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 2, 2015
In this issue:
- Gators Experience Executive Internships
- An Emerging Leader at JCPenney
- Bealls Challenges Interns to Create New Brands
- Bridgestone Offers Opportunities for Gators
- Gator Works with Buyers to Decide Upon Assortments
- Macy’s Trains Leaders
- Digital Marketing at Chico’s
- Keeping Customers First at Harvey’s Supermarket
Gators Experience Executive Internships
The summer of 2015 provided unlimited stories of successful internships. More than 200 Gators from a variety of majors partnered with retail executives to learn how business operates from understanding software in the corporate headquarters to developing programs to help customers shopping in multimillion dollar stores. Needless to say, Gators work to get results. Many have finalized research projects that save the company money, develop programs to increase sales or streamline efficiencies. Seeing these real world experiences, students are able to decide upon retail as their destination careers. What follows is a small selection of amazing stories of students transformed by the industry.
An Emerging Leader at JCPenney
By Brandi Applebaum
I could not have chosen a better company to intern with this summer than JCPenney. The company culture and enthusiasm for retail sets them apart from the other programs to which I applied. For example, they have an annual spirit week and I was given the task – along with the other store intern – of creating theme days and making a flyer to promote it. I decorated the break room with banners, tablecloths and decorations to make the week more festive than solely dressing up. We encouraged associates to wear their favorite team jersey, dress up in their personal style, and had a throwback attire day! We called it #TBTatJCP and encouraged associates to take pictures in front of the selfie wall.
I chose the emerging leader program because it has a high retention rate of interns and there is a strong possibility for a job offer at the end of it. This program also takes place in stores and although I hope to be a retail executive, I believe the stores are the right place to start my retail career. I considered a retailing internship for this summer because the skills you learn and use in retail are applicable to any other position. You learn to manage a team, prioritize and multi-task effectively, and learn appropriate office behavior. The store, although a place for shoppers, is still my office and I have to act accordingly.
The internship has developed my personal interaction skills and competency on the sales floor, and my competency will grow with more experience. I’ve been given tasks and projects, such as spirit week, and complete them timely. I’ve gained confidence and feel empowered to make decisions I feel are best for a situation, something that JCPenney encourages all associates and management to do. I’ve learned that teamwork isn’t always with a small group of four. For example, the entire store is a team. If we don’t communicate efficiently and effectively across all departments, there’s room for error.
One thing that surprised me was how much I applied from class in my internship. I took introduction to retailing systems and management while doing my internship and I found a lot of the material to be easy because I had experienced it in the store, such as with RFID and restocking processes.
I struggle to pick one part of the internship that was the most amazing. I learned an incredible amount and yes, I did make mistakes, but I wasn’t chastised for doing so. The situation was evaluated and I learned what to do the next time it happens. I’ve grown so much as a leader and will definitely use my experience in this internship later on. If I had to reapply for internships, I would intern with JCPenney again.
Bealls Challenges Interns to Create New Brands
By Sela Dougherty
This summer I interned at Beall’s Inc. I worked in the Outlet as a buyer and I was assigned a mentor in the Women’s Apparel department. I wanted an internship in retail because the industry has always fascinated me. As someone who has an interest in fashion and trends, retail is a great industry to gain experience in because it is fast-paced with a lot of opportunity to grow. My internship experience was insightful, engaging and a lot of fun. It was definitely different than other internships because of how involved it was. In addition to buying I was able to gain experience in a lot of different areas, such as planning, product development, marketing and store operations.
I worked on several projects during this internship. The first one was developing a strategy that builds brand awareness around new store openings involving local grass root initiatives and viral digital/social campaigns. My group and I created a viral commercial and a contest to promote the brand and draw people to the grand openings. The second project, we actually already completed, was the creation of two new private brand labels for Beall’s Outlet. The first brand was an infant/toddler baby girl boutique line and the second was a men’s sportswear line specific to hunting, hiking and fishing. We were involved in identifying the target customer, creating the brand names and developing labels and hang-tags for the clothes. It is cool to think that one of our ideas could end up in stores
Beall’s Inc is a great company to work for. Everyone is friendly and helpful and they were genuinely invested in me as an employee and as a person. Beall’s also is celebrating their 100th year this year which definitely sets them apart from other companies. Not many department stores make it to 100 years which speaks volumes about their company ethics, employee relations and business model.
There were lots of opportunities to grow during the ten weeks. I remember my first day not knowing anything, I was not even aware of corporate etiquette. I learned quickly though and by the end I was helping make purchasing decisions and picking clothes that would go into the stores. All of the interns grew a great deal during the various group projects we were assigned. I learned a lot about working with a team to get something done in a business setting, which is a lot different than the school environment.
I think it is definitely beneficial to get experience in a corporate environment. I have learned a great deal about how a retail company operates and the extensive process behind getting merchandise in stores. The retail industry is a lot more complex than I thought prior to this summer. Throughout this internship, we really have touched on all aspects of the business from the distribution center to the LOCC to product development. This is incredibly valuable for a future career in retail or any area. My mentor was really great in showing me all parts of the buying process and this internship definitely will give me a new perspective in my classes as I finish my degree.
After this experience I feel more confident about my abilities and more prepared for entering the workforce. The most amazing part that I will take away is my relationships with the other employees, my mentor and the other interns. Working with all of these people was a huge part of the internship experience and I really value our time spent together. Overall I learned so much over these past ten weeks and I am so happy I spent my summer at Beall’s!
