A Central England Co-op colleague is successfully building her career despite these challenging times.
Sophie Mead, Display Technician is celebrating having completed her NVQ Level 2 Signmaking apprenticeship.
The 24-year-old works in the Display Department at the Business Support Centre, in Lichfield, and has been there since May last year making signage and displays for stores, funeral homes and travel shops.
Before starting her apprenticeship, she worked at the Repton Road Food Store in Willington, Derbyshire.
After completing a degree at university, Sophie decided she wanted to be involved in a creative, hands-on job. She saw the apprenticeship advertised on the organisation’s website and it looked like a good chance to develop her skills and gain new ones. The apprenticeship provided the opportunity to learn on the job and get an additional qualification via Walsall College to enhance her career prospects while still earning.
Sophie said: “I have learned so many skills during my apprenticeship, and I’m sure I will still carry on learning more even when it’s ended.”
These include developing her knowledge of software and systems, understanding ways to apply different display materials and working safely in different environments. However, one of the most important skills she has developed has been interacting with new people and colleagues at all levels of the business.
She commented: “I can adapt to a wide range of work environments, from the workshop at the Business Support Centre in Lichfield, to a building site of a new store, or even conference venues.”
Her work is used in over 430 Central England Co-op premises. Sophie said: “I enjoy of seeing my work in store. I feel that the Display Department has massively helped create the new look and feel for our businesses and helped bring an idea into reality. I’m proud to be part of that journey.”
Display Manager at Central England Co-operative, Mark Allen said: “Sophie has shown great dedication in successfully completing her NVQ L2 Signmaking, especially, completing the final part of the course, during ‘lockdown’. She should be proud of her progress over the first 12 months of her employment within the Display Department. Sophie has approached all the tasks she has been given with great enthusiasm and has developed her skills and proficiency to become an important member of the team.”
Sophie is already thinking about her ambitions with the Society, saying: “Ultimately, I would like to go higher up in the business. I feel that relocating from a store to head office has helped me with this, as it has shown me parts of the business that I would not have had an insight into.”
Obviously, these are challenging times for anyone who finds themselves at the start of their career, but Sophie had some encouraging words for those looking for work and considering which direction to take.
She said: “I think they should just go for it. Every little step along the way is an experience you can use for the future. Setbacks such as failed interviews are still an accomplishment and will help develop skills. You definitely need to think about the long-term, and not just think about the now.”