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Ordinary People Taking Action
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That first paying job. It’s exciting and scary, and so often, it begins to shape our attitudes around work. As a sophomore in high school, I took my first job as a stockperson for Nordstrom. I remember it clearly. My job was to clean out the dressing rooms, hang or fold all the clothes, and restock the items on the sales floor. My department, referred to as “Brass Plum”, sold clothing for teenage girls. It placed no limits on the number of items brought into the dressing room, a policy our customers seemed acutely aware of. It was not uncommon for me to face twenty, thirty or more clothing items, crumpled on the dressing room floor. “Oh, just leave them, someone else will put them away,” I’d hear the girls giggle. They were right, someone else would. And that someone else was me.
I worked hard in this job. I quickly realized that stocking dressing rooms was not for me, so I wanted nothing more than to prove that I could be a cashier, and then a salesperson. I wanted to advance so badly for two reasons. One, it would provide more customer interaction. Two, it was a way to contribute more to a company I loved working for.
I felt that I truly mattered. As my new employee orientation made clear, people within Nordstrom cared deeply about the employees – at all levels. My onboarding taught me the following:
Working for a company that truly cared about their employees made a huge impact on me. I realized from an early stage in my career that if you put the people first, everything else falls into place.
I would spend six more years working summers for Nordstrom through my senior year of college. I worked my way up to cashier and then salesperson. I made more money than most of my friends did during their summer jobs because at Nordstrom, salespeople earn commission. As a college student, eager for money, this gave me great motivation to sell a lot of clothes. I would learn another important lesson: work hard and you’ll be rewarded. Rewards came not only in the form of promotions and an increased paycheck, but more importantly, as confidence and trust in my ability to succeed.
When I graduated college, I needed an internship to receive my degree. My first call was to a manager I knew at Nordstrom to see if they’d offer me a marketing internship. They said yes. Of course, they said yes. Nordstrom truly put all their employees first and, within reason, would do everything they could to support them. For two years post college, I was the department manager for Brass Plum in two different stores. My history with this company spanned eight years, two departments, and five different locations. One highlight was working the grand opening of the current flagship store downtown Seattle. Like my childhood phone number, my employee number is forever memorized: 2057909.
I met several friends through my years at Nordstrom, even one who later became the matron of honor at my wedding. Maybe more importantly, I learned many of my career life lessons through this company.
I am fortunate to have worked with some amazing people in some really awesome companies, but hands down, Nordstrom remains at the top of my list.
What kind of impact are you having on your employees?
Is your company the one that will be forever sketched in the memory of employees – positive memories?
*Photo credit: flicker.com Nordstrom Southcenter