Born and bred a British, Shamima, 17, is all about creativity and self-expression. She wishes to pursue a career in Medicine and pursue her interests in poetry, fashion, writing and maybe in the distant future, property development
The greatest leap towards independence (and adulthood) has got to be when a teen learns to earn and pay their way.
Getting onto the job ladder for the first time, however, has turned into something of impossibility but believe me persistence is the key.
Having scoured the high street and the internet, months on end, in search of a vacancy; posting my resume at every opportunity, I finally managed to land myself a job in retail.
Now that I’m here… I’d like to divulge some truths with regard to my four week experience as an employee.
Always follow company guidelines on how you should dress and keep yourself neat and tidy. Particularly in retail, image is everything. If you are worried about the uniform and feel you need to amend it, speak to a senior about it.
School students can only work for a certain number of hours, make sure both you and your employer know this. Even if you are not working the maximum hours, make sure you only take on what you can manage, and that your education will not suffer because of it. You need to know where your limits are to avoid total burn out!
Know your rate of pay as well as the method of payment, keep track of when you are supposed to get paid because your managers will not have the time to check every time. Find out who you are to ask for assistance on this.
The pressure is definitely on as now, people are counting on you. Turning up late means that something somewhere is not manned for that duration, leading to one of two things, either your colleagues will be stretched very thin trying to cover for you as well as doing their own duties, or customers are left no member of staff to consult on department X. Very poor service!
Likewise do not be too overenthusiastic and turn up half an hour early – it won’t be appreciated, trust me.
For the first time, for some teens, you have an independent role of responsibility, by which I mean no one will trail behind you, doing the bits you’ve missed. You are solely responsible for your own duties. If you do not finish putting stock out, racks will remain empty. And if you do not bother to tidy the displays properly, your displays are going to stay very shabby. You need to make sure you take control. Judge the amount of time you have and work accordingly.
What about the team???
Although I have, up until now, made work sound very isolated, you are part of a huge team. While I suggest you do not expect others to help you all of the time, be prepared to offer a quick hand when a colleague needs one, particularly where a customer is involved. It also means that when you have finished you own duties, it would be a very responsible for you to offer assistance.
I need help!
While colleagues cannot do your jobs for you, if you are unsure as to what to do, make sure you seek help. It is part of the learning process and would mean you getting things done quicker and with more confidence. The worst thing you could do is not ask, and do everything wrong!
If company policy means that you are assigned to a supervisor of some sort, find out who that person is, and how they prefer you to do things. They will most likely be your first port of call when in a dilemma. You may also need to report to them when you arrive and before you leave.
Dealing with others
Working in retail means working with the general public so expect lots of queries. You might feel nervous at first especially if you are unsure but it is perfectly okay to admit that, they understand, honest. Tell the customer that you will find someone who does know and direct them to that person, or ask them to hold on while you find out. And most importantly, ensure that you do come back.
It might seem frustrating if you are not particularly a people-person, but try to imagine yourself in the customers’ shoes. For example if a sales assistant told me that I would find the rainbow teddies “down the aisle, 3 left turns and it’ll be on your right” I very probably won’t find it, so do your bit and take your customer to the item.
Work colleagues come in all different shapes and sizes. There is a huge difference between them and your fellow students. You will find that some a particularly nice and some are not, other don’t really seem to care. Regardless of how others behave around you, always keep yourself in check and be indifferent to it. On the other hand if someone is targeting you in particular for whatever reason, in whatever way then make sure you let a senior member of staff know, you have a right to be treated fairly and to feel safe at work
… and the seniors?
You will quickly realise that the managerial system works in hierarchy, and you will most likely be at the bottom of it. It is almost like school cliques and as with many school cliques’s tension can arise. There may already be prejudices and unpleasantries in place long before you joined the team but that does not mean that you have to be part of it. Remember, those above you have the authority. However as with colleagues, when exercising authority, tends towards bullying, speak out,
But above all…
I hope I haven’t made work-life sound too dreary and dull, because it isn’t. Working in retail means that you get to meet lots and lots of amazing people every day, and you can hone your customer service skills into a thing to be proud of. Being able to enjoy what you do is most important because it can override anything less pleasant in your work place.
Plan you day around your hours so that you do not miss out on life or school deadlines and plan your work hours at work to make sure that you complete your duties and then some.
Working is hugely rewarding. Aside from the responsibility, the money in your bank is your own ‘hard-earned cash’ and you’ll want to look after it. Use it how you think best and always remember, however independent you are, if you’re unsure you are allowed to go back to your parents for advice.