For many people, their first taste of the working world is in the retail industry.
Whether it’s prepping a banana split at Dairy Queen, ringing customers through at Sobeys or greeting every customer with a smile at Walmart, a position in retail customer service is often the first addition to one’s resume.
However, the retail industry spans far beyond your part-time position on weekends in high school, college or university. Many schools offer post-graduate programs or continuing education courses related to the business of retail and provide real opportunities for long-term career growth within the retail industry.
Whether you’re interested in a management or corporate position, or something more on the front line, there is definitely a program out there to assist you in furthering your career.
The G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education at Ryerson University offers a Certificate in Retail Management, designed for students seeking or currently working a position in retail (which, I might add, is the largest employment sector in Canada). This year-long program has only 2 required courses: Introduction to Retail Management and Retail Consumer Insight. The remaining 4 courses are all electives on a variety of topics such as Entrepreneurship: New Venue Startup, Franchising and Optimizing Retail Service Quality. For those of you who don’t live in Toronto, this program offers both required courses and more than 10 electives through distance education learning.
If you’re more interested in the marketing side of retail, Humber College offers a year-long post-grad program in Marketing Management. This program provides you with all the major marketing skills you’ll need to launch your career, such as product development, deciding pricing and distribution policies, promotional strategies and building brands – all to satisfy the needs of customers. Previous gradates of this program have ended up with careers as Account Executives, Sales Co-ordinators and Assistant Brand Managers with employers such as Hugo Boss, Rogers and Bell Mobility.
Kitchener/Waterloo’s Conestoga College offers a part-time program in Retail Operations, preparing graduates for careers in marketing and sales, inventory control, warehousing and distribution and customer enhancement. This program includes a slew of useful and interesting courses, including Visual Merchandising and Display, which focuses directly on modern storefront operations and the layout and design of product displays. Other courses deal with customer relations, allowing students the chance to analyze the psychology of the customer and develop strategies on how to deal with certain behaviours.
The title of “retail” encompasses an extremely wide and diverse range of topics, from fashion to food and technology to literature. Programs exist which speak to certain areas of the retail industry. For example, Humber College offers a post-grad certificate in Cosmetic Sales and Makeup Artistry, providing students with knowledge and skill not only in makeup application, but also the selling of it. One of the required courses in this program is Retail Cosmetic Sales, which speaks to those seeking retail positions with cosmetic companies by teaching 20-minute makeovers and how to sell specific skin care products. The cosmetic industry is a multi-billion dollar industry, so opportunities for advancement are next to endless.
For those of you who don’t want to fully submerge yourselves in a post-grad program but are still seeking to continue your education, you still have many options. For example, Humber College offers a course simply called “Retailing,” which concentrates on Canada’s marketplace, current retail practices and the emergence of aggressive international retailers on Canada’s horizon. The only prerequisites for this course are the completion of College Writing Skills and Consumer Services.
Therefore, before you write off a position in retail as something with little room for career advancement, check out your options for further education in the industry. Your after-school position at Wendy’s in high school may have jump-started far more than you thought!
Visit TalentEgg’s Retail Career Guide for eggs-clusive student and entry level Retail jobs plus articles and videos to help you hatch your career in the Retail industry.