I’m a college graduate working full time as a sales rep for several years. I don’t like my job and want to be a buyer for a major department store, but I don’t have any retail experience. And I can’t decide whether to work as a sales associate part time or quit my job and work full time. I wouldn’t be guaranteed a buyer position even after I got the needed retail experience. My heart is telling me to quit, but I’m paralyzed with fear.
— T. Goode, Via the Internet
While fear is one of the biggest career-wreckers, another is misinformation. You don’t have to work in retail as a sales associate in order to become a buyer. Research the career path of a buyer. For example, a Macy’s storeline sales and sales associates path includes increasing management roles for work on the sales floor. For a career in merchandising, the entry level is a position as a merchant executive trainee, then assistant buyer, senior assistant buyer, and so forth. Consider a merchandising position in a small scale-store first, and from there build your experience and network. You’ll include strong sales and negotiating skills and an eye for proper placement. With no prior experience, it would be an advantage for you to take courses in retail/fashion merchandising. You can apply for other jobs while you’re in school. Check out the textbook Perry’s Department Store: A Product Development Simulation by Karen M. Guthrie and Rose J. Regni. (Fairchild Books; $72).