You probably wouldn’t think retail and technology can come together in one career – unless you’re working at an electronics store, that is.
But Sheridan College Software Development and Network Engineering graduate Kiran Choong’s experience with TJX Canada – the leading global off-price apparel and home fashions retailer that operates Winners, HomeSense and Marshalls stores here in Canada – proves otherwise.
“Co-op students at TJX are not just students. They are treated as a part of the company and that’s the best thing about working at TJX.” —Kiran Choong, Business Analyst, TJX Canada
As a student, she completed not just one but two co-op work terms at TJX Canada’s head office in Mississauga, Ontario, as part of the company’s Student Placement Program.
The program places students in a wide range of departments, including Finance, Planning & Allocation, Store Operations, Merchandising, Product Development, Marketing and more.
“Students are given lots of opportunities to learn and grow,” Kiran says. “The teams are fun to work with and are friendly and very supportive.”
Let’s rewind: TJX Canada’s application and interview process
Kiran heard about her most recent placement with TJX from her co-op advisor at Sheridan, so she started the application process by emailing her resume to a recruiter there. Another way to apply is through TJX Canada’s employer profile here on TalentEgg.
“I was interviewed by the Senior Talent Acquisition Specialist and my manager. They asked me a few behavioural questions, such as how I handled difficult situations in past, what are my strengths and weaknesses, and questions like where do I see myself in next five years,” she recalls.
Her manager asked a few questions specific to the co-op position she was applying for – Business Analyst – as well as about her program and previous work experience. “I gave them examples of the situations where I proved myself to be a good team player, as well as my willingness to learn and ability to learn quickly.”
Kiran says her previous co-op experience with the company was definitely an asset, along with the fact that she was working toward completing a certificate in business analysis from the University of Toronto in addition to her three-year program at Sheridan.
“Employers are usually more concerned with your work experience and thus they prefer applicants who have done co-ops or relevant work experience,” she says. “It will set you apart from other applicants.”
What to expect: The co-op student experience
Starting a co-op work term at TJX Canada means a whirlwind of orientations, training sessions and meeting a ton of new people. When she began her Business Analyst co-op term, Kiran participated in systems orientation, business analyst training sessions and even had breakfast with the president of the company!
She and her fellow co-op students were also asked to create self-directed development plans for their time with TJX. “It helped us to get a clearer picture in our minds of what we wanted to learn and achieve during our work terms,” Kiran says. “The development plan was then reviewed by the manager, who assigned tasks and projects to each of us accordingly.”
Most importantly, she adds, “Co-op students at TJX are not just students. They are treated as a part of the company and that’s the best thing about working at TJX.”
As a Business Analyst, Kiran had the opportunity to work on major projects alongside a Senior Business Analyst in the Store Systems department, where she would attend project meetings, gather requirements and create project documents while interacting with a number of different teams across the company in Canada and the U.S., including Store Operations, Global Production Support (GPS) and Enterprise Quality Assurance (EQA).
“My favourite part of working as a Business Analyst was facilitating communication between the business users and IT,” she says. “Every day I was able to learn about new aspects of business.”
She also gained some hands-on technical experience by assisting a Senior Systems Analyst with ongoing work in the Store Systems Lab.
Every step of the way, she was told repeatedly by her colleagues that there’s no such thing as a silly question: “I learned that it is important to ask questions to fully understand the concepts and processes,” she says.
Work hard, play hard
Working at TJX isn’t all work and no play, though, Kiran says: “I really enjoyed being part of different events such as birthday cakes, sample sales and other systems events.”
At the end of their work term, co-op students in her department were also asked to work together to create a fun video clip and prepare a presentation that outlined their goals, achievements and experience with TJX Canada to their managers and Assistant Vice-President. “I had a great time creating the co-op video and presentation with the other students!”
Co-op student success story: The next step
Kiran did such great work in during her co-op work terms that TJX hired her into a contract position right after her term ended. “They gave me the opportunity to develop my skills further and continue with the role,” she says, adding that she plans to continue pursuing this career path, which merges the field of retail business with technology.
Her advice for students who are still trying to find their own path? “Do what you love. Pick a career path that you are passionate about,” she says. “Develop your skill set to be successful in the path you have chosen and your job will never feel like work.”
A world of opportunity: learn more about student placements and graduate career opportunities in retail with TJX Canada/Winners Merchants International.
Visit TalentEgg’s Retail Career Guide for eggs-clusive student and entry level retail jobs, plus useful articles and videos that will help you hatch your career in the retail industry.