Gina Robinson is a McMaster alumnus and a qualified Chartered Accountant with over 20 years experience, and she is also currently the Director of Student Services at McMaster University.
At the 2010 Career Expo “Who’s Hiring” there, she told Lauren that retail is a great industry for students to start their careers in—in fact, that’s where she started hers!
Gina has previously worked for retailers like Sears and Eaton’s and she says she learned a lot from working in the retail industry. She started on the sales floor at Sears and eventually advanced all the way to head office. Gina credits her retail experiences with teaching her all of the necessary skills to be successful at any job because retail is fun, exciting and dynamic.
What is her advice for anybody looking to start a career in retail?
“Don’t be afraid to get on the floor because that’s where you learn about the business… and gain some really valuable skills.”
Many large retailers such as Sears offer training which sees their entry-level hires through 15-18 month career advancement programs (Sears’ is called “Take the Lead”) that involve everything from working as a sales associate, to leadership and teamwork seminars, to working as a team lead, to even more leadership training, and becoming an associate store manager.
Don’t be afraid to give retail a chance—although you may spend some time on the sales floor or as a barista pouring coffee, it likely won’t be for long. “Explore. Take a risk,” Gina says. “Your career path is not likely to be linear and retail is a wonderful opportunity to start because there are so many diverse opportunities in retail.” They can include HR, business, finance, buying and creative, to name just a few.