I'm just over a year out of college and working in the corporate world which so far, I'm not a big fan of. I graduated with a Criminal Justice degree with a minor in Business Management. I'm very interested in applying to work at REI because I love what you stand for and I want to help people get outdoors more. It's such a big part of my life and I just feel like I want to share that with others and help anyway I can. I'd love to hear from some of you who are already working for REI! How do you like the work environment? Is there opportunities to move up in the company? How did you get started in the company?
Thanks in advance 🙂
Hey @apmallard! I've been with REI for the past nine years, and it's opened up a world of opportunity for me. I've met the best adventure partners I've ever had, and done things that I never would have done before beginning work here because these things just didn't exist in my outdoor Rolodex beforehand: ice climbing in Ouray, sea kayaking with orcas in the San Juans, mountain biking in Sedona, bike packing from DC to Pittsburgh along the C&O/GAP, etc.
My passion is getting people into the outdoors, and I have been teaching Outdoor School classes for the past six years, both in store and out in the field. I've taught people in their 60s to ride a bike for the first time, and I've led a group of women into the woods for their first backpacking trip when the lows were in the 20s overnight. It's an amazing feeling, giving back to them what was given to me a decade ago.
There are opportunities to move up within the company, but there's no guarantee that it will be a quick process. It all depends on how motivated you and your manager are as a team, what opportunities exist in your market, whether you're flexible and willing to relocate to a different market to achieve those goals, and which direction you'd like to grow within the company. I would much prefer to grow with Outdoor School, but those positions are very limited, especially now with COVID with us not having run any classes in six months.
There are a lot of perks to working with REI, but the main benefit I've found is the people: everyone is like-minded, and you can generally find an activity partner for each day of the week. Mountain biking with Jane on Monday, hiking with Tom on Tuesday, etc. You actually want to hang out with your coworkers once you clock out. 🙂
I wore the Green Vest for about six months as a very part time employee, one to three days a week as I worked another part-time job which paid more but was never going to be more than part time. I liked the work and loved most of the people I worked with. Most of the customers were great too. REI is one of the top 100 companies to work for. It has a great corporate culture. Even part-time workers can contribute to a 401K, and of course there is the employee discount.
The sticking point for me was the inability to schedule and take time off when I needed it and that is when I resigned. Two and a half years later, I still have fond memories from the store I worked in, am glad when I go there to shop and see former co-workers, and I am still proud to be a member of REI. Generally speaking, however, retail is a brutal industry.