“I was slightly embarrassed to be seen in a red shirt”

The Warehouse Red Shirts in Schools programme is designed to bridge the gap between school and work, which can be a challenge for many high school students. It offers students a chance to get valuable work experience in retail and help guide them during their transition from school to a career. Students participating in the programme not only get an insight into a retail working environment are also enabled to gain 27 credits towards NCEA Level 2 through the support of a dedicated co-ordinator. Billy participated in the Red Shirts in School program and now works full-time in the new Tauranga store. He shares his story about beginning as a Red Shirts student, his new role and his aspirations to further his career in retail.

Before I started the Red Shirts in School program in 2014 I had no career direction; I had absolutely no idea where I wanted to go or what I wanted to do with my life ahead. I was offered the chance to partake in the Red Shirts in Schools program at The Warehouse Hastings, I thought this was a bit weird and I was slightly embarrassed to be seen in a red shirt. Working for The Warehouse was never what I would have thought I’d end up doing.

I started the program in June 2014 alongside some close friends, so this made the experience a bit easier, but my first day in the Red Shed I loved, and I’ve never looked back since. I will never forget the feeling I got from helping a customer in such an extensive way, I felt on top of the world! The weeks went by and every week I was in there I absolutely loved it and felt like that this was the place for me, this is what I was destined to do. Most important of all, my people skills increased dramatically, my product knowledge sky-rocketed and most of all my overall self-confidence went through the roof.

I managed to get a casual job with The Warehouse Hastings in early April 2015, working checkouts and shop floor. After this, my love for the job, the people and everything about this company just shot right up. The opportunities I was given, the things I did and the people I worked with all changed my life for the better. I kept getting heaps more opportunities to work in all different departments, Entertainment, Product Services, Shop Floor, Jewellery, Loss Prevention and Nightfill.

In May 2016 I applied to work at the new Warehouse store opening at the Tauranga Crossing, I wanted to further my career and take that next step. This would mean leaving home, moving to a town where I don’t know anyone, it was a freaky thought. A Monday morning I was woken up by a phone call from Duncan Gardiner (Tauranga Crossing Store Manager) offering me a phone interview in the days after this phone call, I gladly accepted! The interview went well, and I ended up driving up to Tauranga to meet the management team, and I was offered and accepted 40 hours a week on the shop floor, which was a huge step! Going from 7 permanent hours a week to 40 has been a huge change, not to mention leaving town!

I am now living the life I’ve always wanted to live, and I’m only 18 years old. Life could not be sweeter, considering I started off as a nervous red shirt at the age of 16! The Warehouse Career motto, ‘start here, go anywhere’ really does stand true. I started off as a red shirt at school visiting the store once a week to develop a huge range of skills, and now it is my career, my job, it was I do for a living, and I wouldn’t swap it for anything. I have plans to go even further at some stage to move up into management and would like to become a store manager later on in life. When the time comes, I hope to work with some red shirts who are in the same position I was in to help them how the program helped me.

Now that I’ve moved to Tauranga there are so many more opportunities available for me to develop and grow within the company, and to achieve my long term goals that I have planned. I have this amazing program to thank for my skills today, my knowledge and my self-esteem. Now I am hugely proud to slip on that red shirt, put on my name badge and work in a store for such a great company with amazing people.

The Warehouse is passionate about making retail a desirable and fulfilling career choice. The Red Shirts School program is one way we encourage high school students to consider developing a career in retail by offering them the opportunity to grow and develop valuable skills while completing their studies.


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