What You May Learn From Working in Retail


For most people, working at the local mall or fast food restaurant was their first job. And for a lot of those people, they vow to never work a job like that again. They’ll tell you horror stories about their experiences and the customers they had to deal with, and how they didn’t get paid enough for their work. Despite all of the negatives you may hear, there are many valuable lessons and skills to be learned from such jobs.

In most jobs, you have to be able to communicate effectively with only your co-workers. This is something that’s necessary to keep business flowing smoothly around the office and everyone on one accord. While working in an industry that serves customers, you not only have to communicate with your co-workers but also with those customers. This communication is somewhat different because the things you may say to a fellow co-worker isn’t something you would necessarily say to a customer. You have to be friendly, gentle, and efficient all at the same time. Customer communication teaches you persuasive, influencing, and negotiation skills that you may not get to develop while interacting with co-workers. You will also learn how to fake a smile when you need to.

When working face to face with the general public, you’ll come across people from all walks of life. Their beliefs, backgrounds, and mindsets are all different and because of this, you get new perspectives. You become more open to different ideas, and different ways of thinking and solving problems. Working in retail will give you the opportunity to meet amazing, and some not so amazing, people but by working and observing them and their behaviors you could learn so much.

The biggest test that you will find while working retail is a test of your patience. You may discover yourself working with a customer who has no idea why they are in the store but are set on finding something they feel that they need. You may also come across indecisive people who have no sense of urgency or time, but will decide to come into your store 10 minutes before closing looking to make a purchase. These events may become annoying but you must always remain cool and serve the customer with a smile. Having patience can take you so far. Not only in the work place, but also in life in general. Developing this skill comes with, dare I say it, patience. It’s nothing that happens over night, but the more conscious you are about it, the easier it’ll be to tap into that skill.

The most valuable lesson that you will learn from working those first timer jobs is respect and appreciation. People in the service industry have to endure a lot for not so great pay. They have to deal with long shifts on their feet, disgruntled customers, and nagging bosses who think the world may end if the sugar packets aren’t counted every shift. After you have experienced such jobs, you will be more appreciative and respectful of those workers who are servicing you and making sure your shopping experience is above and beyond your expectations.

Don’t take for granted any of your jobs. You may feel that the only thing you’re gaining from that experience is a check, but if you take a step back and really evaluate all that you do, you’ll see that it’s worth much more.