I started working in retail when I was 17, and at that point I really felt like I would never leave that environment. Retail work is so demanding with regards to being physically fit, as I was required to change displays, which consisted of dressing mannequins and moving shelving, not to mention running around for customers who needed a different size top or forgot to get shoes to try with an outfit. In retail you are required to know your company, and as I worked within the clothing department, it was really useful to know different materials and how they wash and their value in competing stores. I couldn’t imagine myself working in any other place but retail as I grew to know it so well.
However, when I turned 21, I found that the company I worked with was not supportive of such a young person progressing to supervisor/management roles. I knew I was capable of these roles, as I was already working full time and working alongside one of my managers. When it became clear that this was no longer an option, I found a job with Hampshire County Council, and to be honest, I was quite scared about the change. I was used to wearing a uniform and knowing everything about my job. Now I was about to walk into an office environment, knowing nothing about payroll (I was never very good at maths), I didn’t know anyone there or the customer groups. I went from running around all day to sitting behind a computer for 8 hours a day.
I have been working in an office for 8 months now and I have to say, that I now know my job pretty well, I know the customer groups and I am not sitting behind the computer all day. There are so many similarities between retail and the office. For example, I still have to run around for customers, only now I’m going between departments to find information for them. Also, customer service is still the key!