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: Issue 4, 2013
In this issue:
- Summer Internships 2013 Introduced Retailing as Business Experiences
- Learning by Doing with Walgreens
- The Customer Experience at Firestone
- JCPenney Offers a Variety of Experiences for Interns
- Global Sourcing Inspires Gator at Chico’s
- Taking Charge at Macy’s
- Bealls Teaches Gator How to Buy
- Sears Holdings Internship Experience was About Change!
- Gaining Confidence on Corporate Projects at Dick’s Sporting Goods
Summer Internships Introduced Retailing as Business Experiences
Approximately 200 Gators were exposed to retailing this past summer. Internships ranged from management and merchandising positions to new experiences which include social media and e-commerce. All Gators had the opportunity to attend the Retailing Smarter Conference in Orlando for two days of networking and learning from top executives. The focus of the training program is to expose students to the business of retailing and to dispel its myths. Students competed the internship understanding that retailing is business…big business. Students can now align their studies with internships to help them conclude that retailing is a terrific career.
Learning by Doing with Walgreens
By Matt Hieronimus
My internship with Walgreens has been great, and I could not have asked for anything better. What sets this internship apart is how much responsibility I was given in my role. The first half of the internship was mostly training, but the second half has been about applying that training when I assumed the role of store manager. It’s been very exciting to have this kind of responsibility and gain that much real-world retail experience, especially in such a short amount of time. Walgreens is different than a lot of retail companies because of its pharmacy. Taking care of a customer’s medical needs carries a lot more weight and importance, and it becomes even more crucial to make sure that the customer has a positive store experience.
This internship has validated my decision to pursue a career in retailing, and I couldn’t be more excited about my future. Through this experience, I’ve learned how to hone my leadership abilities and become a more effective communicator. This internship has also showed me how important communication is to the success of any business. Without a clear channel of communication between a manager and an employee or between a store and the customer, you allow chances for interference to occur, which leads to confusion or poor execution. I believe that this internship has changed me for the better by helping me improve my time and priority management skills. Those two skills are very important in the fast-paced world of retailing, and by taking the time to improve them I know it will lead to a more successful career.
There have been quite a few opportunities for growth through this internship, both from a personal and from a career standpoint. I was able to attend the UF Smarter Retailing Conference this summer which was a great networking opportunity and a valuable tool in gaining knowledge from retailing industry leaders. This experience has also helped me gain confidence, but not in the way you would expect. It has helped me gain the confidence that you can make mistakes and still have your job at the end of the day. Retail is all about learning by doing, which is probably what I love most about it. You’re going to make mistakes in this job, but you’ll be able to successful apply that knowledge the next time you have a similar situation.
The Customer Experience at Firestone
By Ashley Faber
I interned at Firestone Complete Auto Care throughout this summer because I wanted to be involved with a retailer that offers opportunities for growth. Needless to say, it was a great experience. During this internship I learned how retailing applies to automotive work. It varied from other retailing internships because the products are complex with high price points making customer service a vital part of the sale.
It amazed me as to what I learned. I learned about the merchandise and the processes that accompany automotive care. Everyone is different so I fine-tuned my customer service skills and understood how to adapt each approach to cater to each customer and their particular situation.
The internship involved activities above and beyond selling tires. One Saturday, I took part in a sales competetition where interns had to meet sales goals and make tire displays. I traveled to Atlanta, Jacksonville and Chicago with other interns for a variety of training classes. During these training trips we participated in group activities and projects, heard from company executives and toured the company facilities.
My internship was a positive experience that reshaped my view of retailing. My perspective onretailing has become broader as I now have an appreciation of all of the hard work that goes into a single product and transaction. I learned of the impact retailing has on the economy and was able to apply my knowledge of consumer behavior and marketing to help sell products. My academic experience taught me how to position products and services offered in a positive light to help customers. I felt empowered to be able to positively impact a customer’s situation and make their day better. I enjoyed working for Firestone Complete Auto Care and have gained an appreciation for the customer experience.
JCPenney Offers a Variety of Experiences for Interns
By Kaylee Kohfeldt
I spent 10 weeks interning with JC Penney and the experience is unlikely to be something I will ever forget. I learned a lot about how retail stores operate, which was my main goal in choosing a retail internship.
Each person I met during my internship had a unique career path and inspirational ideas which I know I will take with me for years to come. Everyone here at JC Penney seemed to be open to any question that may have popped into my head (and believe me, there were a lot!)
