My second part to considering job satisfaction is what I originally intended to sit and write about, that first section just kind of evolved into something different! I’ve worked in retail now part and full time since I was 16, so 7 years. Two months ago I made a vow that 2010 will be the last year I ever do so. There’s something I’ve realised that is important for me in the work I might do in the future is that I want to feel like it’s important. Whatever kind of mask you put over the world of retail and what it contributes to society, all it is there to do is make money. I’m sure all those coffee companies like to think they’re business is about making good beverages for people to enjoy, a clothing shop might say something similar about what they produce, but let’s face it, it’s all about the money. Of course you need money for any business to keep afloat, and I find it a shame that money can have such a grip on us all and prevent us from doing the things we want, but such is this life we all know.
A girl I met whilst doing my volunteering at the Wildlife Trust made a point that pretty much sums up what I’m trying to say here. She works at part of the education team there and that particular day she was leading a bug hunt at a special needs school and a friend of mine and myself helped out. Whilst talking about jobs etc. she said ‘The way I see it is that if I had an office job and didn’t turn up one day, the work would still get done, no one would miss me. If I hadn’t have turned up to my job today, none of this would have happened.’ That’s more or less exactly how I feel about my job at Animal. If any one of our members of staff didn’t turn up to work one day, the likelihood is that we’d still make the same amount of money, which is essentially our goal. Why on earth would I want to stay in a job where I’m not needed every day?! Granted yes we’d be understaffed, the work might be a bit more difficult and trying to find someone to fill in might be a bit of a pain but surely these are all just minor blips, it’s not going to threaten the business too much!
Someone I specifically wanted to talk to about this was my manager at Animal, as he’s been in retail for 14 years, so I asked him for some input as the very opposite of how I feel about it all. After being unsuccessful in joining the fire service, and then having aspirations to become an outdoor pursuits instructor, he started working at an outdoor shop just to earn some money whilst he qualified. Lo and behold he’s still in shops to this day. There’s so many people I think that go into retail at 16 just like this and then end up getting comfortable and sticking with it. The one thing my manager has at least done is that he always said that whatever work he did find himself in, he set goals to achieve and always aimed to become higher, and that I do admire. I guess that’s what I’ve found myself doing the past year working in retail is thinking ‘Well I’m here, I may as well learn something and try to do the best job I can’. But I just find it so sad that some people get a bit stuck and then so many years down the line are still there. It doesn’t make sense to me why you wouldn’t get out of it whilst you can and try to do the things you’ve dreamed to do. That’s certainly what I’m attempting; my job at the moment is a means to an end. I don’t know, maybe some people who work in retail do think they’re job is important and I’m just not getting it?!
When I do (eventually) find a job that’s in any shape or form going to be my career, I’d like to think I’m making a difference each day I’m there. Nobody can change the world single-handedly, but I think that you can contribute much more than you realise to the environment around you, and that will eventually have a knock on effect and make a change somewhere, even if it’s just a small one like making someone’s day more bearable. I think the reason why I’ve started writing this is mainly just because I like creating; producing something that I hope comes across as thought provoking. For the minute it’s mainly for myself, and as I do it more I’d like to feel that one day I might get somewhere with it. If I inspire anyone in any way by what I write, that would be one hell of an achievement.