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Fast fashion tips for students visiting Berlin-based retail giant

Tenacity, passion and a comprehensive LinkedIn profile are some of the key things recruiters look for - that's what De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) students learned during a visit to Europe’s largest online retail platform.

Zalando_inset

The students with their trip lead DMU's Buddy Penfold (left) and Zalando's Chris Raw (right)

Fashion Buying with Marketing and Fashion Buying with Design students gained valuable industry insight from three DMU alumni working at the Zalando headquarters in Berlin, a company which has rapidly grown from two to 12,000 staff in just eight years.

One of them was talent sourcer Chris Raw, who gave students helpful tips and advice on how to stand out among other candidates, including creating an eye-catching CV, getting written endorsements from tutors and employers, and being confident enough to ask for help.

He said: “DMU shaped many aspects of my life during my 20s and I think living in Leicester is the best preparation for working in this industry and abroad. It has to be one of the only cities in the world where everything works so smoothly in terms of its multiculturalism.”

From pulling together trend boards and picking designs by suppliers to negotiating prices and placing orders, students learned about how the company manages eight new collections a year, each one ranging between 50 and 100 styles.

Robyn Redmond, a 2016 Fashion Buying with Marketing graduate, has worked as an assistant buyer for Zalando’s own biggest womenswear brand, called Anna Field, since September. 

She attributes her success in part to the opportunities she had at DMU, saying: “I chose DMU as it has a lot of good industry links and the course seemed relatively rare when I was applying a few years ago.

“I had the chance to do a year-long placement at O’Neil in Amsterdam and I loved it. I never felt like an intern as they invested a lot in developing me and it totally prepared me for the world of work. Experience is so important when it comes to looking for jobs.

“Also, living abroad and getting lost in someone else’s culture is great. Berlin is an amazing city, so creative with so much character.”

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Students also heard how a 2008 course graduate, Verity Conroy, has carved out a global buying career spanning Sri Lanka, Hong Kong and now Berlin.

The kidswear buyer for Zalando said: “I cannot think of anything that I learned on my course at DMU that hasn’t supported my career in some way so far.”

Christina Allan, a first-year Fashion Buying with Design student who was on the visit, said: “I felt a bit nervous going into such a big and successful company, but it turned out to be brilliant. It’s astonishing how fast the company has grown and it’s made me realise that anything is possible.”

First-year Fashion Buying with Marketing student Evie Willis said: “I didn’t think the visit would be as in-depth as it was. Getting to chat with Chris also made it personally relevant, thanks to all his helpful tips on CVs and approaching recruiters like him.”

Rachel Ireland-Whitmore, another first-year Fashion Buying with Design student, said: “It was an eye-opening experience and has really inspired me to do a placement after my second year. It’s given me a goal to visualise for the future.”

Portuguese-born Emilia Djalo has overcome many challenges in her life to be the first person in her family to go to university. The second-year Fashion Buying with Marketing student said: “It was a really lovely day which made graduating and getting a job feel like a reality. Zalando went beyond my expectations in terms of their staff development opportunities and how easy it is for people to move into different roles if they fancy a change.”

Grace King, a first-year Fashion Buying with Design student, said: “It was very informative and I feel I’ve learned so much today and throughout this whole trip. Not only have we done things related to fashion and our course, we’ve also learned a lot about the history and culture of Berlin.”

More than 800 DMU students and staff on nearly 35 courses are in Berlin this week with the award-winning #DMUglobal international experience programme, to take part in academic trips and opportunities unavailable to tourists.

Posted on Thursday 15th June 2017

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