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Work Experience at John Packer Ltd.


What's a week at John Packer like when you're on work experience? Alice Coton from Cheddar - who spent a week with us in July - shares her diary on our Blog...


Day 1
When I eventually found my way to the shop, I was given a tour of the shop and introduced to everyone. I was then taken back around the shop, this time with a health and safety talk. I now know not to jump off the balcony. Back to the office and I was presented with a work experience quiz to do over the week, which I nearly finished within an hour. However, while answering this quiz I got to explore the JP websites and found out a lot about their stock and different instruments. I was also shown how to use the till and sage database to help with a few of the questions. Alice made me use the scary photocopier, but then let me shred something, which is always fun. 
After a trip to the very anti-vegetarian shop down the road, I was put in charge of checking reed prices matched up to the website and the till.
I also accidentally did some window shopping for French horns and saxophones, and fell in love with things I neither need or can afford.


Day 2
Day 2 at Packers and I started the morning doing marketing with Jean. She was making advertising for the new valve oil offer so she showed me how to use Photoshop (not something I expected to be doing at a musical instrument shop) and how to update the website. We then had to check everything was working fine, which it was. I must’ve been annoying because she sent me downstairs…
My next task of the day was to re-label the gift shelves because apparently the price tags kept falling off and no one knew where they’d come from. I got to play with the laminator and do some cutting up.
I decided it was probably best to bring my own lunch today so I sat on the balcony and enjoyed the sunshine.
Things got fun in the afternoon; I got involved in recording national anthems for the world cup to go on Facebook. After rummaging through the depths of the internet for sheet music I joined Tom and Matt to record the British national anthem. The best part is I got to choose a horn on which to play it, so after about 0.2 seconds of thought I got the beautiful Alexander off the shelf.

Day 3
I started this morning with Odette in the very small back room doing mail orders and hires. She showed me all the websites that sell JP stock and talked me through how they all work and what they all sell etc. She then showed me how to take payments online and make sure people are being charged the right amount and let me have a go at doing some myself. She also showed me how to sort orders and set me loose around the shop to find stock. Once we had found the necessary items we went back to the computer to take them off the stock list and book them for deliveries. We also had to add some stock to sage that had just been delivered so Odette talked me through how that worked.
I spent the rest of the morning and the afternoon on brass retail with Tom handling things I know lots about: horns! I had to start with the boring job of cleaning mouthpieces that had just been used by a child but then I got to check over a horn for display which involved oiling the valves and greasing the slides. I love getting my hands dirty with horns. Things got even more fun after that. The Maelstrom horn mouthpieces needed testing so I got the pleasure of playing around with them. It was really interesting seeing how the different size shanks and cups can affect playing, and how the different combinations change as well. The range of materials all affected tone so it was really nice to be able to find the perfect combination for me. Once I’d finished I cleaned them up and had some lunch.
After lunch I had another horn to set up for display and then I had to change some of the price tags that were a bit outdated. Again I joined Tom and Matt to record the Croatian national anthem for the football after copious amounts of searching through the internet for sheet music. This time however I was on my own horn.

Day 4
So today I was in the warehouse down the road – something very different for me, I’ve never been in a warehouse before. Obviously I was given the typical health and safety tour to start off and then I was taken upstairs to the office. Matt talked me through everything he did involving dealer accounts – building relationships, getting them to order and so on. I was then passed over to Anne-Marie who explained her job to me. She checks money from the previous day and adds everything up. The food van then turned up and my weak-will led me to buy a very nice slice of pizza for my lunch.
After a short break I was sent downstairs to Rob, who showed me around the warehouse and explained a bit about deliveries and the like. There was a large delivery going out to Russia, and all the boxes needed their measurements and weights written down. Luckily most of them were already on the boxes so I just had to copy them down but a few needed weighing and measuring. I did feel slightly bossy walking around with my clipboard shouting out which boxes Rob needed to get to be measured but it was fun. I also got to use one of those weird tape roller things which I got very excited about.
Once that was all done and the numbers were put into the computer, there were a few instruments that needed to be sent back to the factory so we boxed them up and then filled the box with (the ‘s’ shaped polystyrene things). This was quite possibly the highlight of my day. 
I was sent back upstairs for the rest of the day doing some filing. 

Day 5
So today is my last day here for work experience and so far it’s been good.
My morning was spent doing some retail administration with Roger! It really isn’t as fun as it sounds. What did make it fun though was getting to do some colour coding because who doesn't love colour? We started with some price monitoring, which involves comparing the Packers prices to other companies to see if prices are considerably higher or lower than anywhere else. It all comes in a big, scary list, and a nicer, simplified colour coded list which was obviously much easier to look at. We then did some in house stock monitoring; we started by changing a product from being in stock to work in progress so that people don’t buy something that is not actually sellable. We labelled it and took it up to the workshop. We also had to write-off some stock that is being used by the shop. I then helped Roger make the staff rota for next week, which is where the colour coding came in because the colours show who is in, who is not, and who is on holiday.
Most of my afternoon was spent being quizzed about the various things I have learnt over the week.

I have really enjoyed my work experience and I have learnt so many valuable skills. I have learnt a lot about how businesses work, not just specific to this one. I never realised quite how big the JP market is so it’s very interesting to discover that a small business in Somerset sells all over the world. I would definitely recommend it as a work experience placement because everyone who works here is very friendly and you don’t just do the same thing for the whole week; they show you most areas of the business and at times let you get involved (if they trust you enough).

Thank you for letting me spend the week here, it’s been a great experience. 

Andy Still our Retail Manager manages Work Experience placements. Spaces are limited. Contact Andy to find out more.

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