Working in retail instills valuable traits in college students

As the holiday season fast approaches, any student working in retail knows the perils of trying to keep up with the pace of customer and managerial demands. Some say the job is easy, people working these jobs know better.

However, working in retail instills important values in college students by exposing them to real life social experiences that will carry them throughout the rest of their lives. These values are patience, respect, and endurance.

The core lessons learned working retail while in college are a result of being plowed with human interaction. You talk to customers, coworkers, managers, and the occasional executive. You are trained to present yourself in a professional way in every circumstance.

Having experience working with a diverse group of personalities makes you a competitive candidate for future employers. Working in retail trains you to act like a proper and mannerly person despite being faced with preposterous situations daily.

This is a testament to your interpersonal and problem solving skills which is an asset to most jobs out there. For students, it’s best to work at it now instead of trial and error after graduation.

Retail employees are arguably the most admirable because their job is to smile through everything, and that sense of composure is valuable. Perfecting this trait in retail can ultimately carry over into the career path of your choice.

Some might say that working retail in college poses no real benefit. Being paid minimum wage while being forced to put up with rude customers, demeaning managers and shady coworkers might sound more stressful than beneficial.

According to, the highest retail wage averages around $12 per hour. Why would I put myself through such unappreciated labor for this measly amount? I could be doing an internship, volunteer work, or focusing on school.

This is true, but retail pushes your social skills into overdrive. Walking up to greet strangers and engaging in conversation you could care less about, with a paycheck as incentive, forces even introverts to develop social skills.

San Francisco voters rallied Nov. 4 to make a $15 per hour wage a reality by 2018. This is a big step in the workforce for jobs in and out of retail.

Maybe $10.74 an hour isn’t worth the struggle, but $15 might be just what you need to stick with the retail machine.

In any case, minimum wage isn’t the only incentive for college students to work in retail. You work there to get a paycheck, but it goes beyond the money. It’s about the experience.

When you leave the world of retail, you have stories of the many times you were faced with an obstacle and overcame it, which is a popular interview topic. Employers in your field want to know about you and working retail reveals what type of person you are based on your social interactions.

Anything you do in college should be relevant to your future goals. If developing yourself and being a competitive job candidate is part of that plan, you’ll have to build your experience somehow.