Career Advice

October 10, 2008

Heather Nelson

Heather Nelson, Business owner

Now: Business owner

Then: Cashier at Nordstrom

Current position: As owner of Champion Assistants in Kirkland, I help business owners implement sales and marketing strategies. We manage online shopping carts, Web design, and localization for internationally minded businesses.

First job: I was hired at the store in Redondo Beach, Calif., as a cashier for their sales and busy shopping seasons, like the December holidays. I started at 14 — I needed to get special permissions to work at that age — and stayed for two years.

Pay: $5.25 per hour and a discount on clothes.

How I got the job: Nordstrom had a modeling program for preteens to learn about composure, presentation and self-confidence. I participated for a little while and was eventually asked if I was interested in working for them.

What I learned: I learned how to balance a cash register, how to take inventory and the effort that goes on behind the scenes before the doors open up. Most important, I learned about Nordstrom's customer policy and how to work with all kinds of people. Sales at Nordstrom are a crazy time, yet I understood that even when things are hectic and customers are frantically looking for bargains, it's important to keep the overriding business philosophy in mind and not get caught up in the storm.

Want to tell us about your first job? E-mail jobmarket@seattletimes.com

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2 Comments

Lynne on November 2, 2008 11:43 AM | Reply

nice picture. Hope the business is going well. It takes at least three years to get a good business off the ground, I hear.

Lynne

Raul Rodriguez on November 13, 2008 1:44 PM | Reply

Customer service is what distinguishes the most profitable companies of Wall Street from the mom-and-pops of Main Street. During the boom phase of each economic cycle, customer service too often takes back seat to the mania of expansion. But when the economy inevitably cools, it's the companies which remember their customers that survive. Customer service is not a BandAid, though. It can't be an afterthought. It's either an integral part of an organization's culture, the credo of corporate vision lived and breathed by every employee from the CEO down... or it's not. Especially today, it is reassuring to be reminded that the American Dream is alive and well, and that with focus on clients rather than just on the balance sheet, an individual can "graduate" from a job as a cashier to become a succesful small business owner.

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