Should you Work in Retail?

Female working in retail
Working in retail can provide a variety of benefits

Retail is a common form of work for the average college student. Coincidentally, retail may prove to be a valuable form of work that isn’t too difficult to find. I have a personal philosophy: My belief is that every student should work in retail at some point for at least 4 months.


Well, retail has much to offer. Besides paying you minimum wage (or possibly more depending or where you work and what you do), retail also pays you with valuable knowledge and experience. It fosters skills and concepts that are applicable in real life.

This Forbes article lists several reasons why working in retail is important. Among those include understanding consumer behavior and understanding more about yourself.

But there’s more to it than that, especially for students. For about 4 years I worked in retail while taking classes in college. Was it always fun? No, sometimes it sucked! Was it worthwhile? Absolutely!

Let’s get into some reasons why working in retail is worthwhile:

1)  As a student, working in retail will put your time management skills to the test. While you may only be required to work 3 or 4 hrs, you’re going to need to budget your time wisely in order to factor in studying and working on any projects or assignments. Also, if your spending power revolves highly around your paycheck (ie. you aren’t receiving a lot of money from your parents or another source), you’ll be required to take your personal money management game to the next level.  Overall, you’ll begin to think more about the world around you. Your perception of things will inevitably change.  
2)  While understanding your finances might not be currently a critical demand, you’ll learn that understanding money is important to the future. Eventually, you will need to concern yourself with things like rent, bills, or perhaps a mortgage. Currently, you may have to deal with things like loans for your tuition. Understanding (at least from a practical and personal perspective) how advertising and marketing works can help you put finances into perspectives.   

3) In retail, one of the most important skills you can develop is customer service. Great customer service is essential in retail but also translates well into your daily life. Think about it. You will need to talk to other people at some point. Whether it’s interviewing for a job, finding efficient ways to negotiate will colleagues or team members for a project, or simply asking insightful and useful questions during any setting, being able to effectively communicate is an invaluable skill to have.   

the best customer service

4) You’ll be introduced to the real world. Many students, upon graduating, are thrust into the den of wolves known as the real world where they must learn the skill known as adulating. They frantically attempt to deal with budgeting, communication, and a variety of other techniques.

All of these skills can be learned (or at least witnessed) in retail. You’re more equipped and better prepared, putting you several steps ahead of your peers. Aside from that, you’ll be more open-minded. Chances are while working in retail you’ll talk to a variety of people with different viewpoints.

No matter what you do after college, you’ll surely come into contact with different kinds of individuals. Each of these individuals will be from various backgrounds and hold values, religious beliefs, and even personal philosophies (the list could go on) than yourself. In order to make your encounters worthwhile and avoid unnecessary conflict, it’s important to be mindful of those different than yourself and learn how to understand them.

Retail allows you to practice these skills albeit on a much smaller level.

There’s much more that working in retail can offer you but these are just a few things that I’ve personally found useful in my experience. Of course, what each person gets out of a situation will vary based on their open-mindedness and personal viewpoints.

Also, if you’re wondering why I chose 4 months, I believe that after 4 months most people will be fairly adjusted to their job even if they only worked 1 or 2 days each week. This will allow the person enough time to have likely experienced the points I made above.

Hopefully, you enjoy this post! Did you ever work in retail? What were your experiences? Were they positive or negative? Let me know in the comments section. As usual, thanks for reading!


Photos: Cashier, Eurobase fulfillment