Laura Harris

BA Political Science (2009)

harris-laura

"The best points of the course was the choice of modules in second and particularly third year and the level of support you could get from the lecturers before essay hand in and exam time – I really enjoyed being able to take place in open but informed discussions during every seminar as well and that for me was the best part of studying politics"

Where are you working now and what are you doing?

I am on the Tesco Graduate Scheme in Stores Management training for the Store Manager role and I am based in central London.

How has your career developed since graduating from the University of Birmingham?

Having a good degree from the University has helped me in many ways but my career in retail was only able to develop due to my degree as I was then able to get on with the Tesco graduate scheme.

What is the best thing about what you are doing now?

I love being a Graduate with Tesco as you get to experience different aspects of the business whilst being trained in your area to a great extent. I am currently doing project work with the other London graduates in my format. We get to visit different places and see new stores every week whilst also visiting Head Office to get a feel for what it is like to work there. I work with a wide variety of people – staff and customers alike and it has been amazing to hear some incredible life experiences and opportunities through working for Tesco. The people are definitely the best thing about what I am doing now.

Why did you originally apply to do your course at Birmingham?

I have always had a passion for politics and Birmingham has a good reputation in my discipline so that initially attracted me to the University. When I came to visit on an open day, I loved the campus and the beautiful redbrick buildings and of course the clock tower! There was such a great, buzzing atmosphere and I could really imagine myself there. The facilities were good as was the first year accommodation and I also knew the social scene was great and I would be able to make lots of new friends and join in with new activities that I had never done before such as being part of a committee for my political party and debating etc.

What did you think were the best points of the course and the University?

The best points of the course was the choice of modules in second and particularly third year and the level of support you could get from the lecturers before essay hand in and exam time – I really enjoyed being able to take place in open but informed discussions during every seminar as well and that for me was the best part of studying politics. My best bits were definitely meeting a guy in fresher’s week who is now my husband! Also spending time with my friends on the Vale in first year, going to Valefest, supporting my friends in various brilliant plays and shows and having lunch on the grass in front of the library everyday in summer. 

What did you think of the learning experience within the University?

My course helped me formulate a solid argument and be able to corroborate it which is essential when managing so many staff and dealing with people everyday as store manager.  It also gave me a huge amount of confidence and taught me how to plan my time efficiently with all the essays, reading and exams we had to do in politics. I can now apply these skills to planning my weeks in advance at work with the various meetings, conference calls as well as the changing needs of the business, the customers and my staff.

Did you find your degree at Birmingham challenging or easy?

I found my degree challenging but in a good way – the toughest parts were definitely getting all the essays done well and handed in on time as you had to be so well organised and work very hard all the time. The easiest aspects were probably going to lectures and being able to sit and listen rather than having to be thinking hard over an essay or exam paper.

Did you find the University helped you to find your first post?

The university didn't help me with my finding my job but I never contacted them to ask for help.

What advice would you give to current students?

I think it is important to have an open mind with your course and not to be surprised if you do find it hard at first or at times – support your friends and ask for their help if you need it.  Even your flatmates who perhaps aren't on your course can help you and give you new ideas as this was the case for me. I would suggest spending some time studying together and meeting up occasionally too – just knowing you're not the only one going through it helps!

What are your plans for your future career?

I would like to move on up through Tesco – I enjoy being a manager both on the people side and the trading side – my next move will hopefully be on to an Operations Manager role which will be very challenging but will put me leading possibly around 10 to 15 stores in my format and will continue to develop my skills set.