How I Kickstarted My Career in Buying at Zalando

Today, we’re focusing on the topic of successfully kickstarting a career in fashion and securing a job in this highly competitive field. We’ve sat down with Jennifer Timm from Zalando to learn more about her remarkable and inspiring 3-year journey from being a working student to becoming an Assistant Buyer. Jennifer shares her most valuable lessons learned, what makes her team unique and offers advice for young applicants who want to step into the fashion business sector.

Was your educational background helpful to kickstart your career?

Since I always knew I wanted to pursue a career in fashion, I studied Fashion and Design Management at AMD Akademie Mode & Design in Berlin. This experience was really helpful for my career, firstly because it gave me a strong understanding of how the industry operates, and secondly because during this time I was able to gain work experience in both retail and buying. In addition, my school had an extensive network within the industry so I had the opportunity to regularly attend trade fairs and enter the fashion world while still studying.

And what was your journey to Zalando?

During my studies at AMD Akademie Mode & Design in Berlin, I also worked in retail for Peek & Cloppenburg and Marc O’Polo as a Sales Assistant. Afterwards, I completed an internship at the online shop, Fashion ID, where I first got in touch with buying. That experience made me realize that I want to have a career in Buying, so I decided to apply to Zalando.

And since joining Zalando how has your career progressed?

I started at Zalando as a working student in the Men’s Textiles unit in October 2016. Five months later, upon graduating from university I was offered a full-time role as a Buying Assistant. In this role I worked closely with my Buyer to support on daily buying tasks, strategy meetings, attending order appointments and overall stepping in when my Buyer was unavailable. In April 2019, I took on the role as Category Operations Coordinator in the Men’s Textile & Underwear/Beachwear category to help implement new processes and structures across various functions. Having helped through a 5 month transition phase, I am about to start a new chapter at Zalando as an Assistant Buyer in the Women’s Textiles Fast Fashion team.I am really excited to see how my new role at Zalando will help me to shape my career!

Which challenge are you most proud of overcoming?

Last year, one of the Assistant Buyers from our team left for her maternity leave and I took on some of the tasks to cover in her absence. During this period, I was given the responsibility to manage the Assistant Buyer duties for my unit and cluster in addition to managing my day-to-day job. This was a great challenge to help me learn how to successfully prioritize my assignments while also handling daily and weekly ad hoc requests. Not only did I have the chance to further develop my organizational skills, but I also got the chance to work on several stretch projects. Overall, this experience helped me greatly to gain professional confidence and confirmed that buying is the right path for me.

Which project or achievement has been the most influential in your career so far?

The most influential projects that helped me grow at Zalando have been when I was able to make autonomous decisions in consultation with my Planner and act as a representative for my Buyer. This really allowed me to learn the art of buying. In addition, the exposure of meeting big brands and working on planning for new seasons is an achievement I value very highly. Even during my time as a Buying Assistant, I was involved in the decision-making process and given the ownership for managing brands, making plans for the next season and acting independently.

How I Kickstarted My Career in Buying at Zalando

‘’Every day here is different, offering you new challenges and opportunity to develop.’’

What do you love about your job? What makes you excited about coming to work every day?

I really like the fact that you can still feel the startup vibe at Zalando! Every day here is different, offering you new challenges and opportunities to develop. The projects we’re working on enable you to make decisions that do not just challenge yourself, but also encourage growth for the entire business. And this is the part that I value the most, as well as working with colleagues who are always there to support, challenge and laugh alongside with you.

And what's next? What are your ambitions for the next year?

The next step in my Zalando career will be starting my new position as an Assistant Buyer in the Women Textile Fast Fashion unit. And I have set high ambitions for myself: To get to know the category and brands, fulfill the expectations of my team and offer the best support to my Buyer. I am hoping to be involved in as many projects as possible so I can get exposure to new projects and responsibilities within my team. I am excited to step into this role to develop and gain new experiences in buying, as well as to learn how to keep up with the pace of fast fashion brands.

What makes your team special?

Zalando is an exceptionally international company and I love that I have the chance to learn from colleagues who bring experience from a wide spectrum of brands, companies and markets. Our strong team spirit is also very special and I constantly observe a powerful sense of collaboration and support within my team. But we also make sure to celebrate our successes together with fun team events and after-work drinks!

What has been the best professional advice that you've received?

Firstly, one of the most important pieces of advice I have ever received is to always believe in yourself and trust in your abilities. And to not be afraid of making mistakes because this is the only way to learn and develop.

Do you have tips or recommendations for young applicants who want to join Zalando?

Stay determined to your goal but remain open to different opportunities - there is always growth opportunity in every challenge!

If you are interested in kickstarting your career in Fashion, solving exciting challenges to create impact and being part of a great team just like Jennifer, then explore job opportunities at Zalando:

If you would like to be part of Zalando’s Fashion Talent Community to get regular updates about company culture, projects we’re working on and new job openings, then join here:


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