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By The Auxiliary Services Team

Working at the UH Bookstore has many great perks for UH students. It’s a way to get some extra income to help pay for tuition, fees, textbooks and class supplies, and you get real-world job experience while you’re still a student. But perhaps one of the best perks is the chance to enroll in the Barnes & Noble College Bestseller Program.

The Bestseller Program is a management development program that is open to students who have been employed at the bookstore for at least three months. Students who apply and are accepted into the program receive hands-on leadership, management, retail operations and business training to prepare them, upon graduation, for a management-level position at one of Barnes & Noble College’s more than 770 stores across the country. Even if they choose not to take a position at a Barnes & Noble College store, students in the Bestseller Program will leave with valuable leadership and professional experience that can help set them apart from the thousands of other new graduates entering the professional job market.

Bookstore Management Team group photoCaleb Hodder, Bria Swafford and Sarah Meadows (pictured right to left), all communications majors at the UH Jack J. Valenti School of Communications, are currently enrolled in the Bestseller Program at the UH Bookstore. Hodder is on track to become a store manager upon graduation. Swafford manages the UH Bookstore’s social media pages and assists in producing and promoting marketing and promotional materials for the store. She hopes to obtain a marketing position within Barnes & Noble College after she graduates. Meadows is on track to become a textbook manager.

“These are the students who are not afraid to get in there and get things done,” said Bill Schaub, UH Bookstore manager. “They show up at 6:30 a.m. and stay late into the evening. They help us hire new recruits, represent us at orientations and help manage graduation product ordering and pickup at the end of each semester. And they squeeze all this in with their coursework and other responsibilities. They are future leaders.”

In Their Own Words

Caleb HodderCaleb Hodder, public relations major

How did you learn about the Bestseller Program? What made you want to apply for it?

After working at the UH Bookstore for about a semester, I learned about the program. Usually, the store manager comes to you to talk about the program, but I decided to approach the store manager on my own. You can’t pass up an opportunity like the Bestseller Program. Once you complete the program, Barnes & Noble College helps place you in a job after graduation. That’s something a lot of college students struggle with: finding a job after graduation.

What has been the most challenging part about the program? What’s been your favorite part?

For me, the most challenging part has been learning all the different aspects of bookstore management. There’s so much to absorb — walking through each department of the store, learning all that goes on behind the scenes and so on. In addition to that, I’ve had to balance this program with my school work and the student organizations I’m involved in. It’s a lot to do at once.

My favorite part about the program has been being a student manager. I’m able to lead my peers and teach them everything I know. When it’s time for me to graduate and move into the professional world, it’s going to be a smoother transition thanks to all I learned in the program. I won’t have some of those struggles new leaders have fresh out of college.

How do you feel the Bestseller Program is helping you grow as a professional?

When I think about when I first came to college, I had no clue I was going to be a business professional. I knew I needed to get a good job after I graduated, but that, to me, wasn’t for a while. Working in the Bestseller Program got me to really think about how the business world works. It made me more conscious of the way I dress, the way I talk, how I greet customers and even how I stand. I feel like those are skills you can only pick up in a program like this. And thanks to the Bestseller Program and all I’m learning from (General Manager) Bill Schaub, my professional skills are growing every day.

Bria Swafford, corporate communications major

Bria SwaffordHow did you learn about the Bestseller Program? What made you want to apply for it?

I heard about the Bestseller Program during freshmen orientation, but I never really paid attention to it. I didn’t get interested until about a year after I started working at the bookstore. I had taken over the bookstore’s social media pages. After the store manager at the time saw what I could do with the social media pages, he told me about the Bestseller Program. I also learned Barnes & Noble College corporate had a marketing department, which would align perfectly with my career goals. So, I decided to join the Bestseller Program.

What has been the most challenging part about the program? What’s been your favorite part?

The hardest part has been balancing the program with my school work — and also managing the social media pages on my own. Social media takes a lot of preparation. You have to create content, schedule it and monitor it constantly throughout the day. Having to do that, along with my school work and my other responsibilities in the program, is challenging.

My favorite part is seeing how all I’m learning in the program relates to my course work and vice versa. I’ll go to class, and I’ll already understand the topic because of my job. Or when I come to work, and we’re doing something like promoting a sale, I know all about that because of my classes. That’s a rare thing for a college student to be able to work in their field while they’re in school.

How do you feel the Bestseller Program is helping you grow as a professional?

The Bestseller Program has helped me so much in taking on a leadership role and developing my professional skills. I feel that after I graduate, I won’t have the awkward growing pains of adjusting to the professional world. I’ll be ahead of the game because I’ll already have management training.

Sarah Meadows, corporate communications major

Sarah MeadowsHow did you learn about the Bestseller Program? What made you want to apply for it?

I learned about the Bestseller Program from Caleb. I started working at the bookstore exactly one year after he did. He had just joined the Bestseller Program when I came in, and he was super excited about it. I thought to myself, “I want to be that guy one day.” After that, I just worked really hard. Then, about a year after I started,  the former assistant manager asked me if I wanted to apply for the program. I said, “Absolutely!”

What has been the most challenging part about the program? What’s been your favorite part?

The most challenging part has been taking on a role as a leader for the newer employees. I’ve always loved the textbooks department of the bookstore, and that’s what I started out doing. The training was lots of fun for me, but it was taking what I’d learned and teaching other people that was challenging.

My favorite part is seeing how much I’ve changed. If you would have told me three years ago when I started here that I would be able to lead a team and do it competently and happily, I probably wouldn’t have believed you. But now I absolutely love working with the new recruits.

How do you feel the Bestseller Program is helping you grow as a professional?

I feel like it’s taught me the most about how to carry myself professionally, how to talk to my bosses and how to work with faculty around campus. I’ve also learned how to build relationships with other professionals. That’s what I’m most grateful for — the opportunity to learn how to communicate with people. I used to be really shy. Not so much anymore.

Interested in the Bestsellers Program?

Are you interested in working in retail? Like what you heard about the Bestseller Program? Take the first step by applying for a job at the UH Bookstore. Visit the Barnes & Noble College career page to search for openings at the bookstore. You may also contact the UH Bookstore at 713-448-0923 for more information, or visit us at the Student Center South.


posted: Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2017