Lessons in Retail: Summer Jobs

Michael Kors: you may have seen him on Project Runway, or maybe you've see his products modeled on Kendall Jenner- perhaps in department stores or maybe you have not even heard of him, but he played a pretty large role in my life this past summer.  Michael Kors is a world-renowned designer of luxury clothing, shoes, handbags, and accessories.  Established in 1981, his brand has developed dramatically since the beginning and has launched into two different labels: Michael Kors Collection and MICHAEL Michael Kors.  With his products in department stores all over the world, there are limited Michael Kors boutiques, but we are lucky enough to have a couple in Los Angeles and back in my home Palo Alto.  


I worked at Michael Kors towards the end of my senior year in high school into the summer.  Previously, I worked casually at The Dailey Method in childcare while babysitting a few hours on the side.  These jobs along with many other camp counseling jobs in my past were the only work experience I had ever had in my life.  Although at the time I was still in high school, I found it extremely important to get real work experience that I could take into the rest of my life.  I applied to Michael Kors and got called back for an interview a few weeks later.  The interview in person was putting together head to toe outfits, trying them on and answering a few questions.  I had so much fun in the 30 minute interview, I knew Michael Kors was the place I wanted to be.  Working on the floor, replenishing waters, prepping bags, ringing up items, talking to customers, doing stock, running items, taking out trash… I started as the baby of the Michael Kors family.  The first few weeks were rough because I got little to no training except for a tour of the store and the stock room. As an assistant, the manager didn’t expect much out of my besides acting as an extra hand.  And even as an extra hand, my manager did not teach me how to use anything, rather I had to teach myself.  I found myself disliking work for the first few weeks, but I eventually came to love it.  

After working for a month, I thought I was done doing chores for Michael Kors.  The job was taking up hours of my social life and I felt I was not receiving anything in return, but with patience and hard work I finally earned something I was proud of- a promotion!  I transitioned into the stylist position with much more guidance than before.  The store manager watched me closely as co-workers educated me about the history of Michael, product knowledge and how to approach customers.  The more I learned, the more confident I felt about my work despite my young age in comparison to my co-workers.  The manager became increasingly impressed with my work ethic and continued to challenge me with larger profit goals, quizzes about products and tests with customers.  I never thought what I learned in retail would apply to my everyday life, but it turns out I learned more about reading people than I knew.  After engaging in conversation with one to many random people this past summer, I gained people skills only attainable through lots of experience and practice.

I learned an incredible amount in the short time I worked at Michael Kors, not just about people but about the fashion industry as a whole.  Even though in the beginning it was difficult, what I learned is sometimes you have to stick it out to get to the good part!  So, as we move on to many of our first jobs as college students, I wish you all luck in your first jobs, especially if they are in retail!