Important Life Lessons I Learned From Working In Retail
Looking back to my student times, from my own experiences, I can tell you that it was not easy to get your dream job. Also, it is no secret that having previous working experience while applying for a job is a huge advantage. The problem with that? How should a person have prior work experience when there is no first chance? I was fortunate to be given a chance and opportunity to start a summer job in retail by my first boss, even without previous experience. Thanks to him, I gained some practical skills at a young age. A few years later, I also worked part-time in retail while studying. Although it was not my dream job, I enjoyed it and have learned valuable lessons from working in retail. Here are my personal and most important lessons I have learned from working in retail.
Working 20 hours per week may seem easy, as it amounts to just two and a half days of work. However, I underestimated the challenges of managing my schedule. Between studying full-time, working in retail, managing my website, participating in student representative projects, and maintaining relationships with family and friends, I found it challenging to balance everything.
I use my MacBook calendar to keep track of all my schedules. I assign each schedule a unique colour, creating a colourful and organised timetable. Unlike traditional handwriting calendars, my digital calendar is synced automatically with my phone and other Apple devices, making it an essential part of my daily life.
During my job, I had to learn how to carefully plan my timetable and work efficiently to accomplish more within a specific time frame. However, I also learned that it’s essential to prioritise and realise that I can’t do everything. Taking time for myself is crucial. Being busy isn’t as glamorous as it may seem, so achieving a work-life balance is the key.
PERSONAL SKILLS / COMMUNICATION
Working with customers can help you gain confidence and improve your communication skills. Interacting with different individuals can help you understand that everyone has unique preferences. Moreover, dealing with demanding customers can teach patience and enhance empathy.
TREAT EVERYONE WITH RESPECT
Everyone has a bad day sometimes. However, in retail, you must still be kind and treat people respectfully. Trust me, if you welcome a customer with kindness and friendliness, they will also be friendly to you. Treat everyone the way you would want to be treated. And even though the customers are not lovely to you? Then ‘kill ’em with kindness!’
SELF – CONTROL
I sincerely appreciate Paris and French fashion, so I chose to work for a French fashion brand in retail twice. Working for the brand came with the perk of receiving a discount on clothing, but this benefit proved challenging for me. I was constantly tempted by the new packages of clothes arriving each week and spent a large portion of my salary on clothing during the first few months. While the 50% discount was helpful, it didn’t leave much leftover if an item still cost around 150€.
Working hard without seeing the fruits of your labour in your salary can be frustrating. After a few months of reflection, I came to the fortunate realisation that I don’t actually need half of the new collection that I was eyeing. This realisation has influenced my shopping habits as a whole, as I now take a moment to consider whether I truly need an item before making a purchase.
While at university, I attended a Luxury Brand Management course. This course taught me the importance of customer relationship management in the retail industry. One of the most rewarding aspects of my job is seeing familiar customers with whom I have built a relationship. Although I may only sometimes remember their name or personal story, I always remember what they have purchased and the significance behind their outfit or item. In the pret-a-porter fashion industry, I had the pleasure of working with customers who were easy to remember. Another valuable aspect of my job was building relationships with my colleagues, whom I now consider close friends even after quitting my job. Building relationships with customers and colleagues has been my favourite part of my job.