no tutor and professors are feeding you the knowledge and setting up an assignment to ensure you have fully understood the context, it is important to being curious about all the new knowledge and being able to ask questions.
Overall, my placement year so far has brought me so many positive gains that I was not expected. I have improved my communication skill massively, broadened my horizons in the textile industry, expaned my social net working, and came out with an idea for my final year dissertation. What is more, I have found a better me.