Retail NaviGator

The Retail NaviGator - our communication to you about our research on retailing issues and the activities of the David F. Miller Center. This ongoing media change creates a direct connection to the retailing community in a way that keeps information current, direct and GREEN!

September 2012

In this issue:

Changes in Retail Internships

The retail internships of 2012 spawned a new generation of future retail leaders by teaching students about the variety of career opportunities in the industry. Many students focused their studies on merchandising, learning about careers in buying and planning and why a product was purchased and where it should go to sell at the optimal price. "You don't fully understand merchandising until you are part of making it happen," commented marketing senior Allison Cereghino, who interned at Bealls Department Stores with a housewares buyer.

Typically, retail interns are trained in management, sales and merchandising. During the summer of 2012, there were additional positions available for interns that featured social media, e-commerce, communications and global sourcing. This variation attracted new talent from colleges across the campus and invited them to participate in the development of new departments. Retailers seek students who are motivated to grow and change as retailing consistently grows and changes. The unique challenges retailing offers Gators make it an attractive business to pursue for both internships and, ultimately, careers.

Engineering Student Loves Retail

By Zack Chang

My name is Zack Chang, and I am a fifth-year Industrial and Systems Engineering student.

This summer I had the opportunity to work at The Home Depot's Corporate Headquarters in Atlanta. There, I was a Quality Assurance intern in the Global Sourcing department. My work involved identifying products at The Home Depot that have high rates of returns, investigating quality defects that these products might have and then work with manufacturers to implement corrective actions to fix those defects.

There are two things that really stood out and made The Home Depot an incredible company to intern for: The people and the project.

The people I worked with really enriched the whole experience. My assignment manager and our team were always there to teach me the business as well as answer my endless stream of questions. The first time I was introduced to the Senior Vice President, he was eating chicken wings off a tiny plastic plate while we were talking golf. At the time, I didn't comprehend how high up a Senior Vice President really is and how unorthodox of a way that is to meet your SVP. That experience is a great example of the culture at The Home Depot. Everyone is extremely approachable and willing to talk to you.

The program also featured town hall meetings with company executives from the CEO, CMO, CFO, CIO, to even Bernie Marcus himself, the founder of The Home Depot.

It was amazing being able to hear these officers speak about their position, the industry and their journey to be where they are today.

During The Home Depot internship, every intern is assigned a project to work on. The project was very exciting because I was given free rein with my project. For example, I was responsible for leading conference calls between my team and our engineers in China. If I needed something or was stuck somewhere on my project, it was up to me to ask the right questions and talk to the right people in order to get the information I needed.

I loved my project because I was really working on something that made an impact on the company. This was very important to me because the program gave me confidence in my own ability, and really showed me that I am ready to make significant contributions wherever I work.

In the end, I was glad to have had the opportunity to represent The Gator Nation at The Home Depot. The retail world is a fascinating industry, and I encourage everyone who isn't already involved to give it a shot. It's a fast-paced lifestyle in which you can see the results of your work. I'm addicted.

My Experience at Chico's FAS Inc.

By Rachel Morse

Words cannot describe how much I learned this summer. I was challenged in so many new ways. Working for Chico's FAS Inc. dared me to think outside the box, ushered me into unfamiliar situations and challenged me to put 100 percent forward each day. This summer was one of the best summers for me personally and professionally.

The environment at Chico's FAS Inc. is positive, and it encourages associates to strive for success. Everyone loves what they do. Contagious creativity flows from every hallway, conference room and cubicle. There is always inspiration to be found on the National Store Support Campus.

Upon starting my internship, I was contacted and welcomed by my recruiter, Kayce Thompson, who eased my anxiety about the internship. Once I arrived on campus, the friendliness kept flowing from my fellow interns, my intern leader, Erin Lansberry, and my director, Jamie Petter.

