I did something last week that I never thought I would do again. I started a new job. That’s right. I’m back in the workforce, earning bucks. It’s not full-time and may not even be for a long time, but it is an official job.
A few weeks ago, my local camera store held a job fair. Anyone interested could meet with management and have a chat. I happened to hear about the opportunity and thought, why not. I love talking to people about photography, I love helping people discover something new, and to be truthful, Covid has had such a bad effect on my psyche that getting out into a public space on a regular basis would be good for me.
I talked to the assistant store manager and left not so much a resume as an explanation of why I thought I was a good fit. It helped that most of the folks in the store already knew me – I was a regular customer and club mate of a couple of the staff. What was different about this experience was that there was no pressure, absolutely none. I don’t need to work, I am a gear nerd anyway and, did I mention I love to talk to people about photography? What could be better.
I was hired and started last week, first going through the required safety and company policy training, then being introduced to the sales philosophy and practices. That’s the new bit. I am a sales associate. Getting people to buy things is part of the requirement. But I’m happy to report that pressure to do so is not part of the requirement. We help people make decisions that they are inclined to make anyway. It’s an interesting approach.
Even in this short time, the number of different things I have heard and dealt with has been very interesting. Everything from the young mother who needed a passport photo for her two month old daughter (who was adorable by the way) to the college student looking for a reasonably priced accessory for his video course to the out of town photographer who destroyed his camera and had to get a new one immediately. Did you know that no part of that young mother’s hands/arms/body could be anywhere in the frame for her young child? It was quite the trick supporting the young one without any visible signs of doing so.
My main role is to provide coverage for what we hope will be a busy holiday season. Deals are already advertised, promotions available and rebates await. Not sure what to expect in terms of uptake, but regardless, it will be interesting.
Despite being a gear nerd, offering solid advice on a full line of products is a challenging task, and I’m a little leary of the first request from a brand new potential photographer who might say to me, where do I start? We have experienced staff that can answer that question easily – so I’m not worried.
An even bigger challenge is the fallout of Covid, which has limited both the supply of equipment and the ability to transport it once it is available. Several display cases are empty, with only backorders available. Will customers even bother placing an order? If the pre-orders for the latest cameras are any indication, it might be a quiet season.
But this is just the kind of intellectual stimulation that I really need right now, and I hope to make the most of it before my first work term ends in mid-January. It’s possible that I may be extended beyond that date, but even if not, the ride will have been worth it.
And the employee discount ain’t bad either…