Managing Expectations: A Manager Shares Advice & Insights With Students & Grads


It can be difficult for students and grads to settle into a new work environment. From adjusting to a new role, to meeting organization standards, to developing professional relationships, it can sometimes feel overwhelming.

Most employers are very understanding about the initial learning curve new hires experience, and are more than willing to provide support to those who ask for it. TJX Canada is especially focused on developing fresh talent through their internship and co-op programs. Their expertise and passion in this area make their company a great place for students and grads to start their careers.

Jennifer Patel is a Planning Manager in TJX Canada’s Planning and Allocation department. Over the past 7 years, she’s managed many young professionals on her team. She believes that working with students and new grads is a huge part of what makes her team and her organization a great place to work.

Joining the team

Jennifer Patel
Planning Manager
TJX Canada

Jennifer and her team are responsible for determining what merchandise gets shipped to their stores. Each week, they create and execute a brand new strategy based on how their merchandise performed the previous week. Jennifer says it’s an exciting place to work because no two days are alike. This is one of the reasons students and grads are a great fit for her team.

“They’re new and ambitious with a high amount of drive,” says Jennifer. “It’s that enthusiasm that adds energy to the entire work environment. And for those of us who have been here a few years, it helps us get excited about the work and the business we’re in every day.”

To help students and grads adjust to their new roles, TJX Canada offers a fantastic training program. Jennifer says it really helps ease the transition for individuals who are starting their first career job.

“Our training program for entry-level roles has elements of a classroom environment mixed with different projects,” she says. “It’s a nice soft place to land when you’re first starting out because it is very similar to school.”

Manager expectations: What Jennifer expects from new hires

  • Think big. Don’t limit your ideas to what the organization has done in the past. When solving a problem, don’t be afraid to think outside the box and suggest new solutions. That’s how the company moves forward!
  • Be open minded. The TJX team is constantly sharing ideas with one another, so it’s important to listen to everyone’s opinion. Don’t assume you have the solution – the best decisions are always made when everyone’s input is considered.
  • Treat everyone with respect. Everyone on the TJX team is expected to treat their co-workers with kindness, caring, and sensitivity at all times, without exception. When collaborating with others, always treat them the way you expect to be treated.

While TJX Canada is dedicated to making sure that their new hires have all the support they need, they make it clear that they have high expectations for all of them. While they may be working in entry-level roles, their positions still have a high impact on the success of the company. Jennifer says that co-op students and new grad suggestions have influenced many of the processes in the company, from HR to marketing and more.

“You’re expected to conduct yourself like an entrepreneur,” explains Jennifer. “You have your responsibilities. But you’re empowered to do as much as you want to do.”

Making mistakes on the job

It’s natural to be cautious when you start a new job. There are people around you who are depending on you to consistently deliver high quality work. However, Jennifer says one of the best parts about the company culture at TJX Canada is that they embrace mistakes. They encourage the students and grads on their team to take risks and try new things.

“If we’re not making mistakes, that means we’re being safe,” explains Jennifer. “We need to be pushing and stretching ourselves beyond our comfort zone. And those aren’t just expectations for new hires – they apply to everyone, regardless of how long you’ve been with the company.”

Jennifer says that when trying new things, new grads are usually partnered with others so they can collaborate and collectively discover the best course of action. Of course, it’s not just about making mistakes, it’s about learning from those experiences. It’s a great opportunity for young professionals to test the waters and explore a new environment.

“There shouldn’t be any fear about making a mistake,” says Jennifer. “You’ve got support all around you, and no one will hold any mistakes against you.”

A final piece of advice

There is no wrong way to approach a new career – everyone has their own method of learning the ropes and meeting new team members. However, Jennifer says that from her experiences, there are a few key things that all new hires will benefit from during their time on the job.

Ask questions. Don’t hold back! Asking questions is not only beneficial for you – it can help your co-workers as well. “Regardless of how silly it may sound, don’t assume you’ll just pick the information up later,” says Jennifer. “If there’s something that’s not 100% crystal clear, ask in that moment.”

Share ideas. For Jennifer, one of the most valuable parts about working with students and grads is their fresh perspective on the business. “We want to hear those thoughts, opinions, and ideas on your business,” she says. “We want to know how we can improve.”

Help others. TJX Canada is a highly team-oriented environment – it’s important not only think about how you can improve, but how you can help your teammates improve as well. “If you’re starting to pick up a new skill or concept, make sure you extend a hand to others,” says Jennifer.

In the end, this career experience is all about what you make of it. While TJX Canada offers students and grads the tools to succeed, Jennifer stresses that it’s up to the individual to decide where they want to take this opportunity.

“It’s all about empowerment and ownership,” says Jennifer. “As I said before, you’re expected to conduct yourself like an entrepreneur. There’s no limit to how you can positively impact this organization!”

Ready to begin your career with TJX Canada? Apply to their amazing opportunities here!