One project I was especially proud of was our charity round-up program, which benefited the Boy’s and Girl’s club in the month of July. We got in contact with a local club whose members came in and talked to the whole team about how much the club had impacted their lives for the better. We had team members wear blue to raise awareness and we announced fun facts about the organization to all our customers throughout the day. It is inspiring that such a large company still cares about our community and the programs that make it great.
I learned about every aspect of a store’s operation. I observed how a Penney’s stockroom operates when trucks arrive for deliveries. I worked on the floor, and I was given a mentor who taught me about leadership. I also worked on a final project: Improving the customer service experience. I looked over surveys that customers had taken and created an action plan to produce better results. I will be presenting my plan to all the leaders at my store, as well as the district leader. With all the learning I have done, I am confident that it will go well!
When I come back to school, I know I will have so much more knowledge than I started with this summer. I know I will continue to see real-life ties in everything I learn in my classes from here on out. I am sad to leave a store I have come to see as my own, but I am excited to learn even more about retailing.
Global Sourcing Inspires Gator at Chico’s
By Marissa Goldberg
After pursuing a minor in Retailing at UF, I wanted to get real-world experience in the retail industry. My internship at Chico’s FAS has been fast-paced and exciting. My role in the Global Sourcing department has given me the opportunity to interact with departments responsible for moving a garment through its lifecycle. The most amazing part of my internship was getting to see the entire process from an idea’s conception to a garment’s production. The Global Sourcing department is responsible for negotiating with vendors and its cross-functional team to begin production of a high-quality product with the lowest cost possible. This department plays an active role in major milestone meetings throughout the year which determine the clothing lines featured in upcoming seasons.
Chico’s FAS is a unique company in that it has fostered a very open corporate culture. Everyone I’ve met has been so friendly and eager to teach me new things. Even though I am completely new to retail, I am able to find ways to relate my major to my current position. I have been fortunate enough to land in a team that supports me as I learn more about the retail industry. I’ve had a handful of informational interviews with other departments, and I am truly getting a bird’s eye view of the Chico’s FAS company.
This internship stands apart from others because I have learned something new since Day 1. I feel like my time here has been worthwhile, and that I have made a contribution to my team. In addition to building friendships among my team members, the internship program has resulted in the 60-plus Chico’s FAS interns becoming a family. As part of the internship program, we have had numerous training sessions and confidence-building activities to aid us in our transition into the company and help us become the leaders of our internship experience. Additionally, the constant communication and collaboration with my Global Sourcing team and with my fellow interns has given me valuable teamwork experience.
Throughout my internship, I have learned more about myself and my professional goals. With my new experience in corporate retail, I have become a well-rounded professional. My internship has shown me that the retail industry is just as fast-paced and prone to change as I imagined it would be!
Taking Charge at Macy’s
By Kaleb Browning
I am interning with Macy’s in their store management department this summer. This internship has been great! What really sets this internship apart from others is that Macy’s gives me a lot of freedom. Macy’s has certain activities for me to do, but how I spend my day is really up to me. They allow me to learn in my own way and at my own pace.
I’ve always been interested in retail, and I know that Macy’s is a great company to work for based on conversations with advisors and fellow students. I have learned so much in the short time I have been with Macy’s. There is so much that goes into being a manager within the organization and this internship is such a great start. I’ve developed skills like time management and conflict resolution that I will need regardless where I work in the future. There is definitely growth involved with the internship. I learned that it is Macy’s goal to keep its interns, enroll them in its Executive Development Program and fast-track them for a Store Manager position out of school. This was certainly a confidence-building internship because Macy’s gave me the roles and responsibility of a Sales Manager. As an intern, that really made me feel as though I was a part of the executive team. Also, Macy’s paired me with a senior executive to be a mentor. Having a person who has been with the company for so long and has so much knowledge was invaluable. There is one large project that the program is focused around and it is to see how well the interns can develop an action plan and implement that plan to try and drive sales for a certain function of our business. This project has been very challenging and has forced me to think differently. Also included in the internship is a two-day trip to Miami, which was paid for completely by the company. It was a good chance to work with fellow interns from the southeast as well as the district team from Miami. This internship has definitely altered my view of retailing in a positive way. It is a new experience every day, and it definitely keeps me on my toes. I hope to continue with retailing and Macy’s after graduation!
Bealls Teaches Gator How to Buy
By Christine Ash
As an incoming senior Business Management major, I had never really considered that a career in retail, let alone in the corporate office, would be the right fit for me.
Being a retail intern with Beall’s is a bit different than being a retail intern in many other places, especially since I’m not working in a store or learning how to be a manager. Instead, every day, I head into the corporate office and learn more and more about the buying office and what it means to be a buyer for Beall’s. Being a buyer for Beall’s is much different than being a buyer for a big, national department store for a variety of reasons. The biggest difference, though, is that at Beall’s, there is one buyer that is responsible for his or her department, and he or she basically has the freedom to make decisions that will affect the entire company.
