I learned two things from college:
1) Academia sucks
2) Living costs money
To combat the first, I picked a college that was easy (a technical school) with a major I could sleep through (electronic technology). To the second, I got a retail job at Best.
I can’t really tell you a lot about that job, because I honestly don’t remember most of it. I worked in the camera department, back when cameras used film. The 35mm canon pocket-zoom had just come out, and everybody wanted one (zoom! In your pocket!) and so naturally it was my job to upsell people to the giant Sony SLRs that most people couldn’t figure out. A couple anecdotes come to mind, including:
Cameras (which back in the day is where electronics went) also carried word processors (not computers, word processors. This is important later) and the awesome new technology of the future: Laserdisc. We even had a TV (a 30” big-screen) and home theater (2.1) system. Problem was we only had one laser disc to demo it with: “A Chorus Line”.
If you’re familiar with the show, you’ll probably see how this is going to play out. But if not, it’s enough to know that any time we demo’d the thing, cranking up the volume, somehow we always ended up landing on the “TITS AND ASS” number. We were college kids, after all.
The other miracle technology, the “Compact Disc” was not much better, in that we only had a copy of “The Wonder Years” soundtrack. I got really tired of that soundtrack. Really. Really. Tired. For a year and I half, I listened to that CD once every 45 minutes.
Still, it was a job, and it paid, and except for when they cut me down to 4 hours per week (and I thus quit)(and they used this as an excuse to not hire me the following holiday season) it was a good learning experience. Now, as a consultant, I think everyone (in consulting) should work a year or two in retail, because it teaching you customer service (which is a way of saying “how to ignore assholes to get the job done”)
The most important thing, though, was that I learned a lot about Olivetti word processors. This would be important later on.