Buyer Apprentice Program – Is it worth it?

I can finally say this and it be real, I’m officially an Assistant Buyer! After six months of being an apprentice, and having three different managers, I can finally call the Jaclyn Smith department home. First off, for those who don’t know what a buyer is, it’s the person who buys the clothes that are sold in stores. So since I work for K-Mart, I am apart of the team who buys the the clothes that are sold in the Jaclyn Smith department. We have a buyer, who really dictates what we ultimately buy, an associate, who buys a small category (whether that be a specific brand in the department or a specific item like tshirts), and an assistant, who normally has a small category as well. In my specific company that also includes advertising/marketing.

How does it work? 

In the buyer apprentice program, you are placed in a department for six months where you are kinda eased into an assistant position, rather than just thrown into it. You also have two projects due by the end of the program, one with a partner and one with the entire apprentice class. The project is picked by you and whoever you work with, which makes it easier to execute (or at least it should be), because it’s your idea. I know that there are tons of different programs like this out there, and they’re all going to be slightly different, but this has been my experience with this company.

Now would I recommend this program? 

This question I ponder only because at the end of the program you become an assistant buyer, so technically it’s not necessary. If you’re not sure about the company just yet or you’re wondering if this role is for you then yes, do the program, but it’s really unnecessary. For me, this program solidified buying is what I love to do, and I started this while I was in school so it was nice to not have the full pressure of assistant responsibilities (at least at the beginning).
For me, minus some drama, I thought the program was helpful. After all of the ups and downs of being an apprentice, my team changing, and all that jazz, I’m a better assistant buyer for it, so I don’t regret it at all! But for those who just feel like they can handle being thrown into the position, I would just apply for an assistant position. Oddly enough, the week I’m officially getting promotors my school, FIDM, reached out to me and wants me to speak about my experience at the school and how it’s helped me in my current position. Don’t have all the details yet, but it’s funny to think 4 years ago I was just starting college thinking I wanted to be a stylist! Oh how things have changed…and for the better.

I will put out this disclaimer, my opinion and experiences are completely different than what you may experience. You’re going to either hate it or love it, so if you decide to apply for an apprenticeship, whether that be in buying or any other field, just know every situation or experience will be different.


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