What I Learned Working Two Summers at Target

I recently finished my last day working at Target. I was a cashier, which means that I spent most of my eight-hour shifts on my feet, talking with guests and ensuring that their check-out experience was pleasant. I reported to my supervisors, coordinated with the other cashiers in the front lanes, and zoned the items in the front. I bagged items, talked about the Redcard, and made connections with the guests.

It was a straightforward job, and one that I applied for the summer during my senior year of high school as a means of income. I was simply looking for a place to earn extra cash for college. But I ended up developing a lot of valuable skills, gaining self-confidence, and learning simply what it means to be employed by a company. It was bittersweet clocking out for the last time and saying goodbye to my first job.

While the technical skills of the job were relatively simple — working the register, removing security tags, etc. — it was the sales aspect of the job that challenged me. As cashiers, we were trained to educate each guest that came through the front lanes about the Redcard, which was the credit or debit card that earned a guest 5% off on their purchases at Target. It was an integral part of the job, and its importance was stressed to me from the first day I started as a cashier.

Last year, the summer after my senior year of high school, I was shy. I had struggled a lot with my self-confidence and self-esteem during high school and that translated into my job, so much so that my supervisor actually talked to me about working on being confident. She told me that she knew I was aware of all the necessary information, but it was more about learning to be comfortable in presenting that information to guests.

That’s part of why I love writing so much. For me, writing makes articulation easier by allowing you to mull over your word choice and consider how it comes across before putting those words out for others to read. But a large part of being successful in any aspect of your life is learning how to be an eloquent public speaker and make lasting impressions on people face-to-face. That’s why if I had to say that I got anything out of being a cashier at Target, it would be learning how to be friendly, impressionable, and confident in order to drive the conversation towards selling the Redcard.

Another important aspect of the job was coordinating with other cashiers as well as the supervisors. Working in retail or any other job where you have to interact with a lot of different people, you oftentimes have guests who have problems that require your assistance. In the first few months of my job, I was calling over a supervisor several times during a shift to help me out. Of course, asking for help when you are new is to be expected and is something that you should not be afraid to do. But part of growing in my job was learning how to handle difficult situations on my own. Being knowledgeable of store policies and being able to think quickly on my feet were part of being proactive in my role as a colleague and employee at Target.

Working a first job is always a learning experience, and working at Target from the ages of 17 to 19 was a huge period of growth for me. I wholeheartedly believe that you truly only do gain what you put into any experience. It could have been a mundane job with shifts that dragged by each day, but I put my best into my job as a cashier and as a result attained valuable skills and made lasting connections with other employees that have set me up for success in the future. I highly encourage everyone to approach their own jobs with the same mindset as it allows you to turn any professional working experience into a growing experience.

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