Happy Thursday! The weekend is near. Yes it’s been a crazy long week, but it’ll all be worth it in the end, right? Right.
This post will be about two summer jobs/internships I’ve had throughout college. First and foremost, I am not sponsored nor was I bribed to speak about these companies. These are my personal experiences, and I will share the key takeaways that I have learned from working at each company. I even debated giving these companies code names, but hey, what have I got to lose if I’m speaking positively? Let us begin.
Bodhi Fitness Center
I worked at this gym during the summer of 2014. For starters, I did not get this job out of luck, or out of a good interview. My brother was/is friendly with the owner, and thankfully, he took his chances with me and put me on his team. Why work at a fitness center for a summer job when I could have had an internship? Well, at that point, I just switched over to business as a major and I didn’t have much experience. Secondly, this was when I started to get into powerlifting and it was a dream of mine to open up a gym – so my brother said, “if you want to open up your own business, it’d be smart of you to work in the business and learn firsthand.” That is exactly what I did. I was eager to learn. Though I may have stumbled here and there, I gained a better understanding of what it truly means to be a small business owner. Here are some key takeaways:
- Great customer service goes a long way – greeting members, being attentive to their needs, creating personal conversation, creating relationships; it all matters
- Work hard, play hard – I was one of the few girls who worked there that summer, and since I weightlifted, I was never scared to put away the 45 lb. plates because, well, equality, right? I can do anything a man can do, and possibly better (he he ha ha. Jk, be humble, Brettany)
- Be available at all times – this means taking on as many shifts as you can, even if it means working from 4pm-12am. Those were the days.
I’m slightly burnt out from work so I actually can’t think of anything else to add at this moment, but don’t you worry, if and when I do, I’ll gladly jot them down. Anyway, let’s talk about these said points for a moment. You may be thinking to yourself, “I already knew everything you just said, B.” But did you really, though? Because I said the same thing, till I actually put said learnings into practice and paid attention to how others reacted to these small actions. Basically, a little goes a long way. People will always remember the minuscule gestures. So, in essence, be the best you can be and work your butt off. Even if you work at, say, Mcdonald’s. A job is a job!
I had a long term internship before summer of 2015, but I’ll write about that experience last because it was the most memorable, and it brought me to have the passion that I have now for my current career. Getting right into it – this past summer, I worked as a Retail Management Intern at Nordstrom. A retail store having an internship program?! Why yes, you read that correctly. For starters, Nordy is widely known for their top-notch customer service. In fact, if you don’t believe me, ask anyone who is around your parents’ age and they will surely speak upon that. Here’s an example of how great they train their army to be – when the store opened in one of its earliest locations, it took over a spot that used to be a tire store. A man walks in, thinking that this is still his trusted tire store, looking to return the tire in his hands. If you know anything about Nordy, you know that they sell (mostly) everything but tires. But, the culture of Nordstrom is to assess the situation – do what you think is best. So, of course, the salesperson took the tire and the customer left with some spare change in his pocket. If that doesn’t resonate with you, I don’t know what will!
*Anyway, before I get into the nit and grit of things, I will pause here because it’s Cinco de Mayo and I’m about to hang out with some of my friends from home. Speak soon.
Happy Sunday, and Happy Mother’s Day to all the motherly figures out there!
Sorry it’s been a couple of days since I’ve started this post – I use writing as a way to de-stress throughout the week, and during the weekends I just like to sit back and relax.
I’ve decided to have this post only be about Bodhi and Nordstrom, as these two jobs were stepping stones. The main internship that I want to speak about will cover a lot, so I will make a separate post for that specific time in my life. But, needless to say, I am excited to finish writing about my time at Nordy – so let’s get back into it.
It was nearing the end of my eighth semester at Stony Brook, and I knew it was time for me to start applying for summer internships. When I say I applied to a lot of internships, I mean that I literally would spend weeks just pushing out as many applications as I could. Thankfully, my sister had already helped me brush up my resume, so I wasn’t too worried about that. And, like I said, at this point, I had some experiences under my buckle already, so I was confident I would get at least one internship. The thing is, though, I was slightly too confident, and in some ways, I became cocky. I was not humble. There were two weeks (give or take) where I had interviews on interviews, and I thought they all went well. That’s the thing though, I wanted everyone to want me, and when they didn’t, I held some kind of grudge over these companies, thinking that I was so great and that they were missing out on someone so amazing. Psh, like really, Brettany?! Who are you to even have that kind of ego? I know now that I was being way too prideful, and that I was not being fully honest with myself. I did not self-evaluate, and in turn, I became somewhat volatile.
There was this one afternoon where I was in my apartment room looking for internships randomly on Linkedin. I stumbled across the application page for the Retail Management Internship through Nordstrom, and I thought to myself, “why not, let’s take a chance with this!” Round one of the interview was to answer questions through a video portal. If the hiring professionals were interested, then you would be invited to come in to the store that you preferred, for an in person interview. I don’t know how this happened so quickly, but literally the day after, I received an email asking for me to come into Store #520, Nordstrom at Roosevelt Field. So many thoughts were rushing through my head – I knew I needed to step up my game, because it was already close to the end of April/beginning of May at this point, and I received no offers for any internships. But, I decided to ask my mother and my boyfriend’s parents to pray for me, to help calm me in this storm. I even decided to pray for myself in order to have some peace and some confidence.
The interview went really well – I was confident, but I was okay if it wasn’t meant to be at that point. One week later, I got the call saying that they were offering me the intern position, and of course, right at that moment, I gladly accepted!
I learned so much by working in retail. Here are some key learnings below:
- The customer is always right – we are there to serve the customer, and no matter what, we must do all in our power to have the customer leave the store with a memorable experience. This is why if you haven’t noticed, at Nordy, the salespeople are always coming over the counter to personally hand the customer his/her shopping bag(s)
- Being personal and relatable is key – the thing in any type of sales job I’ve learned, is to be able to connect with the person that you’re trying to sell something to. There’s no way to force someone to buy something, unless there is a said common ground, and a relationship that makes the person to be comfortable around you – which in turn, makes the individual trust you
- Be observant – I worked in the Women’s Shoes department, and disclaimer, I’ve never worked in retail before. This was all new to me, so in order for me to learn the language and the ways of selling, I shadowed a couple of team members including my dept. manager, which was great because it allowed me to pick and choose what I thought could work for me. For instance, this is an old school trade, but my manager would kneel down on the floor and personally put shoes on for the customer; since she did this, I did it too. Customers like it when you go the extra mile, that goes for anyone and anything in life
- Adaptability – As interns, we had to get into groups and present an innovation project, proposing an idea to store executives, which would help them improve certain pain points. Initially, my group had a really awesome idea, which consisted of mobile college tours, which would help expand reach within the millennial market. But, a week before the final presentation, we were told that this idea, though great and all, was not within the said guidelines. We thought we were so screwed, because where were we gonna have the time to regroup and come up with a whole new idea and make a presentation about it, when we all had different schedules?! Luckily, a light bulb went off for all of us. We came up with a genius idea of improving the “buy online pick up in store” process. In the end, our proposal ended up being the best of all, and it was sent to the regional competition between other intern groups from all East Coast stores
I am a firm believer of everything happening for a reason. Believe in yourself fully, but know when to be humble about things. This is something I have come to learn, and am continuously learning every day.