Chapter 6: Living my 12 Year Old Fantasy: Working at an Indie Bookstore

After my freshman year, I knew that I would need to learn more about budgeting

and that it would be beneficial for me to get a job and receive a steady income. My parents have always been helpful to me when I need money, and I’m grateful to them both for that, but I wanted to be responsible for myself and earn my own money.

I knew that I could get a job on campus, but I also knew that there was a local bookstore in town right off campus. Since I was about twelve years old, it has been my dream to work at a bookstore. Specifically, a small bookstore in the hills of England and living in a little cottage away from everyone. Then one day Harry Styles would walk in and pronounce his love to me, just like in every fanfiction ever. Now I was 19 and I knew Harry Styles wasn’t going to be appearing in Westchester, New York, but I could still get part of this fantasy by working in the bookstore!

My friend Jill that I had mentioned earlier was my current roommate at the time and we motivated each other to get the courage and go to the bookstore to ask if they were hiring together (by ourselves it was too scary). We walked into the store one afternoon and luckily they were hiring for weekend shifts. It was perfect!

Me and Jill taking a goofy selfie after our first training shift

We worked on our resumes together, prepped each other for interviews, and helped each other find a good interview outfit. The afternoon of our interview, we both got the job and started training the next week. We were both extremely excited to be able to work at a place filled with books and get paid to recommend our favorite books.

It has now been two years of  working at the store and I’m so grateful for all of the skills I’ve gained and the people I have met. Because of this job, I had no other choice but to finally learn time management skills and how to balance schoolwork and work-work. It was difficult at first, but if you are truly motivated and love what you are doing, eventually it becomes possible. I also taught myself budgeting and have become much better at speaking with people thanks to the retail part of the job. Even when there’s a mean customer, I’m able to smile and work hard until they leave. Once they’re gone, that is when my coworkers and I scream to let out the stress.

Me and my coworker being asked to take a photo with Elvis when the Elvis movie was promoting

Speaking of coworkers, I ended up meeting some of the best people thanks to this job. In my past job, my coworkers were incredibly toxic and were very “cliquey”. I was nervous about joining this job because some of these people had been working here for a long time and thought it would be the same as my last job, but thankfully it was the exact opposite. Everyone accepted Jill and I right away and were always ready to help when we were confused, and believe me, we were confused. If you’ve ever worked in a bookstore and use the computer program “Book Manager”, you know how confusing and complicated the program is. Even now I’ll still occasionally text my boss with a question.

This job has also been beneficial with my own major, as someone who is interested in publishing. I have met other publishers, have discovered some of the big publishing companies, and have learned how to sell pitches about a book soon to be published to booksellers. I strongly recommend getting a job that may be helpful towards your major. It gives you a quick glimpse into your future and is definitely a great resume booster.


  • I wanted to get a job starting my sophomore year of college
  • My roommate and I applied to the local bookstore in town
  • We got the job and I met great people and gained important skills
  • Getting a job in sync with your major is extremely helpful in the future

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By Mia Ilie

Mia Ilie is a student at Pace University, graduating in May 2024 with a degree in Writing and Rhetoric and a focus on publishing. She grew up in Rockland, New York and is currently living in Westchester, New York where she attends school and works at a local bookstore. You can always find her with her nose in a book or screaming to Taylor Swift with her friends.

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