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If you are interested in retail sales, you may be interested in this career interview with a customer service representative at a consignment store. In her interview she explains the challenges she faces such as unhappy customers or obnoxious children, as well as how this job has inspired her to one day open her own consignment shop.

Q: What is your job title and what industry do you work in? How many years of experience do you have in this field? How would you describe yourself using only three adjectives?

A: I am a customer service representative at a local children’s consignment store in the city that I live in. I have been working at this job for two and a half years. I would describe myself as organized, resourceful, and considerate.

Q: What’s your ethnicity and gender? How has it hurt or helped you? If you ever experienced discrimination, how have you responded and what worked best?

A: Being a white female has helped me in the field I am working in. People seem to be more trusting with me and they tend to take my word when I explain things in the store to them. When customers want a description or advice on baby equipment or clothing, they will listen more intently, and I think that my ethnicity does play a role in that. I have not been discriminated against in my job, but there are men who come in and think that I do not know what I am talking about sometimes because I am not as old as they are. I like to continue talking to those men and explain that I have three children and I have used a variety of things for babies and children. They usually take into consideration what I say after that.

Q: How would you describe what you do? What does your work entail? Are there any common misunderstandings you want to correct about what you do?

A: As my day begins, I open the store and count the money in the register for the day. I work alone so everything to get the day started is my responsibility. Then, I will walk around the store and make sure there is no trash or anything left on the shelves and I will straighten the racks. I get to work about 15 minutes before the store opens so I can have time to get everything ready. When the store opens, I turn on all the lights and put a movie in for the kids during the day. Most of the time I will just help customers and ring up sales. There are some days that I need to price clothing and toys. There are many people who think that just because I work alone in a consignment store that I can sit all day and not have much to do. This is far from the truth as working alone means you have more work to do. I am responsible for organizing the racks and shelves during the day and for taking things apart if someone buys something large. However, I love my job and I love having the peace that working alone offers.

Q: On a scale of 1 to 10 how would you rate your job satisfaction? What might need to change about your job to unleash your full enthusiasm?

A: I would rate my job satisfaction as an eight. I truly love what I do, but there are days when you have the rude customers. This is typical of any retail job, so I consider what I do pretty relaxing and normal. Something that I would like to see changed is the hours in the morning. I am available to come in to work earlier than the time we open, so I would like to be given the option to open earlier. This would give the store more hours to do business, and I would also get more hours on my paycheck.

Q: If this job moves your heart – how so? Ever feel like you found your calling or sweet spot in life? If not, what might do it for you?

A: There have been times when a mother has come in the store and she does not have a lot of money, so I would give her some onesies or bibs for her child. This is what makes my job worth everything else I deal with. To see the appreciation from a mother who needs something but cannot afford it, and then you can help them is pleasurable. I don’t think I have found my calling, but I do want to open my own consignment store of some type.

Q: Is there anything unique about your situation that readers should know when considering your experiences or accomplishments?

A: I am a single mother, so I have to manage my time between my children and my job. But if you know how to balance things in life, it is rather easy.

Q: How did you get started in this line of work? If you could go back and do it differently, what would you change?

A: I got started in this job when I was pregnant with my daughter. I shopped at the store and when I found out there was an opening, I applied for it. I would not change how I applied for this job at all, and I think knowing the people you work with before you get the job there is a big plus.

Q: What did you learn the hard way in this job and what happened specifically that led up to this lesson?

A: I have learned that to work in the public in customer service, you have to have a thick shell. There have been people who have not been happy with the prices set on the equipment we carry, and they will take their frustrations out on me. I don’t set the prices, and I try to explain that to them.

Q: What is the single most important thing you have learned outside of school about the working world?

A: Aside from being in school, I have learned that people are genuinely caring and will be loyal to your store if you show them the courtesy and professionalism they deserve.

Q: What’s the strangest thing that ever happened to you in this job?

A: One of the strangest things I have seen is a raccoon that was trapped in the attic of our building. It scared me and I would not go upstairs for a month.

Q: Why do you get up and go to work each day? Can you give an example of something that really made you feel good or proud?

A: I get up and go to work every day so I can support my children. I also go to my job because I love what I do.

Q: What kind of challenges do you handle and what makes you want to just quit?

A: Some of the challenges I have found are children who completely mess up the racks in the store and then I have to go behind them and reorganize them. I have also had to deal with people who steal things from the store.

Q: How stressful is your job? Are you able to maintain a comfortable or healthy work-life balance? How?

A: My job is really not that stressful because I don’t have to deal with the drama from other co-workers. I do have the occasional customer who is unruly, but overall I am pleased.

Q: What’s a rough salary range for the position you hold? Are you paid enough and/or happy living within your means?

A: At the time I make minimum wage, and for the work I do I don’t think it is enough. But I can support my children on what I make.

Q: How much vacation do you take? Is it enough?

A: I work four days a week so I have three days off. I was able to take a week’s vacation this summer and I have every holiday off. This is more than enough for me.

Q: What education and skills do you need to get hired and succeed in this field?

A: All you really need for this job is a high school diploma.

Q: What would you tell a friend considering your line of work?

A: I would tell a friend considering this job that they will enjoy what they do, and they should try to apply for a job like this when they see it.

Q: If you could write your own ticket, what would you like to be doing in five years?

A: In five years I hope to have my accounting degree and to be in business for myself running a consignment store.