@REI-JohnJ thank you so much for your response! It's been a wild month that's kept me from responding, but your help has not been wasted. I called Mark Reich at the Atlanta REI like you suggested, and we had a great conversation. I submitted an application and am under consideration for employment. Depending on several factors, I could end up joining the REI as early as November.
The background of opportunities that you offered was really helpful. Ultimately, I'm anxious to get my foot in the door at the retail level and continue to explore opportunities as they become available, but my passion is to be outside. Leading REI Adventure trips would be a dream, but I know that program is just now ramping up in the context of COVID. My background is in engineering, so the idea of contributing to gear design teams sounds awesome. My experience in retail otherwise is limited.
You put it well. I'm pretty open-minded and not really nervous about building knowledge as I go. I love the culture of the co-op, and I'm sure my problem will end up being some decisions about which of several great paths I should pursue.
Thank you again for your response. Getting in contact with a manager was the best progress I've made so far. Hoping to join the team soon 🙂