When I was in elementary school, my mom got a job in a large retail store in the mall. To be honest, I was partially embarrassed mom worked selling menswear for a living. Another part of me was relieved as it was mom’s first job in almost 2 years. Within a short period of time, my sister and I became the mascots of the menswear department and we thought mom’s job was super cool. When I was a junior in high school, mom got me a job at the same store, in the housewares department. It was my first job and I was so nervous as well as super excited. I mean, I was making my own money and everything! Little did I know I would take away something valuable from that job. Here are a few of the life lessons you can learn working in retail:
- Dealing With People: I had never dealt with anyone outside of my family or school, so this was big for me. I had to learn to communicate with strangers, swallow my pride, be nice when I didn’t feel like it and do things I didn’t want to do.
- It Builds Character: I also learned who I was through all of that and I found I was able to be kind, generous, patient and helpful. I found nothing was beneath me and I was never “too good” to do anything. I found out how important listening to others was, which has been one of my best lessons.
- It Builds A Work Ethic: I learned how to be punctual, professional, dress appropriately and how to be a team player. If you are unable to be any of these, you may fund yourself out of a job! That was not something I wanted to happen, so I became a great worker quite fast. I found I could go above and beyond and how great it felt to help others. I also found my bosses noticed that and I was recognized for my hard work.
- It Teaches You About Authority: When you work in retail, you have two bosses: your supervisor and the customer! I learned how to be respectful to others, even when they were not respectful to me. I learned to say “Yes Sir and Yes Ma’am”, and that I was not the only person on the team. This was hard for me as a teenager when you feel the world revolves around you!
When I saw episode 16 on Jennifer Miller in the “1 in one hundred million” Web Series, I felt such a connection to her. Jennifer is a Retail Sales Associate with MJ Christensen Diamonds in Chicago. It is no surprise Jennifer loves what she does because much of her job is built on relationships. With Jennifer’s position, she sells jewelry that retails anywhere from $39 to $750,000, and she treats each sale as if it were worth the latter! Jennifer has worked with a variety of people, feeling it is important to have a “good pair of ears” and really listen to a client. One story I thought was super sweet was about the couple in their 70s who came into the store. The woman had overcome her fear of getting her ears pierced and her husband had bought her a pair of diamond earrings. To celebrate the occasion, Jennifer got them champagne!
Last year, Jennifer had the chance to work as a volunteer in Uganda with the BeadforLife program. BeadforLife sells handmade, recycled jewelry in both the US and N. America. The mission of this program is to raise awareness about the the extreme poverty and create job opportunities for women and get their families out of their extreme poverty. For some, they were the poorest of the poor, living on less than $0.60 a day. For these people, BeadforLife created a 6 month entrepreneurial training programs, teaching the women to create the jewelry and sell it. What Jennifer took away from her experience was that she could take her skills used in jewelry to serve a bigger purpose.
The “1 in one hundred million” Web Series is produced by Kronos, the leader in workforce management solutions. Kronos helps their clients manage their time and attendance records, employee schedules, absence records, HR and payroll, hiring, and labor analytics solutions. They created the “1 in one hundred million” Web Series to celebrate the American worker. You know, people just like you and me! You can see videos of people who do the many important and too-often unrecognized jobs that we all rely. I love that Kronos shines a much deserving spotlight on these special individuals who reflect the character, the commitment, and the passion of today’s workforce.
Liz Mays says
I did sales, customer service and management in retail. I definitely learned a TON by doing that.
Myrah Duque says
Those part time jobs I took during my college days really paid off. They gave me a whole look at life at an early age. I’m glad was able to work, it taught me responsibility and so many great habits.
Angela Bethea says
I’ve worked in retail myself and definitely learned a lot too. It can get challenging at times but grateful for the life lessons.
There’s a lot you can learn from a job where you have to deal with people constantly! You can’t help but become a student of human nature!
Amy Desrosiers says
I worked retail for many years and it was sorta fun. I didn’t mind the hustle and bustle and all those beautiful fashion musts, but the hours killed it sadly.
Autumn @mamachallenge.com says
Customer service is so lost most the time, but I’m so glad that someone is speaking out about being a good rep for a company. People just don’t seem to care anymore so this is a good sign that maybe it can be revived.
i needed all of these when i worked in retail. some days i would really enjoy it and then others were really tough. these are great.
I never worked retail, but I did work in a restaruant. There are similar lessons gleaned from that experience.
Cyndi Wright says
I love this. My first job was in retail and I stuck to the industry for many years. I can honestly say it helped mold and shape me to be who I am today.
Cyndi Wright says
I love this! My first job was working retail, and I stuck with the industry for years. It will always hold a spot near and dear to my heart.
Cathi Crismon says
I love everything you said about Jennifer! She obviously loves her job and cares about her people. My mom was in retail and she was one of the wisest women I know!!
I’ve never worked in retail before, so I wouldn’t know much about this. I’ve done similar things where I’ve had to talk with customers. It’s a great experience learning to deal with others though.
Adelina Priddis says
I worked in retail once and really loved it. It wasn’t a long position, though, when I became pregnant and the company downsized. Learning to work with others is key! My sister has done a lot of retail and I’m told hates it, so I’ll send this on to her 😉
Elizabeth Lampman says
I wish everyone could work in retail at least once in their lives. People who have never done it do not realize how hard it can be.
Ann Bacciaglia says
My Daughter works in retail and she loves it. You really need to be able to listen to the customer and treat everyone the same. I will have to share this with her.
Jenna M Wood says
I worked retail (3 different retail jobs at once) for 5 years then went into food service management- I really had to work on ALL of these skills through the years. It was exhausting but knowing I could impact someone’s day during a sale with just a smile or compliment really made it worth it.
Nancy @ whispered inspirations says
Great tips! Never worked in retail before but these tips would definitely help those that are getting into it!
Tammilee Tips says
I remember my first job in retail I learned quite a bit from it. It’s a great way to get started with jobs in high school and in college.
William Sweeney says
So many life lessons can be learned by working in retail like this. I think its a great way for people to learn to interact when they are in school with adults especially.
Oh my goodness, I loved working in retail. I actually met so many great people and coworkers that I am still friends with today. These all make super-sense and are right-on. Thanks for sharing.
These are all good tips! I worked in the travel business for a while and BOY do you learn a lot in that industry!
Robin (Masshole Mommy) says
My very first job was in retail, so I learned real quick how to deal with people 🙂