Work that pony til it pays

I have been working since the age of 16. My mom and I went from store to store filling out (paper) applications for part time jobs. I got my first job as a seasonal holiday employee at Wilson’s Leather, which no longer exists. After working a 3-day evening shift, my paycheck for that week was $127 dollars, I thought I was rich!!! I remember thinking to myself “imagine if I had worked every day!” So, for my sophomore year, junior year, and senior year of high school, I always had a part-time job at different stores in my local mall.

As a fashion design major in high school, I just knew I wanted to work in corporate retail. I figured, working in so many store level positions, my degree would land me a corporate role. Fast forward to graduation, I tried to get a corporate office job in the midst of a horrible recession. In 2011, I did not work a single day that year, talk about restless and depressed!!! In 2012, I finally landed my first “grown up” job at a major retail chain store as an Administrative Assistant. The salary and benefits were perfect and the company activities were great.

After a few years in that role, I learned a lot job wise and personality wise. My boss was horrible and very hindering. She was the type that would leave her empty water bottle on my desk, walk past a water cooler on her way to a meeting, just so I could fill it up and bring it to her in front of an audience. Such a power trip. Needless to say, after she would not release me from my role to apply for other internal roles, I left the company with no new position lined up.

Since 2012, I have learned a lot from working in the retail industry. First thing, it’s a very very small circle and news travels fast. I have been in different entry level roles for 8 years now and nothing kills me more. I’ve always been grateful to even have a job, but have never been able to get to where I think I should be. The biggest lesson from that is reputation, I should have left my first job on better terms, but I let my frustrations get the best of me. Knowing what I know now, it’s important to learn the roles of others around you and add it to your resume.

Learn relevant skills that can spread across different industries so you won’t get locked in like I did. Also, attend as many after work seminars as possible, In 2012-2014, I went to sooooo many speaking engagements. They were affordable, close to my job, the speakers and attendees were great, and wine and cupcakes were always included. Unfortunately, I did not build any substantial connections that enhanced my career, again another learning lesson.

At this stage in my life, I am learning to take my career frustrations and turn them into something more beneficial. My best friend can tell you, I have been ranting about what shoulda/coulda happened at the first company I worked for that could have led me to a more rewarding career now 8 years later. To be honest, I am still griping about it to this day. There are many days when I feel like I don’t know how to make my career better, and there are days where I feel like I should just settle and find joy in other things. Stick it out with me and let’s see how it turns out.

Love and Vibes,
Nichole Naomi


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