When you balance a part-time job during the school year, every summer you have to make a decision as to whether you want to keep working there. This decision is even harder when your part-time job isn’t related to your career, especially when you love your job.
Jillian Jackson shares how she found her perfect job at Madewell, why she keeps coming back every summer, and the best style secret she’s learned from the last two years!
Name: Jillian Jackson
Job Title: Sales Associate at Madewell
Location: Jacksonville, FL
College: Vanderbilt University
Year: Rising Senior
What are you doing this summer?
This is the third summer I’ll be working as a sales associate at Madewell in my hometown of Jacksonville, Florida. During the rest of the year I also work for the company in Nashville, Tennessee, where my school is located – I actually just celebrated my 2 year anniversary with the company!
If you’ve never heard of it, Madewell is a women’s clothing company that’s affiliated with J.Crew. We’re known for top-notch denim, gorgeous leather bags, and cool and classic basics like tees, button-downs, shoes, and more. I love that Madewell truly seeks to make every woman feel comfortable in their own skin with a little help from some kick-ass clothes.
What do you want to be when you grow up?
I plan to pursue a master’s degree in counseling after I graduate from undergrad. I’m not sure exactly what area of the field, but I’m leaning towards mental health counseling since it’s very close to my heart. The great thing about a psychology degree is that it opens the door for all kinds of opportunities – from clinical work, to research, to counseling, to life-coaching. The dream is to one day have my own private practice doing counseling for those from all walks of life and spiritual backgrounds.
How did you get your internship?
As I mentioned before, this is actually my third summer working the same part-time retail job, so my job search was a little atypical. Towards the end of the school year, I work closely with the management of my store in Nashville to facilitate an internal company transfer to the store back home in Jacksonville. It definitely helps to keep in touch with the management back home as well, just to make sure the process goes as smoothly as possible.
What do you wish you had known during your internship search?
When I began my job search, I had had a few bad experiences with internships and part-time jobs in the past. I wanted to make sure my next job was going to be something I was passionate about on some level or I knew I wouldn’t dread going to work every day.
Since I loved Madewell’s clothes already, I figured it might be a good place to apply for a job – let’s just say it wasn’t NOT for the discount… Honestly, I think I got really lucky. I’ve heard horror stories from friends who worked other retail jobs, but my experience was completely painless (and dare I say enjoyable).
Ask about how employees get along, what the company culture is like, what exactly they’re expecting from you as a potential employee.
For those whose stories won’t be like mine (after all, how often do things just fall right into place?), I would ask a ton of questions during your interview. Really feel out the job and make sure it’s something you’d be completely comfortable doing. I don’t know about you, but if I’m not really into something, I just don’t want to do it. Like, AT ALL. Ask about how employees get along, what the company culture is like, what exactly they’re expecting from you as a potential employee. Are the hours regular or do they require staying late every once in a while? Are there opportunities to move up in the company? Do interns often come back and work full-time after graduation? You get the idea.
What does a day in the life look like?
As a retail employee, my hours are suuuuper different from day to day. A shift can range from 4 hours to 8 or 9, and I need to be prepared for whatever my managers, fellow associates, or customers will throw at me that day.
There is a dress code, but honestly I love having it. Since starting my job I have developed way better style, all thanks to a simple trick called the “Third Piece Rule.” Basically, if an outfit consists of just a tee shirt and jeans (pieces 1 and 2), it’s not quite elevated enough. Add a third piece! This can be a necklace, bandana (so hot right now), jacket, unbuttoned chambray shirt, the sky’s the limit. I encourage everyone to use that tip because it truly makes you feel more polished, even if you’re just headed to class or to run errands.
Though my shifts are all really different, the one part of my job that’s constant is my role as a customer service associate. Sometimes I’m sorting clothes in the back room, others I’m vacuuming fitting rooms, still others I’m working behind the cash register, but when a customer needs something, I drop everything and see what I can do to help them. At Madewell, customer service is our number one priority, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. How else are we supposed to make our customer find the outfit to make her feel like the confident, radiant woman that she is?!
How has this job changed what you see yourself doing in the future?
I’ll be straight with you: This job is not what I want to do with my life. At all. But I have learned invaluable things from working here for the past 2 years. I can honestly say that I value great customer service now more than ever, and I definitely notice its absence.
There is nothing more powerful than making people feel welcome and loved
Simply being kind to a customer and doing your best to help them get what they need can turn their entire day around. After all, that’s our job! I want to bring that spirit of hospitality and kindness with me to my future counseling job, because there is nothing more powerful than making people feel welcome and loved.
You can follow Jillian on Instagram @jill.jack_