Last summer, I worked at a retail store. From April to the start of Orientation Week, I held the position of a sales associate at the first location of a chain that had just come to the city.

My favorite aspects about working in retail were the group of people that I worked with — many of whom I eventually become friends with, the fact that I mastered — and ultimately became a pro at using the POS system, but most significantly, the fact that I learned plenty of transferable customer service skills from my daily interactions with clients — skills that, as Marie points out in her post, are not necessarily learned through prestigious internships (but are rather an asset to have when applying for them).

If you didn’t happen to land one of those internships this time around, and you don’t have anything planned for this upcoming summer, and you do not have a deep interest in smelling like food when you finish your shift, I strongly suggest that you start looking for employment opportunities in the retail sector.

I sent in my application at roughly this time of the year last year. My interview took place at the very beginning of March, approximately three weeks flew by prior to hearing back from them, and only at the beginning of April did I get an email with the official documents confirming that I was hired and was expected to start toward the end of the month. 

Although I didn’t love standing for 5+ hours straight, and my initial pleasure certainly began to change when a change in the management team occurred, I believe that every college student should experience a summer in retail, simply because learning to deal with different types of people is probably one of the most important skills to have in life, and getting a job at a store in your hometown is the easiest way to acquire them.

So in conclusion, this is a major reminder to stop whatever assignment it is that you’re working on, (or pause that Netflix episode), and instead plan to set aside time every couple of days, to both look online, and ask around in person, for a job. Because, from my experience, given that this type of work does not require technical certifications or university degrees, one of the keys to getting a summer job in retail is to start searching EARLY. Like, now.


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