How I Became A Future Nordstrom Leader

April 3, 2014
Photograph by Cristine Burklin

6 Months ago I was in a difficult place- I was struggling to find a job and dealing with a lot of personal issues at the time.  It was when my dad was going through some medical problems that I decided it was best to take any job that I could get to support myself and in the worst case, help support my family as well.  I had applied for a job at Nordstrom and had a pending interview that I could schedule at my leisure.  I kept thinking to myself, I should be working for a magazine or newspaper- I was getting discouraged by constant rejection.  I sucked up my pride and decided to interview for the Sales Associate position in BP, the Juniors department.
The interview was easy for me and the more I heard about the company, the more I wanted to land this job.  Sure, I was just going to be a sales associate but there was all this talk of moving up with the company and I took a great interest in it.
I loved the idea of having a fresh start with such a reputable company and I took it to my advantage.  Since day one I introduced myself to everyone, I said hi to everyone, the first time I saw the store manager I went up and introduced myself, explaining my background, my current job title and my goals with Nordstrom.  I started at the perfect time as the holiday season was approaching and everyone was coming in to buy gifts.  After Christmas when things died down a little and returns were coming in, I decided I wanted to do more than just sell.  I was invited to “Coffee with Doug” where New Hires sit at a table and give feedback and discuss any issues they might be having.  This is the moment that I stood out and changed directions with the company.
During the coffee meeting I listened to everyones concerns and even chimed in with my own words of advice.  My turn came and I gave positive feedback and suggestions.  I then expressed my interest in writing and taking photographs for the company.  I walked out of the meeting with the biggest smile on my face.  I e-mailed both the HR Manager and the Store Manager and the next week I was in my store manager’s office coming up with projects to work on.  After that I was invited to join the web team and be apart of building our store website.  I became an editor and own the “Top Story” web part of the site.  I then met with the woman in charge of Social Media and on the spot became a social media contributor.  Shortly after that, I got a new manager and assistant manager who have been such great resources for me.  My new manager asked if I wanted to be “striker” of accessories.  Essentially being a “striker” is being a mini-manager of your department; pulling reports, motivating the team, replenishing and stocking product etc.  I was looking to be more of a leader and mentor for my team so of course I accepted!
Throughout my time with Nordstrom so far I have never had to come to my managers with any big issues, I was never dissatisfied with what I was doing (aside from the usual retail problems that frustrate you from time to time), I’ve built business relationships with my superiors and I feel confident in the tasks I am given.
Last month my HR Manager had sent an e-mail asking if I put any thought into applying to become a Future Nordstrom Leader.  I had no idea what that was so before responding I asked around.  FNL is a very prestigious program for select individuals that the company believes would serve as wonderful leaders of the company.  You learn the history of the company, the culture, anything you would need to know to become a future manager.  I took the challenge and applied!  I may not know exactly where I want to go, but anything that takes me further in the right direction, I am in!  It was a stressful week preparing for the interview while still balancing my other duties at work but my assistant manager and my manager were so helpful and so wonderful.  The interview went well and the next week I got a phone call at home inviting me to be a Future Nordstrom Leader.  I think I had tears in my eyes.

I look at all I have accomplished with Nordstrom already and cannot believe that it has only been 5 months.  I started my first FNL class on Tuesday and though it was incredibly intimidating, I think it is going to be so beneficial to my career and I’m excited for the other classes and meetings.

A few things I have taken away from this experience:

  • Stand out
  • Be friendly
  • Be yourself
  • Voice your goals (repeatedly)
  • Use your resources
  • Take every opportunity as a learning opportunity

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  • Reply Stephanie Mendieta March 11, 2015 at 9:18 pm

    What kind of questions did they ask you in the interview? I have my interview on Saturday 😀

  • Reply Anonymous March 11, 2015 at 10:37 pm

    Hi there,
    I just wanted to let you know that I found this post inspiring! I was recently accepted into the FNL program, and have never felt more ambitious and proud than I do now. I’ve been with the company for over two years and finally decided it was time to elevate my career.
    It’s so wonderful that the leaders at your store are so encouraging and understanding. I hope wherever you are now you’re content and that your career has flourished. Thank you!


  • Reply Maybelline Armistead April 26, 2017 at 4:59 pm

    Such a great read! I’ve been working for Nordstrom Scottsdale for about a month and a half and have been loving the company more and more. I am highly interested in FNL and this post has been helpful and inspiring! Thank you so much. It’s a blessing to know it looks like upper management throughout other Nordstrom stores are encouraging and helpful as well!

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