Trainees who are psychologically prepared to go through an intense two-year programme can reap rewards Having an interest in retailing is not enough to become an expert in the field. Those who are ready to dedicate their time and effort in order to become professionals should consider applying to join the 24-month management training programme offered by Giordano. In order to train professionals who can help achieve its aims and goals Giordano's trainee programme is open to people from different backgrounds - university graduates, staff who are interested in advancing their careers and, in fact, anyone who fits the requirements for the position are welcome to apply. Applicants will have to go through a written test during the initial stage where they will be required to complete essays in Chinese and English intended to reveal the levels of their analytical and verbal skills. A competitive group interview will then be held for selected candidates where they are required to meet with eight interviewers - usually the director, senior executives and individuals who have graduated from or are undergoing the training process - within an hour. A panel interview will then be held where the chosen candidates meet with group human resources director Ngan Lei-tjen and frontline staff where their people skills are tested. Other than basic retailing knowledge, the programme teaches trainees how to provide a comfortable environment for customers to shop through the use of music, lighting and interior arrangements and how to provide a high quality of service. To excel in the programme, individuals must have good interpersonal skills, a genuine interest in retail and a general persistency in order to overcome a variety of hurdles during the interview and the on-the-job training process. '[One of the most important things] is to be psychologically prepared to work extremely hard in order to cope with the tough training,' Ms Ngan said. 'People from our management team are mainly aged between 30 and 50 years old.' The hard work does pay off. Trainees who complete the two-year programme can choose from three prospective career paths. Most of the trainees select frontline positions and stay in the shops. These people then have the chance to eventually go on to become sales directors or even general managers. Others who choose to work in business development, which includes franchise development and shop projects, can become specialists in the field. The third path involves product development, where individuals focus on scouting out new clothing designs and materials for the company to offer customers. 'In order to excel in either one of these paths, trainees would have to stand out,' Ms Ngan said. 'They should also plan ahead for their future advancement.' Joining Giordano after a brief stint as an engineer four years ago, Chris Lau has progressed to become a shop manager. 'I have learned that it is important to have good time management for the job,' said Mr Lau, a trainee graduate. 'You should also ask yourself if you really want to work in retail before applying for the programme. You put more time and effort into it when you love your job.' Dicky Wu, an assistant shop manager at Giordano and another trainee graduate, claimed his experience helped him a lot to understand the needs of new staff, what they thought about and the day-to-day problems that they might face at work. '[For the interested parties] before graduating, try out jobs that you're interested in to spice up your resume,' said Mr Wu, who worked as a part-time employee for the company in 2000. 'When working here, an important thing is not to compare your gives and takes. Don't concentrate on the fruits [of the job] but rather enjoy the process of working.'