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From part-time to permanent: When a seasonal job turns into a career you love

PeopleKirsten Berg, Gap Inc. blogger1 Comment

Thinking about applying for a seasonal job at one of our stores this holiday season? You'll love the incredible merchandise discounts — but there's a good chance you'll fall for the company, too. Meet four employees who started as seasonal hires in our stores and wound up finding their passion. Head here to check out seasonal jobs at Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy and Athleta.

Where it all began

Lisa Cepis, Athleta district manager based in Ohio, started working at Gap during her senior year of college, and got bitten by the retail bug upon discovering how varied a retail career could be. Lisa now oversees nine Athleta stores in four states.

Jeannie Perez, general manager at Old Navy at Florida's Miami International Mall, was nudged by her mom to get a job at age 17. Although she didn't have any previous work experience, she was hired as a summer seasonal employee at Old Navy in the local mall. She is about to start managing one of the company's top 40 stores.

J.P. Hunter, district manager for Banana Republic Factory, based in Florida, was so into the Gap brand that as a high-schooler, he commuted 30 minutes each way for his job at the nearest store. He stayed with the store through college, and likes to say that he “majored in Gap." About six years ago, J.P. moved to Banana Republic, and is now responsible for nine stores (soon to be 10) in four states.

Juan Lara-Diaz, general manager at the Gap Factory store in San Leandro, Calif.,started at Gap Factory right out of high school, as a seasonal hire during back-to-school season. By the time holiday season started four months later, he was the store's acting manager.

So what are the coolest perks you get when you take a seasonal job at Gap Inc.?

Lisa: I started as a back-to-school seasonal hire for the amazing employee discount. I still love the discount, but I'm also really grateful for the chance to move between Gap Inc. brands and land with a brand whose mission is to uplift women.

J.P.: I don't think there are many companies that are as accommodating to the work-school-life balance as we are. If you're in school and need to arrange your schedule around classes or take time off for finals, we're going to help. We definitely understand the importance of education here.

Juan: Right away, I got incredibly helpful support, tools and feedback. I'm working on a degree in retail management and I know that the experience I've gotten working here, and the collaboration I've had with coworkers goes so far beyond what I could ever learn from a textbook. Plus who doesn't want to work in a store where they love the merchandise? I have my eye on a pair of Slim Stretch jeans right now.

Jeannie: This isn't a guaranteed perk of working at Old Navy, but I met my husband here — he was on the shipment team. Now we have two Old Navy babies: Aria is 3 and Daniel is nine months old. The moral of the story is that no matter what part of the organization you're a part of, you meet and work with some amazing people.

What should people know about taking a seasonal gig at one of your stores?

Lisa: What makes it exciting for me during the holidays is spreading joy — both for our teams and for the customer in front of me. If a customer walks in having a bad day, how do we make it better? Yes, we sell great clothes, but we do so much more than that. Getting to see the ways we can put a smile on someone's face right before our eyes is such a treat.

Juan: It's fast-paced, but it's the time of year when we have the most fun. We have contests, gift exchanges, potlucks — all kinds of things to help make this a great environment to work in and a fun place to shop. Everyone gets into the spirit of the season.

Jeannie: It's a wonderful place to earn some cash and get discounts on holiday gifts (checking off your holiday shopping list gets a whole lot easier!) ... but it can become so much more than that if you want it to be. And it is never boring.

J.P.: It feels like a real accomplishment to help someone find the perfect gift or perfect outfit for a holiday event. It's also incredibly satisfying to help people check things off their shopping lists and help make the holiday craziness a little bit less crazy so that I don't have to think about my own!

Check out seasonal jobs at Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy and Athleta.