Large retail brands will typically take graduates from a range of disciplines to rotate around departments within a particular area of their firm. Schemes are often offered within a variety of areas such as human resources, finance, buying, merchandising, logistics or supply chain management. On completion of a number of rotations, which may last between 4-6 months, graduates are typically offered a permanent role in their area of choice. Employers will be looking for commercial awareness, leadership, organisational and communication skills. Let’s take a look at insights directly from graduates working on rotational retail graduate schemes…

1. Day-to-day tasks

‘I have completed 4 months as a Business Analyst in the eGaming team. I was assigned three specific goals to work on, which required specific skills such as User Acceptance Testing, Analysis and writing Functional Specs (Mobile Bingo Web App, Cayetano Games Integration and UAT of over 100 Games). Main highlights include being involved with the launch of the Deal Or No Deal App.’
Customer Security Analyst, Online Operations at Paddy Power
 
‘No two days are the same and are always different. Most days I work alongside colleagues in the department and drive sales by ensuring we have full stock availability for customers to buy, but also being happy to help to all customers, to ensure they get the right service from myself and my team.’
George Manager, at Asda
 
‘Each week I am asked to find answers to a wide array of business problems. How I go about obtaining these answers is entirely up to myself. I engage with senior stakeholders within the business, as well as interrogating our reporting systems to find the best solutions. My current line manager is a Senior Director within the business, therefore many of the recommendations I make get discussed at board level.’
Group Wide Graduate, at WM Morrisons

2. Best and worst things about your job

‘Great support and reasonable hours make good work/home life balance very achievable. Real responsibility and exposure to senior manager and directors throughout the year. Rotational programme means you get to see a lot of the business in quite a short amount of time.’
Graduate Trainee, Internet Retailing at Tesco
 
‘It is an exciting, growing company. I deal with sports and gambling throughout my day, which interests me. I am learning a lot as I work. I thoroughly enjoy my job. No day is the same, as in the sports world things are always changing and you have to learn to react to changes. My knowledge and skills are becoming very diverse as I work in several different areas. None at the minute.’
Online and Marketing Graduate, at Paddy Power
 
‘Real role, real responsibility straight away. Life in Morrisons is busy, in a good way – this means there are lots of opportunities to take on responsibility if you choose to. Your own destiny, you can shape placements into what you want them to be – Business appreciates graduates, yes you get the odd dragon, but this is definitely the exception. No real structure for end of the programme. It seems like a surprise to the graduate team that at the end of the scheme they need to do something to help the graduate secure a suitable position. Makes you feel a bit undervalued. Training is good, but ‘budget cuts’ get in the way – more courses would show that they’re supporting us for the ‘long haul’.’
Group Wide Graduate, at WM Morrisons

3. Average working hours

8am – 6pm

4. Average graduate pay

£25,000 – £27,000

5. Interview tips

Application Advice: Be authentic, show your passion for retail and the customer, and take your time to do everything correctly.
Interview Advice: Be authentic, and work collaboratively with the other candidates. Make sure you do lots of research on the company, departments & strategy as well as focusing lots on the pre-interview tasks.
Assistant Manager, Trading at Boots
 
Application Advice: I would advise them to carry out relevant research and really get an understanding of the retail industry. Demonstrate that they are adaptable to new roles and circumstances.
Interview Advice: Demonstrate that you understand the values and mindset of Sainsbury’s.
Graduate, Marketing and group commercial at Sainsbury’s
 
Application Advice: I would advise them to be themselves and don’t be scared to tell your interviewer your ideas (it’s what they want)!
Graduate Trainee Retail Management , Graduate programme at BHS

Click here to view the full range of job reviews and watch the video below to find out more about what it’s like to work on a retail graduate scheme for M&S.

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Jess Grimsey is an IT Management Trainee for Willmott Dixon. Read her story here.

1
Have your own questions prepared. It's your turn! As the interview comes to a close, one of the final questions you may be asked is "What can I answer for you?" Your interviewer will expect you to have...
2
Research the Company. Do your homework about the employer and the industry so you are ready for the interview question "What do you know about this company?"
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