What working at Zara/working in retail taught me

You can learn something from absolutely anything you do, whether the thing you did was a good experience, or a bad one. When I finished university I knew that I wanted to travel before settling down and beginning work, so I knew that I had to spend a good few months earning some money to make traveling possible. Because of my goal of eventually working in fashion marketing or PR, I just knew that whilst it probably wouldn’t be possible to get a job that was directly career related, I wanted my job to be fashion related in some way…and I’d try and learn as much as I could about fashion whilst I was there.

I worked at Zara until just recently and I can honestly say I learnt a lot whilst I was there, about the working world, about fashion, and about myself. I want to share what I’ve learnt during my time there, to show that you can turn any experience into a beneficial one!

I learnt that I need to love and enjoy what I eventually end up doing. We work for the majority of our lives, it’s what we do all day, most days, how miserable would life be if we do something we don’t like doing for the majority of our lives? Whilst I liked parts of working at Zara, it made me realise that I want to work really hard to make sure I can do a job that makes me feel good inside and that I’m genuinely passionate about.

Work shouldn’t be taken too seriously. One of my biggest regrets from working at Zara was that I let myself get rilled up and really stressed at work…but what was I doing? I was working in a clothes store, bringing t-shirts and dresses onto the shop floor…do I really need to be getting so stressed about it? Of course not. This isn’t heart surgery, this isn’t sending men to the moon, and I can’t see my job ever being along those lines. I learnt that when I do a job, I literally can’t bare the thought of someone thinking I’m not trying or doing a half-hearted job, and that meant that at work I would rush around, get frustrated and give myself headaches because I was worrying about work too much. Whilst doing a good job will always be important to me, and hopefully the job role I take will mean people rely on me, which obviously might bring on stress, from working at Zara I will now try and be rational when I’m working, see things for what they are and not let it stress me out too much…because who wants that! Remember, work is just work.

I learnt that I like to be busy, I absolutely could not stand around all day barely moving, interacting with people or doing anything. Whilst Saturday and Sunday shifts were the hardest, they meant I was constantly busy and barely checked the clock.

I definitely learnt a lot about fashion too, especially the operations team, deliveries, stock management…the lot! This was what I wanted from Zara and why I chose to do a retail job, not because of pay, not because of where it was, but because I’m genuinely interested in all areas of the fashion industry. I was lucky that I joined Zara two weeks before their new store opened, so I got to go the big warehouse and actively help with the opening of the store, which is something not many people get to experience.

The people you work with make a huge difference. There was a big sense of family through most of my colleagues, yes the work wasn’t particularly glamorous, well paid or well appreciated, we were all in it together. The team that I worked with and the other teams made what could have been a stressful and unenjoyable job, enjoyable. Working with nice, friendly and funny people make you forget about the parts of work you don’t enjoy, it’s extremely important.

Retail is hard work. Not that I ever thought it was easy, but I’d had no reason to stop and think about how hard it might be, or to appreciate those at the bottom of the retail chain. I’ll never do that again, I’ll always make sure I’m tidy in store, polite to staff, and don’t expect the world. Walking around Zara in Leeds today watching all the madness of the sale, the mess, the chaos, the customers, made me appreciate the fact that I don’t work there anymore, I just kept thinking of the closedown!

Your managers make a huge difference. I was extremely lucky that my manager was amazing, and absolutely held no superiority against those that she was managing. From speaking with others I know that that wasn’t always the case with other managers, and it made a big impact on the way they worked and interacted with work. I’ve definitely seen good management and bad management and I’ll 100% carry what I’ve seen with me if I’m ever in a managerial position.

What did you learn from the last job you had/the job you’re in now?

Until next time

Megan

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