Beth Dawkins

"People in the fashion industry know about MMU"
About my career

Studying for a BA (Hons) in Fashion Buying gave me a well-rounded insight into the fashion business, and the course taught me a range of skills because the content was so varied. As well as learning skills specific to fashion buying, like fashion theory, the course also taught me about marketing strategy, visual merchandising and supply chain management; all of which are valuable tools that I use every day. I undertook a course module focusing on supply chains that, at the time, I found particularly challenging but it meant that when I started my first job I understood the procedures involved in global sourcing and logistics. Having that knowledge helped me to advance in my career path quicker.

As part of my course, I had a placement working as a Design Assistant at Alexon. I worked with colleagues who had previous experience working for Arcadia and who had contacts with managers at ASOS. Through networking with these colleagues, I was also able to undertake a three-month placement with ASOS. Networking with people is so important and it really does help you to learn and progress – you never know when a contact might help you out. Both of my placements prepared me for working in the industry full-time. I think it is crucial that students take any opportunity to experience the working environment.

I subsequently applied for a trainee scheme at Next as a Trainee Buyer after an HR Officer from the company visited us at MMU. I have now been at Next for over 3 years! It is a great place to work and they offer plenty of training opportunities. As a trainee, I spent time undertaking intensive courses to give me knowledge of the business. The more training sessions you can undertake, the better your understanding is of the business you work for, which will help your personal development and confidence in the industry. Working here has helped me flourish since leaving MMU. Even as a trainee I proposed ideas and was given the opportunity to look after my own range from designs right through to product in store. It is rare to get that kind of career opportunity in other larger companies.

My top tip for students is…

My top tip would be to network. Get yourself on LinkedIn and do your best to find a placement. It is often not what you know, but who you know.

Also, time management is key. As a buyer, I’m always having to plan my time wisely, and if you don’t plan your time in such a busy environment, you miss out on valuable research and information about the market and the latest trends.

I’m inspired by…

My dissertation mentor was Tina Wallace and I have never met a more kind or supportive person in my career. She really took a true interest in my field of study for my dissertation and supported me through personal issues near the dissertation deadline. I am still proud of my dissertation today and will always be grateful to Tina. One of my other lecturers had a long professional career working for JC Penney – he knew the industry inside out and the knowledge he share has helped me to be as successful as I have.

Why I love Manchester Met

People in the fashion industry know about MMU. When I tell industry professionals that I studied at MMU, they always say what a great place it is for educating graduates in fashion – and they are right!