Home » Career Transformation » How to seize success by saying ‘yes’ to a career-changing opportunity

Ursula Feeney

Healthcare Academy Trainer, Boots

Trish Sutton

Assistant Store Manager, Boots

Keep an open mind when you’re presented with unexpected career opportunities, urge two women from a health and beauty retailer. You never know where your choices will take you.

Seizing a work opportunity — even a seemingly small one — can completely transform the direction of your career, says Ursula Feeney, Healthcare Academy Trainer at health and beauty retailer, Boots.

Transforming a career from a simple ‘yes’

Feeney should know because, although she’s now a fully qualified pharmacist, her original plan was to be a music teacher. “I was studying a music and history degree and found a part-time job in Boots as a Customer Assistant,” she says. “I loved it, but never thought about a career in healthcare.”

The turning point arrived when the store manager proposed she work at the healthcare counter. Feeney said ‘yes’ and was enrolled on the company’s internal Healthcare Advisor Programme and, later, Dispenser Programme, which ignited her passion for pharmacy work.

My apprenticeship — and the degree which I’ll have in 2025 — will stand me in good stead for the rest of my life.

“Although I’d only recently graduated from my music and history degree, I decided to switch career paths, go back to university and study a full-time, five-year master of pharmacy degree,” she says. “I was supported by the company, and they let me reduce my hours to accommodate my studies. It was life-changing.”

Feeney’s current position as Healthcare Academy Trainer involves supervising colleagues on the internal training programmes that she once completed. “I really enjoy the role,” she says. “And, genuinely, I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for that first part-time job. I certainly wouldn’t have become a pharmacist any other way.”

Educational opportunities lead to career development

Trish Sutton, Assistant Store Manager at Boots in Newbridge, County Kildare, had a similar career-changing experience. She started with the company in 2019 as a Customer Advisor while she was on a gap year. “I planned to go back to college but realised that I really liked the job,” she says. “In 2021, the store manager asked if I would be interested in enrolling on a two-year Level 6 Retail Apprenticeship. I said ‘yes’ — and graduated in June of last year.”

As Assistant Manager, it’s Sutton’s job to ensure her store runs efficiently and effectively. She’s also studying a Level 7 Retail Management Practice degree part-time, sponsored by the company. “I wouldn’t be in management at all without that first job,” she says. “I wouldn’t have my retail qualifications, either. My apprenticeship — and the degree which I’ll have in 2025 — will stand me in good stead for the rest of my life, wherever my career takes me.”

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