For my first job, I worked at a major department store in the children’s department. This was a children’s department that had everything a kid might need from birth to middle school. From cribs, car seats and strollers to semi-trendy clothing and even toys, I sold it all. Here are the five “not so usual” things I learned from my first job:
1.) Most people do not return the clothes they try on back to the hangers, let alone back to the racks they came on. Back to school time was the worst. Literally for two straight weeks, it looked like a clothes bomb had gone off in the dressing rooms no matter how many times I went in to clear it all out. I am talking piles of clothes haphazardly strewn in piles waist deep, which is why to this day, I always return my clothes to the rack along with items left behind by others.
2.) I learned the power of sales, and that I am really good at it! I can sell pretty much anyone anything. Case in point: If you had just found out that you were expecting a baby and you came into my department, you would leave with a stroller, crib or car seat…even if you just came in to browse. I still chuckle at my 16-year-old, non-mom self preaching the benefits of all of these products. What did I know? Apparently I could talk a good game though!
3.) I learned that I am competitive and like to win contests (seriously, I didn’t know I was competitive until I started this job). On a regular basis, employees were rewarded with $2 bills for each store credit card application we “sold.” I still to this day do not understand the significance of using a $2 bill, but I am sure there was a reason. Doesn’t matter though because I would regularly walk out the door with $30 or more in my pocket! Score! That’s a lot of money to a teenager back in the *cough* 1990’s *cough.* Like three tanks of gas a lot!
4.) Being early is better than being on time and not for the reason you think. I wanted the prime parking space! Everywhere I have worked since then, I have always been early to get the best spot. I have no idea how this started or why I even feel that it is important. Maybe it is that competitive spirit again?
5.) I learned how important interpersonal skills are. Not only was it important to know how to successfully communicate with customers, but it was equally important to get along with co-workers. I learned conflict management, teamwork, how to diffuse an escalating situation with an upset customer and how to effectively communicate with all levels of management. That right there was invaluable experience to add to a resume.
Of course with all of this, I learned “real” skills such as being detail-oriented, on time, accountable and trustworthy, and that starting at the bottom rung of the ladder truly is a rite of passage. I wouldn’t trade my experience at my first job for the world!