What could be better than to see a protege progress in her career. We are so gratified to have watched Melanie thrive in our supportive work environment of Girl AGain and to help her develop her skills at work. Melanie joined us as a volunteer when she was a 17-year-old high school student. Now that she has graduated from college, she is ready for the next step in her career: a full-time job with benefits in her two fields of study. Congratulations to Melanie.
My six-year journey from collector to volunteer to employee to management to my next career move.
I have been an American Girl doll collector since I was six years old. This is a picture of me taken at American Girl Place in New York City with my first doll. I started shopping at Girl AGain in my Junior year of High School in 2015, while I was trying to complete some sets for my American Girl collection.
My knowledge of the product was the main thing that got me started volunteering at Girl AGain, along with my doll fixing skills. I started off by bringing home large bins of dolls to fix and repair and bringing them back for the trainees to price and dress. I would volunteer in the store maybe once a week helping sort and organize outfits and identifying unknown items.
Once I graduated from high school and my schedule opened up more, I was offered a position as Associate at Girl AGain where I would run the store once or twice a week on the weekends, and when they needed me to fill in.
I learned plenty of work skills, including office skills and hospitality skills, some of the most useful being phone calls, transactions, and of course computer skills including writing proper emails and posting online items to websites. I also learned some marketing skills for Facebook and Instagram.
When COVID struck, my manager needed to stay home to help her children in virtual schooling, so I was promoted to Assistant Manager. I was running the store 3 days a week, creating tasks for the trainees to work on, and coming up with ideas to improve the store. I would run the online portion of the store choosing items for the website and wrapping up and shipping items once they sold. My weekly photos postings to Facebook and Instagram resulted in lots of phone orders!
The promotion included more independence which taught me more work skills for the future. Yes She Can helps their trainees prepare for the workforce but also offers training to their store associates including the interview process for work interviews and proper attire for the workplace.
Throughout my work journey here I was also able to acquire two Associates’ Degrees in Hospitality Management and Accounting, as my manager was able to work around my school schedule. I am the first person in my family to earn a college degree.
In December (2021), as I was going to interview for an internship to finish my degree in accounting, the company I interviewed with saw my hospitality background, accounting background, and my background with the nonprofit. They saw me as a well-rounded individual and offered me a full-time position with their company as I have a lot of experience with different types of people.
One of the most important lessons I learned while working at Girl AGain in my different positions is to work as a team! It’s one of the most important lessons I took out of the job to work as a team. Always be honest with your coworkers if you don’t know how to do something. The best way to grow is to learn from others above you.
I was able to do what I love, which is working with American Girl items while participating in an amazing cause. This job helped me through college in multiple ways. I made some new friends both at work and customer-friends who enjoy collecting as much as I do as well. I will miss working here but am thankful for how much I learned and was able to grow while working here.
By Melanie Pugni