Fashion Management student Emmy reflects on her placement year with Gymshark after receiving support from the Careers team at RGU to obtain the coveted role.
Hi, my name is Emmy. I am originally from Aberdeen and currently studying towards a degree in BA Hons Fashion Management at Robert Gordon University. Throughout my third year of study, I was fortunate enough to undertake a year-long placement with the sports apparel company Gymshark.
Securing my placement
I’d always been interested in completing a work placement during my third year of university, and RGU’s reputation for work experience was an advantage that initially drew me to my course. I first became interested in securing a placement with Gymshark when Donna, Employability Officer from The Centre for Employability and Community Engagement, reached out to my Fashion Management cohort with several opportunities for placements.
The opportunity to work as a Materials Intern at Gymshark was one of these. Gymshark has always been a brand I have admired and looked up to as an iconic sportswear brand in the UK market, not to mention being my go-to for sportswear as an active gymgoer myself. Also, upon realising how much of my work I’d based on sportswear over the last two-years at university, I felt a placement at Gymshark would be an appropriate choice.
To secure the placement, I initially got help from Donna and the placement team, who reviewed my CV and helped me ensure it was appropriate for the role I was applying for. Afterwards, I began the application process.
This firstly included an initial application form answering several in-depth questions. I was then invited to submit a video interview, answering questions regarding my past experience and my university course. Once I reached the final stage of the process, I was invited down to the Gymshark HQ in Birmingham, for a full-day assessment centre, where I discovered I had made it to the final four candidates.
During this, I had to give a presentation to the Materials team based on the brief I’d been given, as well as complete an individual interview with the Head of Materials. I was also required to complete a group task with the other candidates. The entire process took just over a month. I then had to wait another two – very long – months before being informed I had gotten the job!
Moving away to pursue my ambitions
To carry out my placement, I had to relocate from Aberdeen to Solihull, England, a town on the outskirts of Birmingham where the Gymshark headquarters are based. The relocation went smoothly for me. I was overwhelmed with excitement to start my placement, which made moving away from home much easier. Not to mention a few months prior to my move, Gymshark had put me in contact with the other students also undertaking a placement for the year 2022-23.
Altogether, there were 20 students in my intern cohort, each one of us undertaking a different role for our placement. Speaking with the other interns in the months leading up to the move really eased my nerves. It was really reassuring knowing there were so many of us in the same boat and feeling the same way!
Not only this, but I was also able to connect with four other girls, with whom I ended up finding accommodation and living with throughout the duration of my placement. Having others to simply drive to work with everyday made the move much easier for me, as I never felt lonely and morale was always strong within the group.
I settled into my new role well. It was definitely daunting at first, coming in as the little fish in a big pond, and the abundance of expertise and talent in such a large-scale company was intimidating at times. I definitely asked myself several times in the first week, “Why have they hired me?”.
However, the support given to interns at Gymshark was immense, and made the introductory period easy. I was immediately treated the same as any other employee and made to feel valuable from the beginning. As interns, we were introduced to the Chiefs of each area of the business, to gain an understanding of how the business operates as a whole, as well as the values the company believes in. I was also given in-depth training from my manager and wider team on the product area I would be working on.
Gaining invaluable experience
My overall experience at Gymshark was incredible, and beyond anything I would’ve imagined it to be. A massive highlight of mine was being trusted by the Materials team to independently manage the All Over Prints area. This meant that I was solely responsible for managing the workload associated with this and was the main point of contact across the business for matters regarding this area.
I worked closely with the Design and Product Management teams to discuss commercial decisions. I also liaised with suppliers on a daily basis, and hosted my own weekly zoom meetings with them. This was a huge career opportunity for me as it enhanced my ability to work autonomously at such an early stage in my career. It was also a rewarding experience, as I now get to see the Prints that I have worked on being sold on the website. I’m very grateful to have been trusted with such an immense responsibility.
Another amazing part of my Gymshark journey was meeting so many fantastic people. In particular, the four interns which I lived with have become my friends for life and I am so pleased we were able to build such strong connections and lasting relationships.
After completing my placement at Gymshark, I feel as though the expertise and lessons I have learnt throughout the experience will massively help me in my future career. Undertaking my placement in the Materials team exposed me to an aspect of the fashion industry I wasn’t previously accustomed with, that being raw materials and textiles.
Having observed the product function of a fashion business for over a year, I have come to realise the importance of material knowledge for all areas of product, including Design, Product Buying and Product Development. Whilst few professionals in the product function held an understanding of materials, I believe my background in this area will stand me in good stead for any route I choose to pursue in the fashion industry.
I have also thoroughly enjoyed working in the sports apparel sector due to the attention to detail on sustainability, functionality, and durability of clothing, and would love the opportunity to work in this area again in the future.