Career Advice for Job Seekers

Interview with a Florist

William Frierson AvatarWilliam Frierson
March 13, 2012

I have worked as a florist at Spring Green Floral for two years. Some people think that a florist has set arrangements or pictures to go by, but in my job, every arrangement was a surprise. You have to be able to visualize in segments, and not be constantly worried about the end result. While I may never be interested in buying a mismatched pair of socks, anything goes with flowers. A dash of orange, a frontal base of blue and purple flowers, and a shock of yellow can look absolutely amazing if arranged properly.

I would have to rate this job satisfaction as a 6. I loved being able to unleash my creative side, but the space was cramped and hard to breathe in. If there had been any way to have a larger work area, or even a couple of windows to open, it would have been great.

I loved the job, but it was never something I felt would last very long. It was more of a hobby that I got paid to do for a while. Perhaps if it had been on a much larger scale, like if I was given the option to grow and care for the flowers used, it would have been different. However, I live in a relatively small city in Wisconsin. As we only have six months in each year to grow anything, most of the arrangements I created couldn’t be described as “fresh”. All of the flowers used were from out of state.

This was my second job ever. I was walking down the main street in town, and happened to see a sign in the window saying they were hiring. Before I went in, I didn’t know anything about flowers. Amazingly, the owner was a very energetic person, and saw it as a challenge to teach me everything he knew. He hired me without even having me fill out an application. I wouldn’t change that day for anything.

On the job, I learned that roses have way more thorns than I could have imagined! They are nothing like what you see prepped for sale in stores. We had to wear special gloves to handle them and use a very sharp straight razor to remove all but three thorns from each one. After about two months on the job, I got cocky. I decided I didn’t need the gloves. I hated wearing them. I set to work one day, happy as ever, thinking I was a pro. I ended up with no less than 30 thorn heads stuck in my hands that day. By the time I went to bed, my hands were swelled up badly and I had to go to the doctor the next morning. It took two hours of soaking in a special solution at the clinic to release the bulk of thorn heads. I never went without my gloves again.

Oddly enough, my favorite part of each day was prepping the flowers. Cutting stems just right, putting the vitamin mixture into a tube, and putting the flowers in them. It was relaxing, and smelled wonderful.

I have learned that there is never a guarantee in the working world. Each day should be treated as if you are trying to make a good first impression. The day you stop trying, is the day you become less valuable to the workplace.

The strangest thing to happen didn’t really take place at work, but dealt with my job. I had a recurring dream after spending a week creating arrangements for an upcoming funeral. In the dream, I woke up the woman that died to ask her if she liked the flowers. Her answer was no. She informed me that she had always hated flowers, and even lied to her friends and family about allergies she had so they would never bring flowers near her.  I’ve never told anyone about that dream. I don’t know if I was afraid people would think I was nuts, or if I was afraid to find out if she really felt that way. I remember feeling silly and spooked at the same time.

Usually, customers would put orders in, letting the florist take creative license. There were times, though, that a customer would put an order in, and it would seem like they just rattled off names of random flowers. No amount of creativity could make those arrangements make sense. In those cases, the customers were rarely able to be swayed from their choices, even though they were clearly unhappy with what they were taking home.

I started out at minimum wage, and had been boosted to about four dollars higher by the end of my second year. I was more than able to live off of my pay, and have extra left over.

I never took vacation days, but I had accumulated three weeks. I didn’t have a highly demanding work schedule, so I never felt the need to use any vacation time.

In my case, I didn’t need any special skills to take this job. The owner took me on as a challenge to himself, and I happened to excel at it. Creativity would be the only thing I could think of. You have to be creative in this line of work.

If one of my friends wanted to be a florist, I would suggest they try to get positions that have an onsite greenhouse and a lot of room to work.

This is a true story as told to DiversityJobs, where you can find career interviews for the job you’ve been looking at and available positions in your desired field.

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