Two local optometrists from Specsavers in Chelmsford, Elin Jones, aged 25 and Sam Gode, aged 29, who started working at the store for work experience have become directors of the opticians this month.

Sam, who grew up in Ongar, started working at the Chelmsford opticians as part of a two-week work experience programme with her school. On her second day she was offered a weekend job, which she continued throughout her GCSE’s and A-Levels.

She studied biomedical sciences for four years at the University of Brighton, where she worked in her local Specsavers store on weekends and then for a year after her graduation in 2010.

‘So many avenues you can take’

Sam, who is planning on doing a Masters in clinical optometry, said: ‘After university I decided to retrain as an optometrist. I found it really interesting and, over the years, I’ve learnt a lot working in various departments.

'There are so many avenues you can take, whether it’s the research route, where my background lies, the medical or clinical direction or, of course, the business pathway, which I’ve decided to take. It means I can satisfy my need to learn and research, while building my business acumen at the same time.’

Elin, of South Woodham Ferrers, began working at Specsavers in Chelmsford on a Saturday nine years ago at the age of 16 while at school doing her GCSE’s and A-Levels. She studied optometry at Anglia Ruskin University for three years before graduating in 2013 and doing her pre-registration year back at Specsavers Chelmsford. She decided to become a director to expand her skill set and trained alongside Sam doing the International Leadership and Management Level 3 award.

‘I really like working with people’

Elin, who is also the pre-reg supervisor at the opticians, said: ‘I really like working with people and becoming a director gives me the opportunity to do that in more than one capacity, wearing a different hat. I also love the teaching and coaching side of things - I work as a supervisor at the university clinics, helping to train upcoming optometrists.’

After 18 months of training, Sam and Elin have officially become directors of the store. They plan on expanding the business and creating a structure to train a pre-reg optometrist each year for the next five years, producing a strong group of ‘home-grown’ resident optometrists who can get to know their customers from the outset.

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