Just over four years ago, Eliza Swainson left school intent on earning some money to help fund her study and gain entry into the NZ police force. Her plan fell into place over summer when she scored a job as a part-time check-out operator at her local Mitre 10 Mega Hamilton store.
Then a completely different option came long. An offer of a full time position with New Zealand’s popular DIY retailer where she could gain experience across the business plus the opportunity to upskill and achieve qualifications on the job, was too tantalising to turn down.
Eliza exchanged the prospect of moving up the ranks of the police force, and began building a full-on career in the dynamic world of retail.
Today, she holds a New Zealand Certificate in Retail Level 2 and is working towards her Level 3 qualification. In addition, having completed 18 months on-job training, the creative 22-year-old relishes the responsibility of being a kitchen designer at Mitre 10 Mega Hamilton.
To top things off, Eliza was one of three finalists up for the coveted ServiceIQ Retail Professional of the Year award at the national Top Shop Retail Awards in 2014.
“It’s definitely been worth it,” says Eliza. “I decided to stick with my job at Mitre 10 Mega Hamilton because I was gaining skills and qualifications, and it felt really good to be moving up the ranks.”
Quality on-job training, which includes gaining a good working knowledge of the retail industry’s many rules and regulations, is the benchmark for her personal and professional success, says Eliza.
“It’s another step up the ladder and what you need to do to progress further into management. Training has really helped reinforce processes, and learn about all the different laws which is something that everyone in retail needs to know. It can cost a lot if you don’t, especially when you’re working with kitchens. If you’re not extremely careful and clearly explain every little design detail to customers, it could turn out to be a very expensive kitchen.”
Retail offers a huge range of careers, from customer service and merchandising through to product buying, supervisor roles, marketing and senior management.
Eliza enjoys the challenge of coming up with design solutions for customers who are renovating or building a brand new kitchen.
“I didn’t realise there are so many opportunities in retail. As a kitchen designer, what you are doing is not an ordinary sale. You are creating a room in somebody’s house that they have to be able to work in easily every day and for many years to come.”
Eliza has experience in many departments across the store. But working in kitchens feels unique because she works one-on-one to develop great relationships with customers over a period of time.
“When their kitchen is finished, they bring you photos of it they are so happy,” says Eliza.