Retail me this: Why I love my job


I never needed to work a day in my life. My parents have been more than generous with my education, transportation and even fun expenditures. But when I was 16, I wanted some more money than my work as a babysitter provided me, so I started to look for a job.

My first real job was at a paint-your-own-pottery studio, where I did everything from hosting birthday parties to glazing and firing the "artwork" (a term that could be applied very loosely to some of the pieces).

However, they didn't provide me enough hours to make a decent income, so during fall break of my freshman year of college, I applied for the seasonal position at Bath & Body Works – where I still work today.

Working retail has been one of the best experiences for me for a variety of reasons.

For starters, it has helped me learn how to deal with the rudest of the rude. I once had a group of three high school guys shopping for their girlfriends ask me if I knew if the massage oil was really good for "getting something."

They ripped me apart for not being knowledgeable about all the products, espcially massage oils, which apparently means I will end up alone.

The experience also provided its opportunities to find counterexamples to the stereotypical power-tripping customer. Some customers are extremely nice, like the 8-year-old girl who sang me the Michigan State University fight song when I told her of my family ties there.

My time working in retail has also introduced me to some of the best people I've met in my life.

Every person I work with has a different story. One worked at Bath & Body Works and Ann Taylor to pay for law school. She didn't need to, but she didn't want to rely on her parents. Then there's my boss who worked in retail, but decided she wanted an office job. After about six months, she went back to retail because she missed interacting with customers. She just liked making people happy at work.

But as you might expect, there are some downsides to retail jobs.

Running back and forth between our off-site storage facility and the store multiple times in one night and not leaving the store until 1:30 a.m. was not a highlight of this past summer.

But positive experiences, like serenading your assistant manager or being visited by carolers, definitely make up for those negative experiences.

When people ask me what I did over my breaks and I proudly respond with "I worked for most of my break, and I hung out with friends and family." I often get funny looks.

To everyone who thinks working retail is beneath them, I challenge you to try working a week at a retail job. You might actually enjoy it.

And hey, worse comes to worst, with the lack of journalism jobs available, I know I'll always have post-graduation opportunities, perhaps in management at some store.

And I wouldn't mind that at all – at least the bills would be paid.

— Marino is a sophomore from Winnetka, Ill., majoring in English writing. She is the features editor for The DePauw.