The intern program allowed me to interact with other people I wouldn't have the chance of meeting. This helped me to develop my communication skills. In the intern program, I had the opportunity on Fridays to trade places with another intern for the day. This was helpful because I was exposed to other areas I ordinarily wouldn't see. As interns, Chico's subjects us to different environments because they want us to understand the different career paths available in retailing.

I learned what it means to be a part of an amazing company and, most importantly, a family. I find myself wanting people to ask me what my summer plans consisted of so I can proudly say I was an intern at Chico's FAS Inc. Their response is always "that's such a great company!" Even the general public understands the quality of this company.

I have cherished every moment at Chico's FAS Inc., and I will miss working there during the school year. Since beginning my internship, my skills in every area have significantly improved, and I am more confident in myself. I have accomplished my goals for this summer and have proved to myself that I can do anything because of this wonderful opportunity. I encourage any student interested in working for a premier company to consider working for Chico's FAS Inc. Interning for Chico's FAS Inc. has been one of the best decisions I have ever made, and one I will never forget.

My Experience with Toys "R" Us!

By Amanda Brauen

I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to join the Toys "R" Us team for a 10-week management internship! I must say I never knew you could learn so much in such a short amount of time. The "Toys" internship was very well structured. I knew what I was going to do each week and what my role with the team would be during that time. I shadowed the assistant store managers of each department for approximately a week. By doing so, I could see different management styles and different responsibilities within the store.

During my internship, Toys encouraged me to participate in the Retail Smarter conference in Orlando, which taught me more about the industry. I was privileged to have a few lunches with the district managers to learn more about my performance and ways to continue to improve. I was also taken on a tour of the other types of stores that Toys has such as a stand-alone "Babies "R" Us", a pop up store, as well as a super "Toys "R" Us" format.

My experience at "Toys" over the summer was priceless. I learned so much about being a leader in a retail setting. Working with people and offering excellent customer service is something that I've always been passionate about. Toys "R" Us helped me to develop my skills as a retailer, but mostly they taught me how to lead a team to success!

Intern Experiences the Fast Paced Environment of AT&T

By Parsa Heydarpour

Most people would say AT&T stands for "American Telephone and Telegraph." On the first day, I quickly learned that AT&T internally stands for "at this time," and that is the truth! This retail internship is fast-paced, and I am faced with new challenges each day. Three weeks in the regional headquarters challenged me to build teamwork skills, and analyze and present in-depth information about the company and the market. Seven weeks in the Georgia market stores taught me hands-on retail experience communicating with customers, managing sales teams, and adapting to a fast, unpredictable environment. My responsibilities ranged from triaging at the front of the store, to presenting market analysis observations to the sales team. I shadowed the retail store manager and learned almost every facet of the position. I also got the opportunity to interact with executive leaders in the company on a personal level.

What sets AT&T apart from many other companies is the growth potential within the organization. I heard success stories of people starting their careers answering phones in call centers and now they are senior vice presidents of retail and strategy. The one thing that set AT&T apart in my mind was the fact that everyone here wanted me to succeed. This Fortune 12 company strives to be the best, and they invest tons of effort into molding future leaders of the telecommunications industry. The Retail Leadership Internship Program (RLIP) taught me valuable skills in customer experience, time management, team-building and professionalism. I took what I learned in marketing, sales and retail classes and applied it to my internship. I can see how I have matured from a college student to a working professional. I now know generally what to expect after graduation when I move into the real world.

RLIP is designed as a precursor to the graduate level training program RLDP, which trains young professionals to effectively manage AT&T retail stores in six months. This position rigorously tests individuals to shoot for the stars and wipe out the competition. There are periods of travel from city to city to gain as much experience as possible as well. The most amazing aspect of the internship is how it grew my appreciation for retail. Retailing at AT&T is not just selling phones. It's about developing myself and others to effectively communicate with customers. It's about trust. It's about learning healthy management skills and being patient with myself. It is a lot to learn in one summer, but it is a skillset that I will bring back to UF for my senior year.

