The Durham University Retail internship starts off as a flood of information. It is exciting being told all the things you will eventually know how to do like it is second nature (even though feels anything BUT natural at the moment).
People talk at you about things you hope you understand but aren’t quite sure yet. So all you can do is desperately smile and nod your head looking serious (like you can do this job and you’re amazingly ‘on-it’ and capable) but also friendly (making sure that people will think you are 1) a normal human being who does more with their life than just worry about work and 2) incredibly fun and simply the coolest cat there ever was).
This does result in a rather strange facial expression, but just stick with it. It’s what I have been doing and the retail team here at the Mountjoy Centre have been more welcoming than I could have hoped for. This is most likely down to them being a very close, supportive team, full of enthusiasm and passion for providing fantastic service but I like to think my funny face had something to do with it… though, on second thoughts, maybe not.
Alongside the strange face and the constant nodding, you need three words to help you along your way. To let people know you are absorbing information better than a sponge absorbs water you can’t use words like ‘Alright’, ‘What?’ and ‘Huh?’ You must appear relaxed and confident with everything you are told, being sure not to repeat any one word more than 4 times in a conversation.
However, you can’t just use any three words.
Words you thought you knew the meaning of before your life as a tax paying member of society suddenly mean something completely different. For example: ‘Symphony’ - used to mean:
a) an elaborate instrumental composition in three or more movements, similar in form to a sonata but written for an orchestra and usually of far grander proportions and more varied elements.
b) A harmony of sounds (source: Dictionary.com)
but it has now become a way to check the sales reports of Durham University outlets. Who knew? Even a word such as ‘Oracle’, which conjures up images of Neo and The Matrix, has taken on a new life as an aid to raising invoices. Life will never be the same.
No. The three words you need are ‘Yeah’, ‘Okay’ and ‘Cool’.
‘Does that make sense?’ – ‘Yeah!’
‘We use this code for internal orders.’ - ‘Cool’
‘You have to use this fire exit in case of emergency.’ - ‘Okay’
‘There is a risk of being attacked when handling cash so a panic alarm must be worn around your neck, you know… just in case.’ - ‘WHAT!?’
Wish me luck.
2014 - 15 Durham University Retail Office Intern
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