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Different worlds in front of and behind the counter
Romaine is completing the Swiss Federal VET Diploma to become a retail trade specialist. She explains to us why there’s more to this profession than just receiving payments and letter mail, and what makes working in Zermatt so different from Visp.
“I chose to train as a retail trade specialist because I like being in contact with people. I didn’t want to spend the whole day sitting in an office staring at a screen. For me, the best thing is when customers walk out of the branch happy and smiling, because this means we have done everything right and the customers’ wishes have been met.
I was connected to Swiss Post from a young age, as some of my relatives work here. They told me a lot of interesting stories which gave me a very positive impression of Swiss Post. So I thought I might take a trip to Visp one day to take a look for myself. For three days, I had the opportunity to find out more about the activities involved in working as a retail trade specialist at the branch in Visp, and to glimpse the day-to-day work of employees, which I enjoyed very much. I was particularly impressed by the wide variety of activities they encountered in a day’s work. These include the obvious duties of taking inpayments, sending off parcels and stamping letter mail, as well as work I hadn’t expected, such as consultations about mobile phone subscriptions. This diversity, combined with contact with customers, persuaded me to complete a Swiss Federal VET Diploma as a retail trade specialist at Swiss Post.
Change in place of work – change in customer wishes
Before I could apply, I had to sit an entrance exam, which I fortunately passed. Then I was able to start my apprenticeship in Visp on 1 August 2017. I was quite nervous and shy to begin with, because the whole environment was completely new to me. I had to push myself a bit to be able to approach and speak to people. I also needed a little time to expand my knowledge of the countless options for sending a letter or parcel, and to get used to the large sums of money you need to handle every day. Thanks to my colleagues, I quickly got the hang of it all and felt very comfortable in no time at all. I was warmly welcomed into the team and, right from the start, I had everyone’s support when I was uncertain or had any questions.
After the first year of my apprenticeship, I was able to move to the Zermatt branch for my second year, which is what I’m doing now. Because of the beautiful location and the fact that the Matterhorn is nearby, we have a lot of contact with tourists and seasonal workers. They often want to buy SIM cards, transfer money abroad and, of course, send postcards and parcels back home. In short: the clientele is quite different from Visp. This makes my job very varied and exciting, and I am constantly needing to learn new things. Swiss Post generously provides me with a studio apartment, which means I can spend the night in Zermatt instead of commuting back and forth. This took some getting used to at the beginning, as it was the first time I had been away from home. I find that you’re more careful with your money when you need to pay for your own groceries and other necessities and set your own budget. But I’m used to it by now and am glad that I don’t have to travel two hours a day.
What comes next?
The work in Zermatt is nothing like in Visp; they are truly two different worlds. But I’m happy and grateful that I can have this experience. I think you can improve your skills and knowledge much better than working for three years at the same location.
I will complete the third year of my training back in Visp. I’m still not sure what I want to do after my apprenticeship. First I want to finish my course, then we’ll see.
I would recommend an apprenticeship as a retail trade specialist at Swiss Post to anyone who likes coming into contact with a wide variety of people and doesn’t want to do the same thing every day. I think this job is ideal if you enjoy working in a team, like to keep active and don’t just want to work at a computer.”