From my own experiences, I can tell you that as a young student it is not so easy to get your dream job. Also, it is no secret that having previous working experiences while applying for a job is a huge advantage. The problem with that? How should a person have previous work experiences when there is no first chance?
I had the luck that my first my first boss gave me a chance and opportunity to start a summer job in retail even without previous experiences. Thanks to him I could already gain some practical skills in young ages.
Now a few years later I worked in a part-time job in retail again besides my studies. Even though this is not my dream job, I really enjoyed it, and there are valuable lessons from working in retail.
Here are my personal and most important lessons I have learned so far:
20 hours per week? Sounds easy, because I mean that would be just 2 1/2 days working during a week. Well little did I know that I would get completely desperate about struggling with my timetable.
Studying fulltime, working in retail, on your website and student representative projects, while still trying to see your family and friends wasn’t exactly as easy as I made up in my mind.
I managed all my timetables on my calendar on my MacBook. For every different schedule in a different colour. In the end, there wasn’t any space in between anymore, and my timetable looked a rainbow. There are a lot of people who use the traditional handwriting calendar, but for me, my calendar on my MacBook is my life because it’s automatically synchronised with my phone and other Apple devices.
Through to the job I had to learn to plan my timetable very carefully, and I also learned to work faster for achieving more during a particular time.
But the most important thing is that you can not do everything, and moreover, me-time is very important! Get a work-life balance!
Personal skills / Communication
You will get more confident and will improve your communication skills while working with customers. Thanks to them you can realise that everyone is different and everyone has a different taste. Also, you will learn to be patient because not every customer will be nice but through to various situations like that you can also develop your empathy skills.
Treat everyone with respect
Everyone has a bad day sometimes, but in retail, you still have to be kind and treat people with respect. Trust me, if you welcome a customer with kindness and friendliness, they will be friendly to you as well. Treat everyone the way you would want to be treated. And even though the customers are not friendly to you?
Then ‘kill’em with kindness!’
I think everyone can see that I love Paris and French fashion. Because of that, I worked both times for a French fashion brand in retail. In most cases, you get a reduction on clothes while working for a brand. This personal benefit was my biggest enemy! I got on everything 50% and the fact that you receive and open new packages with new clothes every week didn’t make the situation better. During the first months, I spent almost my whole salary on the clothes. Even though you get 50% off on an item but if the dress still costs about 150€ then, there is not so much left at the end of the month.
Working so much and don’t see your salary, in the end, is so frustrating. It took me a few months, but in the end, I luckily realised that I don’t need half of the new collection!!!
Luckily I could adapt that aspect to my whole shopping behaviour, and now I am thinking about it twice if I really do need that item when I’m going shopping.
In university, I also attend the course Luxury Brand Management by choice. Through to that course, I learned that CRM (customer-relationship mgmt.) is one of the most important aspects of retail.
One of my biggest joys is seeing my customers I’ve made a relationship with. Sometimes I may not know their name and their life story, but I almost always remember what they bought and the story behind the outfit or item. Since the both brands I’ve worked for belong to pret-a-porter fashion, there weren’t too many customers that you couldn’t remember them.
Another relationship you build is the one with your colleagues. Thanks to my job I found perfect friends and now we are still close even after I quitted my job. All those relationships are my favourite part of the job.
Fortunately, I have been able to channel these lessons to my personal life as well successfully.
How about you? What are the lessons you have learned from your job?