My Summer Job: Nicole Stephenson

What the Main Line Chamber of Commerce Exec Learned By Working At Acme

by Ana Welsh, business editor  

Over five years – high school and some college years – Stephenson worked at the Acme in Kennett Square. Stephenson started as a bagger at age 16, then worked her way up to cashier. “I floated through different departments and learned as much as I could to become valuable to my employer,” she said.  

Stephenson truly climbed the ladder at Acme. She worked her way into customer service, which is where she met two experienced women who indirectly became her mentors and role models. “I don’t know if they realize how much they helped me,” Stephenson said of those two managers. “They worked around my school schedule. I learned everything from them. They always wanted to help me, especially because I needed money in college.”  

Nicole Stephenson

Stephenson developed skillsets she still uses today. “I worked my way up to close the store every night. That included balancing the financials. I had to file things correctly and use a highlighter to stay accurate. I loved the organizational piece of it. I use the skillsets today of following a specific process – and I use a highlighter to manage our table seating for events.”  

Stephenson specifically remembers her metamorphosis from an inexperienced employee into a person who was skilled in dealing with different personalities. “I learned how to navigate really tough situations and control my personality and temper and that really lends itself to the corporate world.”  

Stephenson recalls her first-hand experience with the stigma of being in a service job, like at a supermarket. “But they had nice schedules, great benefits and made great money even though they didn’t go to college. They were happy.”  

Nicole Stephenson
Nicole Stephenson’s high school graduation photo.

Stephenson’s experience led her to realize how impactful a strong company culture can be. “Acme really wanted me to succeed,” she said. “It was a sense of belonging and everyone respected one another. The  experience was really helpful to build that culture now at SPW and the Main Line Chamber of Commerce.”  

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