Tuesday, March 4, 2014

On the Job Experience

By Nikki Zaidan

As an employee at a TJ Maxx store in Southbury, Connecticut, Alyssa Hamilton has experienced working with many different people and has challenged herself to become more outgoing in her work and life. Working at a shopping center department store for the past two years has changed her positively; it made her “grow up,” she said, and appreciate how much work people do in retail.

Recalling her first day on the job, reporting for a nine-thirty to five o’clock shift, she even remembered details about her outfit, which included a striped pencil skirt and pumpkin-colored hair clip that matched her blazer “perfectly.”

“I was terrified,” she added. “It was my first job, and there were so many people on that day because it was the grand opening of the store. I was also afraid I would lose my job because the managers said that they had over-hired and that they would need to fire people.”

Upon arriving that day, Hamilton was very apprehensive, especially since there was a huge crowd of people around the store, and no one let her into the building until five minutes before her shift started. “I wanted to make a good impression,” she said, “so I came in early thinking I could get myself situated before I had to work. There were so many people everywhere; it was a bit overwhelming.” She explained how she was the youngest jewelry associate there and how she felt comforted after helping her first customers, who reminded her of her sisters.

Another moment of relief, in the crowded and busy jewelry section, came when a woman approached Hamilton and complimented her on her work. “I was surprised and grateful when this woman came up to me and told me she admired my work ethic; she even asked if I could work for her because she appreciated how I treated the customers.”

Her most memorable moment from her first day was when one of her bosses complimented her on her work. “The head of the jewelry department hugged me and told my manager that I was doing a great job, which made me feel more comfortable in what I was doing.”

In addition to the many customers Hamilton dealt with, she also met people who have greatly influenced her, including a co-worker named Ava. “She is such an interesting person who has helped me a lot,” explained Hamilton, “She escaped from Cuba when she was young, and has earned a Master’s degree in Comparative Literature. Ava has often talked to me about grad school, which helped me to make my own decisions about what I want to do in the future.”

As an English major, who studied at St. Thomas Aquinas College, Hamilton appreciated their talks about English, as well as Ava’s movie and book suggestions. “I see her as my second mother. She really helped me when I needed it, and I am so glad I had the opportunity to get to know her.”

Thinking about her experiences at TJ Maxx, Hamilton said “It’s helpful to me that I am not a judgmental person, and that I am patient, which is very important when you are working with customers. I am also not as shy as I used to be, and feel more comfortable talking to strangers now, which will definitely help me later when I need to network.

“I truly appreciate the experiences I have had while working at TJ Maxx, and these lessons will definitely help me later in life,” she added.

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