Making an Impact Each day at Target

By Patricia Botero

Managing and leading a business has always been my biggest interest. That is why I decided to make retail one of my first options for my future career. Target offers a real executive job preview and many leadership opportunities throughout the internship while maintaining a fast, fun, and friendly environment. This opportunity with Target has been one of the most important learning and developmental opportunities I have ever had.

My internship consisted of 10 weeks. The first three weeks were mostly overall training in each department and the remaining seven weeks focused on my own department, which was logistics. It's amazing how much I have learned in a very short period of time. Today I can say that I fully understand what it takes to run and lead a store. I learned how each department is dependent on each other and how logistics impacts our overall store goal of driving profitable sales. It was amazing to see how much teamwork is involved in retail and how building successful partnerships with other team leaders can really help you perform your job easier and more successfully.

After a few weeks of my internship, I had the opportunity to express, implement and lead my own ideas. Furthermore, I got the opportunity to lead and manage the flow team (20- team members) on a daily basis. This was at first a very challenging task because of my lack of experience, but Target really provided me with the tools to set me up for success.

This internship really changed me. It has made me a better leader and a team player in all aspects. It helped me identify my top strengths and traits I can improve. In addition, this internship gave me a lot of confidence and made me realize I have the tools and the capacity to lead a team to a key goal.

After attending the career fair and some Target info sessions on campus, I quickly realized that Target could be a great opportunity for my future. After going through my internship, I definitely know retail is in my future career. It's perhaps one of the most exciting, diverse and fast-paced industries where you can see your impact on a daily basis. Another benefit from the internship was realizing I don't have to focus in only one department. I will have the opportunity to rotate across multiple departments.

Firestone Means Opportunity to Gator

By Daisy Monterosso

During my internship with Firestone Complete Auto Care, I learned that hard work and dedication can take you to high places. My experience began at the zone office in Atlanta. While there, I met other interns, other employees and executives from the Zone Human Resource Manager to the Zone Vice President. Their message was how Firestone is a company that hires and grows its team from within. I can honestly say that Firestone takes care of its associates. The company's training is very organized so we knew what we would be learning each week. The experience taught me how to appreciate good communication skills while working with a variety of people and situations. My manager took an interest in my progress as an intern and took the time to teach me what I needed to know and guide me through my trials and errors.

One amazing part of the internship was when all of the Firestone interns met in Chicago to be introduced to executives from the corporate office of Bridgestone Americas. We were able to voice our experiences and opinions about the internship and the company. To think that these individuals would take interest in our opinions was unique! Would I recommend this internship to other students? Absolutely! I learned so much about retail and about myself as I grew in this successful business.

JCPenney and a Retail Passion

By Shonique D. Thomas

I joined the jcpenney family because I was excited about how the internship focused on developing emerging talent. I wanted to be a part of a company that was committed to my personal growth and development.

I am grateful for my experience this summer because I learned lessons that transcend jcpenney and retail. For example, I learned to be passionate about what I do. When I'm passionate about my job, it hardly seems like work.

During my internship, there were many leadership opportunities to take advantage of. I was placed in charge of special projects that involved leading a team in completing a task. It taught me responsibility and accountability as I was responsible for the proper execution of these projects and held accountable for their outcome. It also gave me the opportunity to not only work as a team, but lead a team. I learned that I have to know each team member's strengths and weaknesses to properly delegate.

The internship changed me. I want to credit my store leader, Frank Wilson, for the bulk of this change. He placed me in situations where I would grow. He challenged me by adding responsibilities and expecting results. This helped me to practice time management and prioritization – useful skills in a fast-paced industry like retail. I also gained confidence because I was challenged to learn and participate. After partnering in meetings and presentations with district leaders, I feel my opinions and perspectives have been appreciated and valued.

This was a rewarding summer. I enjoyed helping associates realize their passion within jcpenney and retail. The experience altered my opinion of retailing and confirmed that it is an industry for me.

