First steps on the career ladder

The University of Northampton

1st January 2018


The University of Northampton

A SELF-confessed shoeaholic is revelling in her dream role with one of the world's most iconic footwear brands.

Heather Jenkinson joined Airwair International, which makes Dr Martens footwear, straight after graduating from the University of Northampton's Footwear course in summer 2016.

A year and a half later, and Heather's still having to pinch herself that she's working at the firm's headquarters in Wollaston.

"My obsession with shoes started when I was much younger," said Heather. "I've always loved shoes and have a huge collection of them - my bedroom has been taken over by them. So when I found out about the Footwear course at Northampton, I thought, yep, that's what I want to do."

Heather works as an assistant footwear developer in the company's development department, which sits between the design team and the factory.

She said: "We receive the designs for footwear, carry out all the technical work for them, send them to the factory, which then sends them back to us as samples for testing.

"We need to make sure each design is market relevant and will be profitable. I also get to travel to our factories in Vietnam and Thailand four times a year, and also assist in researching and introducing new and innovative ideas for footwear that would enhance the brand.

"It's so hard to pick out my favourite aspect of the job. Just to be working for Dr Martens is the best thing. When you tell people, everyone knows who Dr Martens are - it's a worldwide brand."

As someone who has pursued her dream to work in the industry, and succeeded, Heather cannot recommend the University's Footwear course enough.

She said: "The course taught me everything I needed to know about footwear, from developing my creative design skills, through to the technical side of the industry.

"I was encouraged to be more independent with my learning, and explore new ways to be creative.

"The technicians were great in helping teach me how to turn my initial sketches into real-life products that were able to be worn on the catwalk for Graduate Fashion Week. I also took part in competitions set by external companies, which gave me valuable industry experience, and helped me to progress my skills."

The University of Northampton