Stepping into the employees’ shoes

By Elana Zeltser

By working full-time jobs over the summer, Taylor Cooper ’13, Nadia Dubovitsky ’12, Nikki Goren ’12 and Gabi Kuhn ’12 gained more than just pocket money: they learned how to be more respectful and conscientious customers.

According to Slate Magazine, the number of teenagers who forgo summer jobs is at an all-time high, yet these students unanimously said viewing their consumer world from the other side of the register is enlightening.

Working anywhere from five to eight hours, five days a week, they said they gained a whole new repertoire of skills and understandings.

“I learned how to make an awesome Ice Blended, but more importantly I really learned how to behave with customers in different situations, and that translates to relationships with all people in life,” Kuhn said of her time at the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf on Ventura Blvd.

Standing on a storeroom floor for an entire workday, as Cooper did in the clothing store Brandy and Melville, was daunting and often painful for her feet, she said. However, her job gave her the chance to see how customers behave and treat the store as they shop, so Cooper could make mental notes for herself for the future.

“I’m definitely going to be very careful to keep everything folded when I go into stores and not make a mess,” Cooper said. “It’s so annoying when customers do that.”

All of the girls had perks and employee discounts, but they all said the best part of their respective work experiences were the people they met on the job. Goren, who was a cupcake associate at Sprinkles Cupcakes, befriended people of different ages who she otherwise might never have encountered.

Dubovitsky, who worked at a family-run ice cream shop, Ice and Cream, had a similar experience.

“The people were so nice and we became a close-knit family, which was very surprising for me,” Dubovitsky said.

As the start of school rapidly approaches, Cooper, Dubovitsky and Goren resigned from their positions. They said they may return during the breaks from school in spring, winter or next summer. Kuhn, however, plans to balance school and her job at the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf where she will work from 3 to 8 p.m. on weekdays in addition to working weekends. She said she hopes to even continue as a barista during college.

“The really great thing about Coffee Bean is that as long as there is one wherever I’m going, I could get transferred really easily, and I would get preference over new people because I have experience,” Kuhn said.

“I liked the feeling of knowing that there was somewhere I had to go and something I had to do,” Goren said. “When I buy things it really is my money that I worked hard for.”