Sears Holdings Challenges Interns with Going Green

By David Garlitzke

Working at Sears Holding Corporation has been one of the most amazing experiences in my life. What separates it from other internships is how much you can dive into the company culture, learn everything there is to know about the company and get receive while you learn. Sears is truly unique in how many different product categories it offers in a variety of departments. One of the greatest things about my internship experience was the opportunity to fly to Chicago to see the corporate headquarters and hear about retail strategy from the CEO and VPs of the company. While there, I was able to meet all of the other fellow interns at Kmart and Sears stores around the United States.

The main reason why I chose retailing for my summer internship is that it sparked my curiosity. After studying retailing, I really wanted to learn more about what really happens behind the scenes. It is so much more than the typical stereotype of cashiering. While at Sears, I grew as the team guided me in a leadership role as I worked with hard lines, soft lines and vision. I feel that I left a footprint as I saw changes going into effect from suggestions I made after observing the business. For example, one of the projects that I had been involved in was helping the company reach a new level in going green. Collaborating with seven other interns and an internal project consultant from corporate, we developed new ideas to minimize paper waste in the company.

Working with the vision department was exciting because I was able to utilize my marketing skills learned in the classroom. It was amazing to actually see tangible examples and how this knowledge can help grow sales in real life retail situations. Overall I have to say this has been one of the most beneficial business experiences I ever had. I learned about business and I did it with people who cared about my development.

Macy's Develops Leaders

By Matthew Andrews

This summer I had the opportunity to intern with the largest department store in the world, Macy's. I was the sales manager of women's dresses and ready to wear, which is a $4 million business at my particular store. With my mentor assisting, Macy's trusted me to run the business for the duration of my internship. At first, I was pretty nervous. I didn't have a lot of retail experience, and I certainly didn't see myself working in retail. Now that Ihave completed the internship, I can see myself working only with Macy's. The thing about retail is that there will always be people buying, so basically there will always be a retail market.

Besides learning that I wanted to work in retail, Macy's turned me into a leader which I thought only developed with years of experience. I learned how to guide and coach seasoned employees. I learned how to train new hires. During the internship, I gathered information for my individual project. This year the project was on customer feedback and how Macy's can use feedback to customize each store and drive sales. At the end of the internship, I gave a final presentation in front of executives. I am excited to say that Macy's actually accepted my ideas and is now implementing them in the store. I was only there for eight weeks, but I made a difference!

Before the presentation was due, Macy's flew all the retail interns to their district corporate office in Miami. At this conference we discussed our projects and met top executives. What amazed me was how Macy's trusts the interns and supports our learning. Everyday there was an Executive in Charge in the store and Macy's encouraged and inspired us to take the position. There was an entire week where I was the EIC. This meant I was managing a $50 million store.

In addition, my experience with Macy's will help me when I return to UF. Being a sales manager, I learned that there are not enough hours in the day to get everything done. Many times while working, I was overwhelmed with tasks and had to learn how to prioritize. I can see how this new skill will help organize my life when I return for my senior year!

The Intriguing Hess Internship

By Chaz Wolfson

As I was progressing through the fall semester of my junior year, I saw more and more students getting internships. So I decided to follow up on a presentation in my seminar class about finding a career or an internship in retailing. I went in to see Cecilia Schulz who shared information about Hess.

After several conversations with the Hess recruiter, Nataliya Drogoman, I was offered the internship. I chose Hess because when I spoke with employees who worked for the company, they always seemed satisfied and pleased with their careers. I heard the internship was challenging, but had a decent amount of freedom.

The first part of the internship is about learning all of the positions and how the store functions. As I was learning the basic positions, I also handled various management tasks such as calculating inventory, entering invoices, reviewing profit and loss statements as well as analyzing the revenues and expenses.

The internship was better than I thought it would be, especially because I was given a fulfilling and challenging project. My project was to be a mystery shopper exploring different Hess stations and analyzing what needed to be improved. This is where an immense amount of higher thinking, education and creative ability came into to play. I felt that I gave my best back to Hess with this project.

