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Career Options in Retail & Sales: Graduate

Graduate schemes are a smart way into the retail and sales industry. They provide a solid structure for an introduction into the way a company works and development of skills you’ll need. Oh, and the salaries and benefits can be pretty attractive, too!

Graduate opportunities in Retail & Sales

- Graduate schemes

With a trusty degree to your name, you could take on a graduate scheme in a wide variety of different pathways in the retail and sales sector. As far as retail is concerned, you could follow a leadership/management focused route, or perhaps develop your knowledge and skills in buying and merchandising, or a company’s distribution network. There are quite a few of these schemes which aim to ‘fast-track’ you into management roles, so plenty of room for career progression here!

Depending on the area of retail you enter, there will be varying focuses again on graduate programmes – for example food or clothing. You’ll often begin by gaining experience on the shop floor if it’s a role with a supermarket or department store company, which will provide you with knowledge of how the business works from the bottom up. Office based programmes will tend to send you on rotations working in different departments and on numerous products and live projects. You’ll receive training and support throughout a graduate programme, and you’ll hold real responsibilities.

A graduate sales role will also have a training structure, and you’ll have responsibilities from an early stage. Sales targets are a huge part of any sales job, and in a graduate position this’ll be no exception!

Will my degree do?

If you’ve managed to achieve a 2:1 in your degree, then most definitely! The majority of retail and sales graduate schemes are open to graduates from any discipline. If you don’t hit a 2:1, then you may struggle a bit more for entry onto graduate schemes, but sometimes an impressive CV filled with retail or sales related work experience could work in your favour.

You’ll still be able to apply for standard office and shop floor roles which present their own opportunities for career progression.

Is postgraduate study necessary?

Retail and sales roles don’t usually require postgraduate qualifications to get your first foot in the door. There are some areas, such as finance in retail, in which some more in-depth knowledge of business and finance could be advantageous, but generally an undergraduate degree (or equivalent) will be enough to get you started on a career path in this sector.