Sky: Every student should have retail experience

Nathan Sky

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board.

Immediately after the celebrated time of Thanksgiving, the thrill of Black Friday surges, and people flood to their favorite retailers to take part in the Black Friday deals. With this in mind, we should all take a moment to express our best wishes to the employees who have to face the mob of anxious customers seeking out the best deal during the holiday season.

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“Retail” is one of those words that has the ability to contain several negative connotations at the mere thought of it. It’s a position that often gets taken for granted, as we simply expect there to always be people ready and waiting to take care of our needs.

While thankless, being part of a retail team is a task that, I believe, most people should experience. More often than not, the experience allows for greater empathy for retail employees — knowing what the workers are going through on a daily basis — in addition to developing valuable skills like working under pressure, commercial awareness and communication.

One of the biggest reasons why most people refuse retail positions is the risk of dealing with high-maintenance customers. Even just one experience with these kinds of customers is enough to turn people away. In reality, this encounter promotes resilience and patience. No one likes to be yelled at, but the funny thing about it is that the more you get yelled at, the less of a big deal it becomes.

Retail is a challenge, but there’s so much to be gained from the experience.

It’s important to be able to face adversaries with a straight face, brush it off and laugh about it after with coworkers. That being said, it’s usually the coworkers that make a job worth sticking around for. Learning to depend on your coworkers is an extremely valuable skill that’s relevant in many professional contexts.

Even if you disagree with someone, being able to maintain autonomy and continue to produce good work is a strong display of dedication and resilience. Retail often has the image of being a filler job, but the experiences to gain in this environment are crucial, and these jobs contain skills that future employers look for. Working in a team is a skill you can’t really learn without getting involved, and working in retail is the perfect opportunity to develop it.

Bringing all of these skills together will enable you to enter a new workplace with a level of confidence you might not have had otherwise. Retail encourages its employees to hold their ground and maintain a positive work environment despite the circumstances.

With the right team, you can face anything. Realizing this and implementing it into your future will truly make you stand out among the crowd.

Retail is a challenge, but there’s so much to be gained from the experience. After working somewhere, going back will never really be the same, as you know what happens behind the scenes. You’ll know what it feels like to be in their shoes.

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Maybe a new cashier is getting stressed out over a cash register issue and is apologizing profusely. Instead of adding to the anxiety the worker is facing, reassuring them that it’s alright and you don’t mind is one of the greatest things you can do for a retail employee.

Patience is running short everywhere around us, and if we put ourselves in a position that requires a little extra patience, we would live in a better world.

Nathan Sky can be reached at letters@collegian.com or on Twitter @NathanSky97