The Hess internship taught me much about management and about myself. I am beyond pleased with this retail experience, and look forward to what lies ahead.

Luxury Retailing at its Best

By Bernie Zarco

The most intriguing part about interning is that you never know what it could lead to. The beauty is that you have been given the opportunity to shine; whether you do or not is up to you. This past summer, I interned at Christian Dior in New York City. As one of the most iconic brands in the fashion world, Dior's history and the story it tells is what truly differentiates the company. As a boutique intern, I was placed in their flagship boutique on 5th Avenue to learn all aspects of their retail environment. I learned stock management, customer service, sales, product, store operations and client managementamong other services. What made the experience special was how empowered I felt. I was fully interactive with both clientele and executives, which gave me the power to show what I was truly capable of.

Witnessing the intricacies of running a luxury boutique for such a powerful brand taught me so much about two very different worlds that go hand in hand. The first world, the back of the house, is where I learned the very detailed and robotic mechanics that go into operating the boutique. The second world, the front of the house, is where I learned to fully and properly interact with a luxury clientele. Learning to balance the continuity of both the operation and the selling of Dior's dream was key. I found that in addition to working hands on, what taught me the most was observing everyone in their own specific role. I learned invaluable skills and knowledge from some of the best sales associates, trainers and, most of all, managers in the world. Witnessing management deal with the difficulties of running their business while managing the various personalities and motives of their employees, was the best learning experience of my internship.

With so much opportunity to learn, perform and show my potential, I took the opportunity to go above and beyond. I worked extremely hard but, more importantly, I did what it took to shine and get noticed by some of the most influential people in fashion. The retail business is a tough world, but every day there truly is something new to go after. There is no room for complacency as every brand works day in and day out to take a step forward. I made my mark at Dior because I loved what I was doing. As an intern, take this opportunity to work hard, be passionate, and be innovative—doing so will take you far.

Surprised About Buying at Bealls

By Allison Cereghino

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a serious shopaholic. So when I was considering a career path for my future, buying seemed like a perfect fit. When I learned I had secured an internship win the buying offices of Beall's department stores, I was beyond thrilled. I imagined a glamorous summer spent in a sea of clothing, constantly picking out new fashions and meeting with vendors. On my first day I quickly realized my summer was not going to go exactly as I had planned...

My first stop was in the housewares department. The buyer assigned to me bought for several different departments including Tervis, dinnerware/flatware, gourmet food, drinkware, kitchen electrics, cookware and more. Although she bought a variety of different products, none of them were clothing. Still, I set out to learn everything I could from her and the others in my area.

Although I was initially disappointed that I would not be working with "fashion," I grew to love each of the departments in which I worked. On top of my daily responsibilities such as entering and maintaining purchase orders, declaring new items into our computer system and proofing ads, my project for the summer was to revamp the cookware department. I was tasked with getting rid of products that were not selling, bringing in new products and brands, improving the visual displays of cookware in our stores, and bettering cookware on our e-commerce site. I had the opportunity to meet with vendors and present my ideas to our visual and e-commerce departments. My project culminated in a presentation to the President and CMO of the company.

My internship with Beall's challenged me in ways I was not expecting. This summer was a time of personal and professional development which I do not think I would have been able to reach working somewhere else. Interning with a smaller company allowed me to have a more hands on experience; something that I may not have had at a larger company. The buyers at Beall's are responsible for much more than I had imagined. Buying is so much more than picking out pretty clothes. Although it was very different than my initial expectations, I can't imagine a better job for me. There is nothing more rewarding than seeing a product or display in the stores and knowing that it was your hard work that got it there.

Retail Navigator

This electronic newsletter from The David F. Miller Center for Retailing Education and Research is issued throughout the year to provide updates on what is happening in retailing at the University of Florida. Information regarding student outreach, jobs, internships, research and retailing connections throughout the country will be included. We hope you enjoy seeing what Gators are doing in the retail industry!


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