Ask anyone in the office and they will tell you that Summer Congregation is definitely my favourite time of year! Well they might say Christmas Festival and Summer Congregation but you get my gist. As Retail Supervisor I am responsible for the planning and co-ordination and the smooth running of the event.
I just love the rush of the week long event, meeting all the graduates and their lovely proud families. You get to meet so many people, from so many different cultures. It’s not only that though – a lot goes into the preparation of the event during the months prior and I enjoy that just as much as the week on the shop floor.
Now you may wonder what sort of things need to be planned this far in advanced, but believe me when I say that there’s so much to think about.
First comes all the operational matters… arranging transport to collect the stock and shop units, hiring tills and PDQ card machines, ordering floats and arranging cash collections… the list goes on. Then comes the fun part: we get to hire a bunch of Durham University students as sales assistants for the week! I love every stage of this; from shortlisting applicants, to interviewing and then delivering training sessions. We hold a 4 hour training session a few days before graduation to run through everything the sales assistants will need to know, this ranges from getting to know each other, getting to know the products, learning to use the till and learning how to provide the exceptional customer service that the Retail Office prides ourselves on.
Writing the rota is a mammoth task in itself, we have 10 members of staff working each day on varying shifts ranging from 7 in the morning till 8 at night across 4 days. It’s a job that requires a high level of accuracy and concentration to ensure all the shifts are covered.
Overall I think it’s the buzz of congregation that makes me enjoy it so much. From May until July it’s something that we all look forward to. This year I’m sure I will be reminiscing about my own graduation which feels like a life time ago (2 years to be precise!!). My graduation was an amazing day and I felt so proud to not only have a degree from Durham but to have also graduated from Durham Cathedral – an UNESCO World Heritage Site. I hope that I can be just a small part in someone’s special day, ensuring that they enjoy it as much as I did mine.