IT services and solutions for retail and hospitality

  • 2 Apr 2012

Guest Blog: My Retail Assist Work Placement

My name is Sawan Patel, I’m currently 18 years old and from Leicester. I attend the Peter Jones Enterprise Academy at Solihull College in Birmingham. This is a unique Level 3 BTEC Course (in enterprise and entrepreneurship). As a student there, I am required to set up and run my own micro business. Throughout this course, I am learning the fundamental skills for setting up and running a successful business.

Recently, the time came to finding a work placement, where I would be in charge of a problem focused task in a business environment. Luckily for me, my Dad used to work at Retail Assist so he put me in contact with Rae (Head of HR). She kindly welcomed me for a two week work placement in Marketing.

I started on the 19th March, I hopped off the train from Leicester early and somehow I managed to get lost in Nottingham so I arrived a couple of minutes late (bad first impression or what?) Eventually I found The Hub and raced up to 6th floor. As soon as I walked through the main door, I was amazed at how nice the office was. I was taken into a room and I went through a brief introduction with Alaine (HR Administrator). I then met Alex (Head of Marketing) and Ellie (Communications Executive). Truthfully, I struggled with remembering the names at first, but, eventually I managed.

I went through an intro to Retail Assist with Alex and she explained what the company does, what products they sell, the client base and so on. I furthered my understanding by looking at the main website. Alex produced a document of activities that she had planned for me over the next two weeks.

I started off with doing a little bit of SEO keyword analysis, for those of you who don’t know what that is; don’t worry, nor did I. It’s basically words that websites have that help rank the page for search engines. This includes a title, description and keywords. So I began searching for keywords that Retail Assist could use to optimize their search engine ranking.

The second day, I spent a couple hours assisting Alex and Ellie with a film project in Nottingham town centre. Ellie and I were trying to reel in shoppers to be interviewed by Alex. It sounds easy, but you should have seen how many people said no even though it was literally a 10/15 second interview! Overall, it was a fun day out and the video turned out great (apart from the scene where you see me slightly trip into a store – how embarrassing).

Over the next few days I was involved in a number of projects, an important one I was responsible for was creating a company profile for Sales Manager Roger. One thing I struggled with was when I had to pick the phone up and enquire about something. It was such a relief that Alaine was sat opposite me because she gave me tips and advice on how to improve my telephone skills. Although these still aren’t perfect, they have improved since being at Retail Assist.

Another project I was involved with was marketing via Social Media. For me this was really interesting (not because I love Facebook in case you’re wondering) but because I helped the team with picture editing, posting statuses, giving suggestions etc.

Last but not least, Alex asked me if I could help find a fine dining restaurant in London for a client event including private dining for 25. She told me to look for top rated restaurants (I thought wow, I hope I’m invited!). I really underestimated how hard this task would be. I had to ring round and research and spreadsheet a document with restaurants that fitted all the criteria.

Luckily, I got a chance to meet most of the Directors at Retail Assist. It was amazing to see how down to earth they all are. To sum up my experience at Retail Assist (before I bore you guys to sleep), I think it is an amazing company to work at and it was a pleasure to meet such kind and helpful staff. I really have learnt a lot and I would find it hard to summarize all of it here on the blog. I thank everybody at Retail Assist for welcoming me and being so hospitable, it was a great experience.

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