An Emmy Doesn't Qualify You for a Job at the Container Store

The Container Store didn’t hire Deborah Copaken, and rightfully so. Credit: The Container Store

A post on café.com by Deborah Copaken, an Emmy-winning, best-selling author, has gone viral after she was not hired at The Container Store. The premise was pretty simple: Copaken won an Emmy, she’s a best-selling author; surely, she’s good enough to get a retail job.

In the post, Copaken wrote about several other troubles she went through recently; most notably, getting divorced, being diagnosed with breast cancer and losing her health insurance. Those are some terrible ills and I sincerely hope she wins her battle with cancer.

But not getting a job at The Container Store does not belong on that list. And, frankly, the way the article was written was condescending to the workers at The Container Store, a company that appears to put a premium on treating its employees well.

The Specifics

We get it. Copaken is a highly-acclaimed writer, that’s great. But what exactly does that have to do with working at The Container Store?

What was her main motivation for applying? After reading her essay, while she said she likes the store, it seems like the real reason she applied was to get health insurance. Copaken wrote she was making money freelancing as a writer, but needed the benefits that come with working at The Container Store.

However, when you look at The Container Store’s career site, it puts a strong emphasis on developing its employees, hoping they move up within their ranks. And that just isn’t talk either: first off, they give benefits to even their part-time employees, something few other retailers do. And second, they give their employees 263 hours of training, something few jobs anywhere offer.

Clearly, The Container Store cares about having great people, and should be saluted for giving benefits that few other retailers offer. But they also deserve a commitment on their end as well, and what exactly was Kogan offering?

Sure, Copaken is a best-selling novelist, but is she great with people? Does she have any retail experience? Is she really committed to this job or does she just want to do the bare minimum for the health insurance?

“These days, a job is a job, and a job with benefits is a unicorn,” Copaken wrote in her post. “I could wave hello to customers and spot a thief entering The Container Store just as easily as the next casualty of the creative class could.”

I think there’s more to the job than that.

I myself have had some success as a writer in my career (not to her level, but some success). Does that make me qualified to fly a plane? Become a police officer? Change the oil in your car?

No. And it doesn’t mean I would be great employee at The Container Store either. And it would be presumptuous to think I would be.

The Bigger Takeaway

Copaken is going through a tough time, so I don’t want to make it about her. I’m happy she got a job that better suits her skills at café.com and I hope everything works out for her.

There’s a bigger lesson here though: all jobs matter at a company. Even the low-paid ones. And The Container Store is smart for both offering great benefits for even part-time positions so they attract great people; but also ensuring that those people are fully committed to working there.

The Container Store deserves praise for putting an emphasis on hiring the right people and then treating them fairly, not blame. And no, not anyone could do the job, even if they do have an Emmy.

About VoiceGlance

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