We recently caught up with Joshua about how he secured a graduate role with Tesco, how he built his commercial awareness before the interview and his top tips for Bright Network members looking to follow in his footsteps.
Why a role in Tesco?
Despite studying a law degree, I have always had an interest in retail especially in supermarkets and when applying for the business graduate programme, I was attracted to their diverse working environment and wide range of different placements that they had on offer. The people who work in Tesco are very friendly and offer lots of support for those who want to progress into management roles and develop their skills. Retail is a challenging and fast-paced industry. Customers want great products at great value, which they can buy easily and it’s a retailer’s job to deliver this in the right way for them. A role in Tesco would enable me to help them deliver their purpose of serving shoppers a little better every day. For me, Tesco was a great place to begin my career and develop my awareness and understanding of the retail sector.
How did you build your commercial awareness before the interview?
I read articles in newspapers such as the Financial Times and The Telegraph that related to the retail industry in general as well as about Tesco and how they have recently begun to increase their profits again after a poor financial performance between 2013 and 2015. I also undertook research on their main website to understand more about their values and initiatives as well as reading about the impact of COVID-19 on the retail sector. Furthermore, I did research into how other retail chains operate and since the assessment centre was on sustainability, I ensured that I looked into how Tesco is helping to reduce their carbon emission and use of plastic.
How did Bright Network help you secure this role?
Bright Network was very helpful, especially during the summer of 2020 when they organised an internship experience in commercial law which I took part in, and it allowed me to gain an insight into areas of law that I did not know of previously. Also, I found some of the webinars useful and one in particular that I found useful was a webinar featuring author and graduate careers expert, Christopher Stoakes which focused on how to develop commercial awareness. Having the regular commercial awareness updates sent via email have also helped me to keep on top of current affairs as they provide useful summaries which are easy to understand and remember. Bright Network has lots of information on the retail sector such as giving advice on how to secure a role and the latest news on the changes and developments happening within the sector. They have helped me to bridge the gap between leaving university and starting a role because of their careers advice and for giving me the opportunity to gain exposure of the workplace.
What top three tips would you give Bright Network members looking to follow in your footsteps?
1. Keep your options open and to consider other areas of interest in case you are unsuccessful or not having much luck trying to get into the main area of your choice. In light of the pandemic and the impact it has had on the jobs market, I feel it is crucial to keep in mind different job areas because you may not be able to get into a field you are passionate about but having a consideration for other areas exposes you to more opportunities. These opportunities may just be as invaluable and enriching and bridges the gap between where you are currently at and also where you want to eventually be at. For me, I wanted to go into law and become a solicitor but going into retail is just as rewarding and exciting and will set me up for potentially seeking roles in other sectors in the future.
2. Do not let failure drag you down. For me, experiencing failure meant I was able to recognise what my strengths were as well as what needed to be improved. I would also say do not be too harsh or critical with yourself, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Everyone at some point experiences setbacks and what helps to overcome these is to have resilience and to take a step back and see how far you have come as well as recognising that instances of failure do not define who you are. I believe that experiencing struggle is the best way to succeed as it makes you work harder in order to achieve a particular aim.
3. Take advantage of and embrace the various volunteering or work experience opportunities that are out there. Working in any organisation will provide valuable experience, even if it’s not in a field that you want to go into. Taking on opportunities in other areas may lead to potential future employment being offered to you or maybe these other areas may develop another field of interest for you to take into consideration. Volunteering is a great way of learning new skills and in helping others. It will also stand out to employers as they look for suitable candidates who are willing to help those in need and will therefore improve your chances of employment. Many students feel that their experience in volunteering or work placements is not relevant to the roles they are applying for, however this is not the case as it is a way of building your CV and allowing you to develop key employability skills.
What’s been the toughest interview question you’ve faced?
The toughest interview question I faced was when I was given a scenario to answer which was about an idea for promoting sustainability within Tesco and how I would respond to ideas within the project being rejected as well as setbacks that may occur. I found this particularly challenging because I did not expect to be asked questions about how my idea would be delivered and what I would do if certain aspects of the idea went wrong. Since the questions being asked related to real life situations that may occur within Tesco, it made me think more about how to answer them and consider the ways in which I would overcome these issues and in bringing the idea to life. These questions formed the basis for how I would perform in the company and were quite difficult due to never having retail experience before and instead had to think about previous experience working on group projects.