In the US alone, Apple has 265 retail stores across 44 states. Each of those locations employs over 100 people — totalling about about 30,000 full- or part-time retail workers.
Of course, every employee’s experience is different — but we recently spoke with former Apple “specialist” Albert Adolphus to find out what it was really like for him:
Time at Apple: I worked for Apple in a Connecticut store from October 2010 through May 2012.
Title(s) held: My official title was “specialist.” My job in the Apple retail store was to provide the customer with an informative and memorable purchasing experience.
Once the product was purchased it was our obligation to the consumer to have an amazing “out of box” grand gesture, offering free personal training, and an immediate hands-on learning experience.
Reason for leaving: I lefT in the summer of 2012 due to an opportune business internship in California.
Hiring process: Well, I was working at Best Buy but I wanted something more exciting. I have always loved Apple products and when looking for a new job, Apple stood out among the competitors.
I filled out Apple’s online application, which consisted of a series of questions that I suppose helped them determine if I was “Apple material.”
After submitting my application it was a waiting game.
Two weeks passed with no contact, so I decided I would visit the Apple Store in the Westfarms Mall in Connecticut. At the store I was introduced to a manager who explained that the following Saturday morning they were having a hiring event at 7 a.m., and she invited me to attend.
That following Saturday, bright and early, I headed over to the event, which was incredibly crowded. I saw at least 40 other possible candidates who seemed just as eager as I.
Apple employees welcomed us to the event with videos about Apple’s achievements, and concluded with a written quiz on your knowledge of Apple product and its major software, like Pages, KeyNote, Numbers, Aperture, as well as Time Machine and others. We were thanked for coming and then excused once we had completed our quiz.
It was just a few days later when I received my first follow-up call. I spoke with a manager who asked when I’d be available for an interview, and we picked a time.
This interview would be the first of six.
Apple’s hiring process included a one-on-one interview with each manager from the store, as well as with the district manager. After concluding the final interview I was informed that I had made the cut, and would be starting with the company the following week.
Job training: Apple has a specially designed training program for all new employees, referred to as “Core” training.
Core training took place off-site and included 15 new employees like myself. It lasted 10 days and was always closely monitored by a manager and a store lead employee.
The next 10 days were essentially “Apple boot camp.” We played ice-breaker games and learned everything Apple — history, achievements, programs, the the company’s mission statement, benefits and stock options.
It was a month before any of us would be on the sales floor alone.
Once basic core training was completed, we each were assigned a veteran employee to “shadow” — this person is suppose to be your mentor. Once they thought you had what it took, they would play the role of reverse shadow and would monitor your knowledge and professionalism on the job.
The difference between “Specialist” and “Genius”: I was never an Apple Genius because I was a part-time employee, and Apple only offers Genius positions as a full-time job.
When I worked at Apple, Geniuses were sent on an all-expenses-paid business trip for 14 days to Cupertino, California, for Genius training camp. Geniuses often made $US25 to $US30 an hour based on their tenure.
From what I knew, many Geniuses who had been there since the store opened its doors were making well over $US40 an hour.
The best part of working for Apple: It had to be launch days! There were crazy long lines, especially for the iPad 2, and the iPhone 5. The energy on these days rocked my world. I will never forget them.
Apple is, of course, concerned with how well taken care of its customers are, but I have to say the company also looks out for their employees. I remember they would often buy the entire store crew a full meal for free on launch days, which was pretty awesome.
Another perk of working there: Customers love Apple, so my days were often pleasant.
Every day I would interact with people; young and old, rich and poor, and from all walks of life with different needs, wants, and budgets. This type of selling opened my eyes to the importance of treating all my customers equally, all with compassion, no matter what the circumstance.
Worst part of working for Apple: Honestly, looking back, most of my time there was pretty great. I guess the one part of the job I didn’t look forward to was closing the store at night. If you have ever entered an Apple store in the morning you will see just how perfect every iPad, iPod, MacBook Pro have been aligned — without fingerprints. I can tell you, this is a task that takes hours to do, often taking the store’s closing crew two to three hours to accomplish.
Most surprising thing about working at Apple: I would think readers would be surprised to see the energy behind Apple’s walls, to know that management is always working on creating a better customer experience. Customer loyalty and satisfaction is their number one priority.
I also think readers might find the level of diversity among the talent at Apple very inspiring.
Pay and benefits: When I worked at Apple, I was paid $US12 an hour as a specialist. They offered benefit options such as health care for all employees full- and/or part-time. Other benefits included stock pay options (up to 10% of your income quarterly at 15% of market value) and discounts, such as 25% off a product once a year, 15% off products for friends and family on three products a year, and an unlimited 10% in-store discount on anything, any time.
Weirdest thing that happened on the job:
Apple is an exciting place, and weird stuff happened every day, as can be expected in retail. However one memory that sticks out above the rest was when a flash mob broke out in the middle of the store. The mob used the electronics in the store to play music and record their dance routine. That turned my pretty normal day of work into feeling as if I were on a set of a music video shoot.
Coolest thing that ever happened on the job: The coolest thing was also the most touching thing I experience while working there.
A woman in tears came into the store because she had dropped her phone in the water. At first I didn’t understand why she was so upset about an easily replaceable phone. Then she told me how her phone contained a very important message that would break her heart if she were to lose it forever.
She confided in me that she had lost her son in a car accident and on this device was her final communication from her son, a voicemail with his closing words being “I love you Mum.” This was right before the iCloud and wireless backup days, and the message was not within the voicemail server — we tried this solution first.
A Genius in the store took it upon himself to transplant the logic board into another phone, at which time the phone was able to power on and retrieve the voicemail, saving it as an audio file as to avoid losing it in the future. It felt pretty good to be able to help this woman.
What it’s REALLY like to work in an Apple store: You get to work with really creative people. I became inspired to spread the creativity bug and often found myself being thanked and praised when customers left the store with exactly what they needed.
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