Initially, I had not considered retailing for an internship, but when I met the Beall’s team at Career Showcase in the fall, and then had the pleasure to follow up with them in spring, I was sold on interning for this company, and I am so very glad that I did. I have learned more than I could ever have imagined this summer. Going into this internship, I had a brief outline of what a buyer did, but now, I know that no two days are exactly the same in the buying office. At the beginning of summer, I had no clue what I wanted to do when I graduated, but now, I can’t imagine doing anything other than buying.
I have been able to meet with the President of the company I work for, done a group intern project that has allowed me to work on a team and meet some great people, and grown as a person and a member of the work force. My confidence in my future has improved, and I feel like I am now ready to enter the real world after graduating from UF this spring. I have been able to meet with vendors, make product assortments that are tied to financial plans, travelled to stores to implement changes, and take what I have learned in school and apply it to a real job in the real world. It’s hard to choose which part of this internship has been the most amazing, but just learning what the buying offices does, and how much I can relate to it are definitely up there. It sounds corny, but this experience has changed my life.
I never considered retail an option, but now, knowing the challenges it offers, there is nowhere else that I’d rather start my career. After years and years of having people asking me what I want to do, I can finally tell them with confidence that I want to be a retail buyer.
Sears Holdings Internship Experience was About Change!
By Diana Weng
Retail has made me more confident in myself. After speaking in front of the Store Manager, Assistant Store Managers and District Manager on different projects throughout the internship, my confidence grew more and more
I learned that you have to be bold to create change. Change is not simply just thinking of the solution. In retail, change is being the one brave enough to point out an area of opportunity and taking responsibility. That is what our projects were about: Noticing areas of opportunity and taking action. The best training I got was implicit. I learned the way managers think, and what it takes to run a retail store (which is a lot, by the way). It takes so much dedication and patience. Learning from people is the most valuable type of training. Retail is a great opportunity, and I recommend it. all great, but I can read anywhere at any time. Learning from people is the most valuable type of training. Retail is a great opportunity, and I recommend it.
Gaining Confidence on Corporate Projects at Dick’s Sporting Goods
By Steven Felder
My experience at Dick’s Sporting Goods started long before I was a student at Warrington. When I decided to be a business major, I began looking at companies I wanted to eventually work for. I knew I wanted to somehow be connected to sports since that is my true passion.
It was then I came across DSG, which was an up and coming Fortune 500 company that was still pretty early in its growth stage. At that point, DSG had about 300 stores nationwide. I read up on their internship program and thought “This is exactly what I’m looking for.” After meeting a recruiter at Career Showcase three years ago, I’m still here.
Working for DSG has been an awesome experience. The company promotes a healthy active lifestyle and really places importance on maintaining a good work life balance. This is something that’s not so easy to understand the importance of, until you are actually putting in 40+ hours, so working for a company that places emphasis on that is a major plus. DSG provides many outlets to release from work, including a fully staffed gym onsite, company-wide intramural sports, and my favorite and awesome cafeteria (as lunch breaks are highly encouraged).
Thus far I’ve really gotten a taste of what a buyer in my area goes through. I was placed with Licensed MLB/NBA apparel and I came in during the last two rounds of the NBA playoffs, which meant I had to hit the ground running. With my department covering two leagues and only having three people, including myself, I had to get caught up on how to do things fairly quickly. I enjoyed the challenge of having to learn a lot in a small amount of time because it has shown me that I can handle real-world challenges. That’s one of the biggest things I’ve learned thus far in my internship. In school, when given a task or assignment, we usually receive an outline on how to complete the project. In the real world, tasks or projects are given and often followed by “ Work on that and show me what you come up with in an hour or two.” Being confident in dealing with ambiguity is a must because often times you may not know exactly what “that” is or how to go about getting it done exactly but, nonetheless, you must be confident in your procedures.
My main project has been examining our kids business within licensed and spotting areas for potential “wins and losses.” Working on my project has involved working with people from within the buying team, planning and ecomm, so “group work” definitely isn’t over after college. In fact it helps to garner as much experience working with others as possible in college because very seldom will professional work entail you working completely alone.
All in all, I’ve loved my experience at DSG. The company is a great working environment and I’ve seen that retail goes far beyond folding clothes. There are processes in every step of a business function that go into making sure store #1 operates just as smoothly as #500. It’s a fast environment, and there seems to be always something else to do, but seeing your business unit do well is quite rewarding.
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!