This summer, as I began my work at The Container Store, I was excited for so many reasons. First, as every employee who works here has at some point probably expressed, I have always loved The Container Store. Going to The Container Store, before I even knew about what a great company it is, has always been a deeply therapeutic experience, from the unforgettably helpful employees to the clean, bright aisles and products. Second, having been exposed to the basics of Conscious Capitalism and seeing the words “Great Place to Work” always next to the company’s name, I was eager to see what all the hype was about.
I was also excited as a student receiving the opportunity to work a full time position at a well-respected, publicly-traded company. I had always heard about the soul-crushing perils of a 9-5 job. As my peers, who had interned at other firms and corporations, informed me, you lose track of weeks, every day just becomes a blur of computers screens and tiny cubicles.
There are so many reasons why working with a conscious company has completely shattered that previously dull conception of working life. At The Container Store, the open lines of communication, the friendliness and warmth of all the employees (from the youngest recruit to the top executive) knocks down the walls of traditionally claustrophobic corporate culture. People do not exist in closed off bubbles; every task and project is done as a team, with specific and careful thought about the ripples it will create across the office and company as a whole. This whole-brained attitude makes every day more engaging, more enjoyable, and, yes, vastly more efficient.
Before starting here, I understood, in theory, that The Container Store believed in allowing “all stakeholders to thrive”. What I realize now is that this idea has created a deep-rooted trust and companionship amongst the employees, outside vendors, and benefactors of the company so that, on a day to day basis, communication and negotiation is easy, respectful, and mutually beneficial. Everything The Container Store does rests on a foundation of genuine relationships that have been built by decades of commitment to exceptional quality, price, and service (not just to customers but to the community as a whole).
But perhaps the most important thing I have learned from working for a conscious company came to me as I sat in the back of Our Leadership Conference, an event I was so lucky to attend my second week here. As I listened to the group of phenomenal leaders and entrepreneurs speak, I heard a clear theme, that on the surface seems so simple yet is so easily forgotten: care about what you do, care about improving the lives of other people, and not because of the outcome, not because somebody’s watching, but because if you don’t genuinely care about what you do and the people you work with, nothing else matters.
As a young person soon to enter the workforce, it is not the prospect of hard work that daunts me, but the prospect of working in a position that is not meaningful to me, something I do not care about. I realize that this sounds naïve, because, as an adult, I need to think about more practical matters such as income and security. But I also realize that so much of what makes getting up and going to work every day meaningful and exciting comes from caring and trusting the people around you—something I see so clearly here at The Container Store. I know how spoiled I am to begin the road to a full-time career at a place like this, but as I search for my first job, I will challenge myself to seek companies as caring, committed, and conscious as this one.