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If you love baking (or eating cake), maybe you'll find your calling in a retail bakery! We talked with a bakery assistant to find out what it's like - so enjoy:

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: My current job title is retail bakery associate. I have been in the business for almost ten years and I still love every aspect of the job.

Q: Would you describe the things you do on a typical day? Are there any common misunderstandings you want to correct about what you do?

A: On a typical day I get up very early to go to work. It has been said that a retail environment never sleeps and in the case of retail bakery, that is very true. My hours are scheduled around the direct flow of customers because of the fact that customers expect to see the product on the shelf when they arrive early in the morning. My usual tasks when I arrive include preparing donuts, cakes, and bread. This involves cooking and decorating, which I find enjoyable. It is a common misunderstanding among the public that retail bakery is nothing like a traditional hometown bakery. The food still has to be prepared and ready. The cakes still have to be attractive and creative. There may not be as much time to focus on the details; however, the work is basically the same.

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: On a scale of 1 to 10, I suppose i would rate my job satisfaction at about a 7. In order to improve this rating, I would be allowed to focus more on the creative aspects of my job. In my current position there is just not enough time to be as creative as I would like to be. Its all about getting things prepared and ready, which I completely understand. However, I also know that creativity and talent also attracts customers on a daily basis.

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: I cannot really say that this job moves my heart. The only thing that does give me satisfaction is preparing food for others. This is a lifelong passion and I enjoy it no matter where I perform this task. I do however feel as if I have found my calling in bakery business. Preparing food that is delicious to look at and to eat is a sweet spot in my life.

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

A:I suppose that readers should know that retail bakery was never my plan. This makes my situation unique because the majority of people who work in a retail bakery, planned to be there or aspired to working in that area. I, on the other hand, arrived completely by accident after being hired for a store remodel project.

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 was transferred to the retail bakery area of my store after the remodel process was over and I was no longer needed for my intended purpose. This position just happened to be open and I figured I would give it a shot. If I could have done it differently, I would not change a thing because I now know that the retail bakery is the position that I was best suited for.

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

A: The thing I learned the hard way about my current position is the fact that just because I love all things about the bakery, does not mean that I should be a retail bakery *manager*. After several years of enjoying my work in the retail bakery, I decided that the management position would be good for me. After three years of pushing sales, counting inventory, and making schedules, I discovered that I was much happier in my old hands-on position and stepped down. I am not a numbers and sales kind of person. I like to create and prepare food for people to enjoy.

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

A: The most important thing that I have learned outside of school about the working world is that everyone is out for number one. You cannot rely on others to help you find your way because they are too busy making their own path.

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

A:The strangest thing that ever happened to me in this job was realizing that bakery was so interesting to me. I never knew that I was interested in this type of work until I arrived.

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:I get up and go to work each day because I know that it has to be done to get by. If I did not enjoy my position this would be much harder. One thing that really makes me feel good is the fact that I can go to work and prepare items that people will thoroughly enjoy. I am proud of that fact and take pride in doing so.

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

A: I do face challenges on a daily basis. It is a challenge to prepare things in time for the customers. The morning rush makes me want to pull my hair out some days but the grateful customer can make everything worthwhile.

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

A: My job is not at all that stressful. Sure, there are days when you just want to crawl in a hole away from all of the rude and hateful people that you have faced. It is inevitable when you work in retail or any other job that involves working with the public constantly. However, most days are good. Maintaining a healthy work-life balance is all about knowing your limitations and leaving your work problems at work.

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

A:Retail positions do not typically pay a great deal. That is unless you do go into a management position. I make about $25,000 a year. I live within my means and this combined with my wife's income provides a decent living for my family. However, you have to consider that I have been working toward this salary for the last ten years. I truly feel as if I should be paid more for the time and determination that I put into my work.

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

A: Because of the span of time I have been with the company, I have three weeks of vacation time to enjoy each year. I feel like it is a fair amount of time for vacation but I would love to be at home more.

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

A:In order to get hired in the retail field you do not really have to have an extravagant education. A high school diploma or GED is about all that is required. That is unless you are considering a management position.

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

A:I would forewarn them that retail is not for everyone.

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

A: I would have to say, if I could write my own ticket, in five years I would be working in a traditional hometown bakery. I long for the time that is given to be creative and individualistic in those places and that is what I would be most happy doing.