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Q: What is your job title and what industry do you work in? How many years of experience do you have in this field?

A: I am an Assistant Manager in the Women's Fashion Retail Industry. I started my first retail job eight years ago and never chose a different career.

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: Basically, I help women purchase clothes. I find sizes, coordinate outfits, and receive payments. I also have manager's duties but they are a small part of my workday. Fashion retail is straightforward but a common misconception is that it's easy. Customers can be tiresome and a great deal of work goes into making the clothes look presentable.

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: My job satisfaction fluctuates from a six to an eight out of ten. Many factors can leave me feeling like I had an awesome week or a terrible month. I would raise my satisfaction if I had recognition for meeting performance goals. A job paying commission would certainly increase my job satisfaction.

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: Retail makes me feel good, but I wouldn't consider it moving work. It's technically a career but I will always think of it as a job. I don't feel like I make a difference in the world. I should be able to look back on my life and see that I contributed in a major way. Retail will not do that for me.

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

A: I worked in retail six years before I took my first management position, but management is possible within one year. Most retailers promote from within and they look at performance over tenure. I was offered my first management position within five months at my first job. I couldn't accept because I was under 18 but that was a lesson for me. If I work hard my performance will pay off.

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 began my retail career when I was in high school looking for summer work. It was the only store hiring. I easily fell in love with the retail environment and I wouldn't change anything about my retail career.

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

A: It was hard for me to learn and accept that hard work goes unnoticed. Superiors come into situations with their own opinions. I have found it difficult to change their minds no matter how much evidence I have. I thought my reputation would give me some credit. It didn't. I learned that I always have to look out for myself.

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

A: Life has taught me budgeting. School taught me the math but work taught me to use the math to my advantage. I have to make my paycheck work for me so I can take care of myself and grow my personal wealth.

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

A: Strange things always happen in retail. I have to deal with many people from all walks of life. One night, a young man came into the store and asked to be measured for women's undergarments. I recommended a size and took him into a dressing room like I would any customer.

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: The obvious reason I go to work is to earn a living. There is also feeling of accomplishment when I clock out each day. It makes me feel good when I'm able to help a customer choose an entire outfit that includes all matching accessories. I once helped a woman pick the clothes, jewelry, and shoes for a blind date. Her confidence soared when she saw herself in the mirror. A few weeks later she came into the store and told me about her new relationship.

Q: What kind of challenges do you handle and what makes you really want to pull your hair out?

A: Figuring out what will make a person happy is challenging. Customers already know what they like. I quickly find it in our store, match it with accessories, and sell it. It sounds easy but it can be a pain. Some customers act as if they want help but they don't listen to anything I say. It can also be frustrating when customers get upset over corporate policies. My company offers layaway and layaway has many rules. If customers break certain rules they may lose money. I understand their reactions and it hurts my soul when I have to tell someone they lose their money. No exceptions. No refunds.

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

A: My job is stress free for a quarter of the year. My stress increases as it gets closer to the holidays. The hours are longer. Store traffic increases and stressed customers are harder to deal with. I have to worry about theft and I'm stretched too thin. I have to push work from my mind when I clock out and keep other sources of stress at a minimum. I push forward until I make it to the slow season.

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

A: Entry level retail salaries range from about 15k to 18k. It's not difficult to move into lower management positions with one year of experience. Lower managers make 18k to 25k. There is a much wider range in upper management. My salary is enough for me to support myself. I don't have a lot left over but I'm comfortable. I'm confident I could find a higher paying job or be promoted before my lifestyle exceeds my income.

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

A : I don't take my allotted vacation days. The reason is that I enjoy working over spending days at home and most of my vacations are spent at home. I don't have enough vacation to take a long trip and it's not worth it to go anywhere for less than five days. I don't want to use all of my vacation at once. I earn more vacation time for each year I work for the company. It will be some time before I have earned enough time to take the vacations I want.

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

A: Higher education is of little importance in retail. Promotions are based on performance an experience. Only senior upper management positions require education. There are some other types of retail positions such as merchandising and logistics that prefer a degree. Life skills are more important. People skills are a must. The abilities to multitask and prioritize are also helpful.

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

A: My advice is to ask a lot of questions during the interview. In one interview the employer told me of all of the physical work and sales goals that I would have to meet and I knew right away the salary would not be worth the stress. Still, there's only so much I can learn during an interview. I don't know what to expect until my first day.

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

A: In five years I will be a store manager. I am responsible for choosing the right employees and developing a team that would meet the store's performance goals.