“It started with stacking shelves, not a Masters degree for the sake of taking one”: Adam’s Answer.


Adam Tosek, Local Editor (Partnership Services Chronicle), John Lewis Partnership

“Leaving University is a daunting prospect. Let me say that again in case you think it’s just you thinking that, or if you think I’m paying lip service to the idea of this blog. Leaving University IS a daunting prospect.

Whether you like it or not, your uni days are coming to an end. Those late nights of partying, days spent drinking, those hungover lectures, snow-ball fights in the winter or playing frisbee in the summer. Some of those memories may be fresher for you than me, but believe me I was in your position once, and either way you spin it, they will soon be just memories for the both of us.

So just how scary IS the ‘real world’? Well, honestly? Not that scary.

When I left university, I genuinely had no idea what I wanted to do. I studied History at the University of Leicester. I only took History because I didn’t know what else to do. Sound familiar? Ok, good. Well, unfortunately I can’t give you the answer in a 500-word blog post.

But what I can say is that leaving uni doesn’t have to be as scary as you think it might be. You’re still free to live life however you choose. If you want to travel for a couple of years, travel for a couple of years. If you want to move home with your mum to save money, do it. If you want to move to London and rent a flat with your mates, and carry on living the uni dream, do that as well.

After completing my degree, I actually went back to work for Waitrose. Good old Waitrose. I worked there before University, stacking shelves. And then, after uni, I went back there, and stacked some more shelves. A step back? I don’t think so. Just because you have come out of uni that doesn’t mean you have to go into a 30 grand job and live in Kensington. It’s just not likely. Don’t get me wrong, it’s possible. I have friends who have done exactly that. But for the most part, don’t feel like a failure if you aren’t able to do that.

While I was stacking shelves at Waitrose, I kept a lookout for potential jobs within the John Lewis Partnership. Don’t get me wrong, I was applying for all sorts outside of the business, but I thought, if I’m in the company, it’s a foot in the door. After about a year I moved to Waitrose Head Office to work in a Personnel administration role. Hardly ground-breaking, admittedly. But suddenly I was in a full-time permanent job in the head office of a reputable company. While working there I had access to new people and jobs, including the one I have now.

Working in Internal Communications allows me to harness skills that I built at uni, but I have also picked up new skills such as event organisation, communications planning and magazine design. Voila – I’ve found myself on a career path that I genuinely love, and I’m even based in London. And what do you know? It started with stacking shelves, not a Masters degree for the sake of taking one.

Sometimes taking a step sideways is needed to move up. Sometimes, it’s a step backwards, apparently. It’s a business cliché, but I’m living proof that if you just try out new things, they will open up new doors you may not have even known existed.

If you don’t know what you want to do, just try something different. You never know, you just might like it.”

The John Lewis Partnership’s 91,500 Partners own the leading UK retail businesses – John Lewis and Waitrose. Our founder’s vision of a successful business powered by its people and its principles defines our unique company today. You can find out more about jobs and opportunities within John Lewis at http://jlpjobs.com/.



This article has been provided by an external organisation, as such the views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Careers, Placement and Experience Centre.