Shortly after my future billionaire best friend, Casey, left Austin after visiting for ten days it got me thinking: I should be making more money. After all, I do have a college degree. I know it would be pretty rare for me to find a job like Casey where I make a million dollars a day (again, I may be rounding up just a tad) but still, I know that I am definitely worth more than an $11/hour coffee shop job.
So, I set out to the internet to begin once again, for what felt like the millionth time, the bitch of job hunting. After changing jobs just about every few months I have kinda become an expert at the process. I could spot a pyramid scheme from a mile away and have read about a hundred different job descriptions that all simply boil down to “door-to-door sales.”
Through all this constant searching I remembered back to when I had the genius idea of moving to Chicago. This was about a year ago and when I was there I had a job interview with AT&T for a retail sales position. Maybe it was fate or maybe it was my reluctance to prepare for the interview but whatever the case may be in the end I didn’t end up getting the the job (obviously; that’s why I’m living in Austin). Anyhow, the reason I’m mentioning this is because the reason I applied for the position in the first place was because of their high pay scale (around $45,000 annually after commission) and because I knew I would do well since I did the same thing for Sprint throughout college.
I decided to give the job another shot. So I hopped on my computer and sent out one final application followed by a mind numbing assessment provided by the company and within a few days I got a call to come in for a in person interview at their corporate office.
I took the hour long metro bus ride down to South Austin and walked into AT&T’s corporate office like I owned the place. Having had the interview before I knew every question they would be asking especially since corporate structured interviews never change much. I cam prepared and had the perfect answer for every question loaded up. I stepped into the lobby and took a seat with a few other guys who were waiting to interview for the same job. Out of all of them I was the only one wearing a suit, another point for me.
Once I finally got called in the interview came with ease. The first thing the interviewer noticed on my resume was that I donated my hair to cancer patients which led into me asking if they had certain requirements for hair length since I was planning on growing it out again. When she explained that the company recently allowed long hair and visible tattoos it made me want the job even more. She asked me about my past jobs and how I dealt with difficult customers and blah blah blah pretty much all the standard questions for any retail position.
Towards the end of the interview I had a pretty good feeling that I got the job because she started giving me pointers on what to say for the second round interview with the store manager.
The next day I got a call informing me that I would be going on to the second round.
The following day headed downtown to the store I was applying for to meet with the manager. Instantly after entering I knew I would enjoy working here. It was such a laid back environment. Everyone was wearing jeans, sneakers, and their company shirts were simply t-shirts with an AT&T logo on them. I was informed the manager was on a call so I relaxed on a couch and watched The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air while I waited for him to come out.
This interview was very informal; it honestly felt like I already had the job. He basically just gave me a run down on the way he runs his store, scheduling, the store hours and then answered any questions I had.
A few days later I received another phone call informing me that I got the job. I was absolutely ecstatic. FINALLY, I would be working for a company that would actually be paying me a wage that I deserve. My base rate would be $13/hour plus my generous monthly commission checks coming in around $1,500 which, if you do the math, would bring me in around $45,000 a year before taxes. From what the lady told me in the interview is that it is fairly easy to hit your goal each month and I should aim to exceed my goal to really bring in the big bucks. She informed me that there’s some employees that rake in over $70,000 a year which is pretty unheard of for a retail gig.
Before I could hit the floor and start making the big bucks I had to go through a month of corporate training. I spent 2 days a week in a classroom learning about every aspect of the company and every detail of every plan they offered. Then, I spent the remaining three days of the work week in my assigned store doing online training modules as well as a little bit of job shadowing.
Not gonna lie, this was one of the worst month’s of my life. Classroom training was absolutely miserable. Myself along with 6 other students sat in a windowless room enduring 8 hours of lecturing each day. Maybe it was due to my ADHD or maybe it was due to the boring subject matter but whatever the case may be I COULD NOT stay focused to save my life. Every time the instructor called on me I was like a deer caught in the headlights. Shit! What did she say? Luckily my brain was able to dig far enough back into my subconscious to come up with some B.S. answer that sounded somewhat acceptable. This went on all day everyday.
The remaining three days of weekly training, spent in the store, were a tad bit better. I sat in the back break room, windowless as well, in a computer chair tucked away in a corner between a desk and some storage shelving for 8 hours a day. Rather than listening to constant lecturing I, instead, had to review countless power-points completed with end of lesson quizzes. The power-points were just as monotonous as class. The only upside was that I was able to put headphones in and zone out to some music while I mindlessly clicked through the endless slides that sat before me.
To be honest, I didn’t know if I was going to make it through. About two weeks in, one of the students in my training class dropped out to take on another job. At the time, I wasn’t too far behind him. I began researching other job options trying to find something around the same pay rate. It was much harder than I thought. Since everybody and their brother has a college degree nowadays most employers ask for an amount of work experience so great that I would have needed to start working when I was about ten.
I told myself I would stick it out a little bit longer, after all for the first couple months I would be getting paid full commission checks since I would be new. So, for that alone, it would be worth it.
Three weeks into training another student left for a different job. Yes, it was that bad. I’m sure at one time the training for this job was fairly simple but since it’s a corporation they need to make sure they cover their ass in every possible scenario. Which means we had to learn about all the policies and procedures on top of all the other company information. It literally sucked the soul out of you.
On the Floor
Finally, after four weeks of grueling mind numbing training I would be able to get some hands on experience during my week of on the floor training. Starting out I felt completely lost. It felt as if I didn’t learn a thing from training. Concerned, I confronted a few co-workers about my lack of knowledge. They all came back with the same response: “yeah training doesn’t teach you anything. It’s just a waste of everyone’s time.”
Okay. So that pretty much confirmed it. It’s not that I had trouble paying attention or that I wasn’t able to comprehend the piles of information. My lack of AT&T knowledge was simply because training was completely useless.
Also, working at the store is an ENTIRELY different universe in itself. It’s actually fun. Everyone is very relaxed, easy to joke around with and very willing to help. Even the managers are laid back and make sure everyone is having a good time (while still keeping the store under control, of course).
After my week of shadowing I was definitely happy I decided to stick it out. This job was gonna be easy. Sure, it’s still retail sales which is soul sucking in itself. But this is Austin, so everyone you meet usually has an interesting story to share. And, since it’s AT&T, which is one of the more expensive cell phone companies, the customers tend to be more established and professional rather than being ignorant and cheap like what I had to deal with when I worked for Sprint back in college.
Last week was my first week flying solo and I think I didn’t do half bad. I still have a million questions but as I mentioned before, the rest of the staff are extremely willing to help out.
In short, I have a feeling I will be at this job for a little while. Well…at least that’s what I say now. Anyone who knows me knows that my life plans change just about every hour, so we will see what happens…