From Columbus, OH — 10/22/2008
I worked for Banana Republic as a sales associate and then a manager for several years. I have since gone on to another company, and found that no one puts as much training into their staff as Gap, Inc. When I was there we had an 8 hr class which was then lowered to a 4-5 hour class, the job I am at now requires the new hires to read a workbook and watch a video. That's it. Managers were given an average training, but had to do follow workshops that I really learned a lot from. I felt like the benefits were better than most--they even paid a % if you wanted lasik eye surgery, but there weren't any benefits for PT people. As far as some of the other posters above commenting about mind-numbing tasks, it's retail! What did you expect? You'd be designing new produts, jetting off to NYC? It's folding, selling clothes and credit cards, and straightening. I was always upfront with the people I interviewed that they would have to sell the credit card, and told them not to accept the offer if they were committed to doing it.
I was always mindful of the staff and their schedule needs, but I only allowed 3 request offs a day, and if you were #4, you had to wait until the schedule was posted to see if you were getting it off or not. We had a staff around 40 people, so I always thought it was reasonable. The management staff was told about having a work/life balance, but it was not really enforced. Assistant managers were clocked in, and worked 40 hours, but took lots of work home to finish. Store managers were scheduled 40 hours but worked more like 50, with a lot of pressure. The pay was much better than many retail stores--I made more as an assistant manager than I am making currently as a store manager, but in retail, pay is mostly based on volume versus experience, and I went from a $5 million store to a $1 million store. However, I now have time to go to all of my son's events, without feeling guilty that I wasn't at work.
The company is really good at getting you as a manager to expand your skills and become better, but once you're better, they don't do anything with it. New members of management are hired in, not promoted, so if you want to be a higher manager than what you are now, you have to leave the company, get that higher position, then go back to BR. That goes for all managers--I've seen assistants passed over for store manager to leave and come back a few years later, store managers do it for the district manager job, etc, etc. Often the people who are hired in are not as competent as someone who as already worked there who could be promoted. Most managers do not have a college degree in retail. I found that if I had not gone to college, and instead had worked right out of high school in retail, I would have been seen as a better candidate. Most retail jobs will ask for a degree, but look more favorably if you have 4 years asst. mgr. position versus a fashion degree when interviewing.