Escaping from Retail

Mai-KeroMai-Kero Registered User regular
A couple years into higher education, I started working for a major retailer to cover rent and books while I worked toward a degree that would lead me into teaching. A couple years into it, I, for various reasons, dropped out of school and moved from Ohio to Boston with a few friends, and got promoted over the phone to a position in store management here. I'm 27 now, and trying to decide if this is really what I want to do for a career.

I generally enjoy most aspects of the job, and love the parts that involve training people, making plans that my team carries out, and educating customers on what we sell. I also enjoy the background financial work; managing labor and resources and how every small piece impacts a company financially. For the first two years here, I also had two great bosses that helped me develop what I think are some solid leadership skills, and were also a ton of fun to work for. After my last move, I landed at a store that I was able to make some hugely positive impacts on, but did so in a way that was pretty much the opposite of how my direct manager operates. After doing some research, it seems like my previous bosses were the exception in this line of work, which isn't something I considered before. I'm at a spot now where I'm wondering if I'm in the right company, or even the right industry, because even if I continue on, get promoted a few more times, and end up in this line of work permanently, I'll be working alongside people that I fundamentally disagree with on a lot of issues. There are, of course, some other concerns; I work crazy random hours right now, which I've personally seen drive a few people out of the career here that

My problem now is that I don't know where else I would go that could sustain me financially. I'm making $75k~ right now, which seems like a tremendous salary for someone that grew up in a lower-middle class environment. I'm also trying to pay off student loans, and my company has a very solid 401k match. I want to finish my degree at some point, but my only real option there is online coursework due to the randomness of my schedule. I'm very interested in IT, as I've got a few friends that work in the field, but I don't know how I could land something without a finished degree or prior experience. I ran an in-store computer repair department for two years, but teaching people how to remove viruses doesn't seem like the kind of experience that would do me any favors with a normal job. I can't really afford to start off at a wage dramatically lower that I'm making now, but I also don't want to continue on in retail just because it pays (relatively) well. I feel like I'm not applying myself most of the time, and while I usually have fun at work, it's hard to avoid feeling a little depressed that I'm phoning it in and will eventually turn into the people above me that I can't stand.

Has anyone else run into a situation like this before? I'm trying to find some kind of exit strategy, but I can't decide if it's worth it or if I just continue on here, being ambivalent at best about my career, or suck it up and potentially take a pay cut to start off fresh in something I might enjoy a lot more.

Posts

  • Bendery It Like BeckhamBendery It Like Beckham Hopeless Registered User regular
    Get some certs, you have 2 years of help Desk work if you managed what I think you managed

  • Mai-KeroMai-Kero Registered User regular
    Get some certs, you have 2 years of help Desk work if you managed what I think you managed

    I worked there for a year before I took over, too. Will people actually hire someone that has certs but no degree?

  • bsjezzbsjezz Registered User regular
    i went from retail to teaching. i think it's a great primer. if you can deal with customers, you can deal with kids. you'll probably enjoy it.

    the way i did it was i quit on the spur of the moment with no plan but to get out of a situation that was increasingly stagnant. the literal weekend after i realised immediately that i'd always wanted to teach and that's what i had to start. sometimes you need to close a door before another one opens, right? luckily i had the support of my loaded partner to put me through the diploma

    in your case i'd start hacking away at the degree - by distance, night classes, part-time, whatever. you could even step down with your responsibilities, right?

    there's nothing wrong with sticking in retail. hell, my dad's done it his whole life. i'd go back before i'd go back to an office. but there's also no point living a life unchallenged. set to it.

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  • schussschuss Registered User regular
    First of all - see if your company will pay for night classes or online courses. In the Boston area you have a shit ton of universities, many with night programs if you generally work days. From there - you can go into white collar work or anything else really. Retail is a great foundational set of skills that will serve you throughout any career.

  • LostNinjaLostNinja Registered User regular
    Your retail experience, esspecially management experience, will actually really help you while looking for other jobs due to all of the various transferable skills you gain. You just have to know how to sell it. I worked retail for 10 years before finding my current job, and according to my bosses, it was my management experience and people skills gained from years of customer service that clinched it for me.

    Definitely look into online classes, it is possible to balance them out with the hectic hours you end up working in retail as long as you can manage your time well, which I assume you can. My fiancé is currently doing the same thing, working as an assistant manager for a retailer, as well as finishing her degree online. Just be careful not to overburden yourself, maybe start with just a couple of classes and and add more the following semester if you think you can.

  • ceresceres When the last moon is cast over the last star of morning And the future has past without even a last desperate warningRegistered User, Moderator mod
    There are tonnnns of things you can manage that aren't retail. It sounds like you enjoy the management aspect the most of everything you do, and there are companies that will have management philosophies that will line up better with yours. Why not tackle that aspect directly, and go for a better management position with a different company?

    And it seems like all is dying, and would leave the world to mourn
    tynic
  • Mai-KeroMai-Kero Registered User regular
    Thanks for the advice, everyone. I think I'm going to try and stick with the current gig while I do some online classes; my employer offers decent tuition reimbursement regardless of what degree I'm pursuing which is nice. I'm still trying to decide on going into a different company for the same sort of role like Ceres suggested, or going into IT. I'm actually quite torn on which route I want to pursue but the current company is going to pay for it either way, so I've got that going for me, which is nice.

  • TofystedethTofystedeth veni, veneri, vamoosi Registered User regular
    edited December 2015
    I would second the recommendation to stick with management. The salary you're currently making is really solid (depending on where you live) and jumping to an entirely different field will knock you down a few pegs.
    I also enjoy the background financial work; managing labor and resources and how every small piece impacts a company financially.
    Have you looked into getting Project Management certification? That sounds like something you'd might enjoy, and businesses with large IT departments or Application Development teams are frequently looking for PMs. And a PM who actually knows something about what the product is and the tech used to create/implement is always a plus over someone who just knows projects.

    Tofystedeth on
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  • BloodycowBloodycow Registered User regular
    edited December 2015
    I know from a government point of view the PM's (Project/Product Managers) make really good money and they have to micro manage everything. Which seems like something you would enjoy. There are degree's and certification's that will get you in the door.

    Crap @Tofystedeth beat me!

    Bloodycow on
    " I am a warrior, so that my son may be a merchant, so that his son may be a poet.”
    ― John Quincy Adams
  • schussschuss Registered User regular
    Bloodycow wrote: »
    I know from a government point of view the PM's (Project/Product Managers) make really good money and they have to micro manage everything. Which seems like something you would enjoy. There are degree's and certification's that will get you in the door.

    Crap @Tofystedeth beat me!

    Yep, look up PMI's certifications. Without project work, likely the farthest you can go is a CAPM (Certified Associates in Project Management), but that should get a foot in the door as it's the largely same material as the PMP (Project Management Professional) without the work experience component.

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