She lists her previous work experience as a shop assistant in Waitrose. But now, thanks to a new degree programme between Sheffield Hallam University and the manufacturers of KitKat and Milky Bars, Lucy Squires is taking the first steps to a career in confectionary.
Lucy, aged 18, is one of 12 students selected from hundreds of applicants for food giant Nestlé’s innovative Fast Track programme, run in collaboration with the university. The teenager is studying for a BA (Hons) in professional business practice in a new programme which sees her work full-time at Nestlé’s giant office near Gatwick Airport whilst commuting to Sheffield for intensive block-study sessions at Sheffield Business School within the university.
Lucy, who has friends and family in Sheffield, describes the opportunity as “once in a lifetime”. She said: “Getting one of the 12 places was amazing. I was looking at the national picture of students struggling to find a job when they graduate and decided I wanted to do a sponsored degree programme instead.
“Now I have a £17,000 job as a Nestlé demand planner, working alongside some great people, and I get the university experience too.
“It is so important in today’s climate to have practical work experience. It was a leap into the unknown because I was leaving home and going into a major multinational company. And it won’t be easy – I’ll be studying in the evening and the teaching blocks are intensive – but the rewards will be amazing.”
Lucy’s story reflects the different choices youngsters, and mature students, are making about their education. The introduction of increased tuition fees and a highly competitive jobs market mean students face tougher decisions than any generation that has gone before them.