Preparing for My Next Challenge

As I was writing my last post, 4 Categories of Challenges, I began to think about the challenges that I have coming up in my life that I am concerned about overcoming. Normally, if I see a challenge “coming down the pipeline” of my life, I intentionally attempt to develop a plan for overcoming it. However, with one of the many challenges I will be facing within this month, I am having a hard time developing a strategy. Let me explain:

This month, after the close of the semester, I will begin my first management internship with Belk of Conway, Arkansas. I have worked in this store, as a sales associate, since June of 2011, and from my first interview, my management team has been aware that I am not looking to be an associate for the rest of my life. I feel that it is an important role in the retail industry (arguably the most important role), but I want to make a larger impact than what I can do as an associate. So, after much persistence, I have been selected as Belk of Conway’s first management intern for the summer. This is a big deal for me and for the store. For me, I will undoubtably learn things beyond what my course work and other experiences have taught me so far; I also have a potential job riding on my performance during this internship. For the store, I am their first intern. I have a lot to prove and I am setting the stage for potential interns to come. I have the responsibility to serve the customers to the best of my abilities as a member of management.

The first, of many, challenges that I foresee myself having to overcome is the fact that I have built a friendship with most of the associates at my store. I have been there for almost a year and I am very much a relationship person. I enjoy getting to know people, building friendships with people and having a comfortable work environment with my co-workers. My company’s non fraternization policy between management and associates will frown on the continuance of these friendships. As you can see, my first major challenge is breaking those connections to an extent. These people have been a major part of my life for a year and with my new role in the company, I am not sure most will understand.

I have been told many times, “If they are truly your friends, they will understand.”, and while I think and hope this is true, it is still a concern. I feel that often times, people that are not being promoted may fail to see the good in other people’s promotions. While I have been guilty of feeling aggravated due to this same reason, I have learned that my day will come. Patience and persistent are two things that have helped me through waiting for my time.

Dealing with the comments made behind my back (yes, there will be comments) will be a challenge, but I will overcome it. I hope that my coworkers will overcome the challenge they may have when they learn of my promotion. We should all have the same goal within the company: “Providing Relentless Customer Care.” It takes all positions working together to accomplish this goal.

My number one plan for attacking this challenge is to be a servant leader. By this, I particularly mean, I want to lead with the commitment to make others great. I have been led this way so far at Belk as my store manager has managed me to be great. I have noticed that some managers worry that if they breed a subordinate to take their job, they will be out of a job. I fail to see the logic in that mindset; if you are leading others to do your job, you are great, and you will move up as well! That is a natural progression! My manager is breeding me to be able to do his job one day. My manager is being bred to do his boss’s job as well. We are all moving up!

If you have been in a similar situation and would like to share your experiences, I would love to hear them! Either comments here for others to learn from or privately e-mail me @

Thanks for reading!


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