Bridgestone Offers Opportunities for Gators
By Gabby Giordano
When choosing my summer internship I had laid out criteria that I was looking for, but my number one interest boils down to one word: opportunity. When I stepped into an information session at the Retailing Center with recruiters from Bridgestone Corporation, there was one word that I heard over and over and over again and that was just it: opportunity. The company is the best at what they do, being the largest tire and rubber manufacturer and distributer as well as the leader in complete automotive care. However, Bridgestone looks to not just be great in their field, but simply great. With aspirations to become one of the great leaders in customer service, the company is looking to grow and with that growth they are looking for fresh, enthusiastic, and motivated individuals to grow with them.
That’s where we as interns come in-we are fresh, enthusiastic, motivated individuals who the company not only wants to hire, but wants to develop and grow a career with. Bridgestone has a catalyst program that is essentially a career path in any direction that you choose if you get hired-whether it be finance, marketing, management, human resources, or operations. To get there, though, the journey starts in a Firestone or TiresPlus retail store.
The first week of the internship began in Chicago with all of the other interns nationwide. I don’t want to spoil anything in case there are any future interns reading this, but it was an unforgettable experience and got me both ready and even more excited to begin my time at the store. If selected to become a catalyst teammate full time, Bridgestone also flies you out to Nashville to meet with the other teammates and executives at the national headquarters.
Once at my Firestone location, the real work began. I am not going to say it was easy, but like all great things, it was worth it. To be honest, I knew nothing about cars and nothing about tires. Although that made me a little nervous, I did not let it get the best of me. I knew that I would have to step up and learn, but I was ready. Each and every teammate really made the effort to take me under their wing and teach me. They taught me not only about cars, but also about customer service, finance, sales, management, teambuilding, and leadership. I had the opportunity to sell, to attend management meetings, to participate in conference calls, to run meetings and lead teams, and finally to run my own sales campaign and sales event.
Rather than getting a narrow view of business with a finance-specific internship or a marketing-specific internship, I was able t see how a business is run as a whole all the way from the store level up to the corporate headquarters. I am excited to see where Bridgestone rises to in the upcoming years. The company has great potential to grow, and I hope that they see the potential for me to grow with them!
Gator Works with Buyers to Decide Upon Assortments
By Victoria Hernandez
When it was time to apply for internships, I knew I wanted to intern at Macy’s at Herald Square in New York City. New York City is the world’s retail center. Macy’s is the best retailer to intern with, because it defines the retail industry.
I interned at Macy’s corporate business center as an Omni Buyer Intern for Macy’s Ready To Wear Swimwear. For one of my projects, I created a competitive analysis. I researched Macy’s swimwear competitors and identified what they do best. Then I presented my findings to the Omni Buying team and recommended actions Macy’s could take to improve upon what competitors are doing. In a group project I determined a way to apply Macy’s in-store localization strategy online. I conducted extensive research and communicated with my group members and other people in various Macy’s departments. I delivered a successful presentation to Macy’s highest executives.
My favorite part of my internship was helping the swimwear team prepare the buyer’s presentation to upper management to show everything she plans on buying for next season. I enjoyed seeing the planning that goes into buying an assortment. It was a valuable experience because I participated in the team’s review of every piece of the assortment as they decided what was best to buy to satisfy customers and provide them an excellent shopping experience. Also, I enjoyed getting paid to look at swimsuits all day!
As my Macy’s internship ended, I learned that a retail career is more than just folding shirts at the local mall. A retail career involves many aspects of business. For example, I learned about the tools and metrics Macy’s uses to analyze customer sales data and better understand customer wants. I learned how to manipulate data and metrics that influence and increase customer purchases. The analytical thinking involved in retail makes each day exciting!
My internship helped me understand how life could be after graduation. I experienced working five days a week, enjoying weekends off, and being financially responsible for numerous expenses. More importantly, I appreciated my time as a UF student. My internship validated my UF experiences and confirmed that UF prepared me for the work place. I look forward to a rewarding business career where I analyze data trends to provide customers with the best assortment and they continue coming back to enjoy the fun elements of shopping!
Macy’s Trains Leaders
By Kendall Williams
Working as a Macy’s Store Management Intern this summer was one of the best experiences I could have ever asked for. The internship program is unlike any other, in regards to the training that you receive and the amount of responsibilities you are able to get involved with. Besides working closely with a sales management mentor, I was exposed to various positions throughout Macy’s and able to see how I would be able to progress with the company. I shadowed the visual display team, the merchandising team manager, human resources and even traveled to the district office to shadow a district merchant. Macy’s is devoted to providing the best employment opportunities for their executives and associates. The company is also an active leader in the community providing support to charities across the globe.
I wanted to work in retail for my summer internship because ultimately that’s where I want to end up in my career. I really wanted to gain more hands-on experience at an executive level in a retail position. Retail is my passion and I was interested in interning in an industry that is constantly growing and evolving. There are so many things I learned from in my position this summer as a store management intern. Probably my biggest takeaway would be learning to adapt to every situation and finding a way to be successful to drive results. I was given ample leadership opportunities including coaching associates, leading my team, executing a project and driving sales.
The internship opened my eyes to my potential as a leader. It definitely built my confidence level and ultimately prepared me for my future career as a retail leader. I feel completely capable of taking on a role in a management position. I was able to grow into leader on an executive level, which is not something I could have gained without my internship. Throughout my internship I saw a change in the way I take on tasks, I went from being afraid of failure to taking on all responsibilities with a self-reliant attitude. With the support of my fellow coworkers, I was able to collaborate with them on coaching, increasing the MAGIC in the store and learning their strategies for success.
As I previously mentioned, a part of my internship was devoted to a project that I was working on throughout my eight weeks in the Women’s Shoes department. My project specifically focused on MyClient, a Macy’s initiative to build customer relationships to drive repeat business throughout the store. I created a strategy to individually coach each associate to help them understand the MyClient system or utilize the benefits of the system. For my project to be successful, I analyzed reports in MyClient and worked closely with my team through coaching activities to collaborate on ways to help them better perform in their position and ultimately see positive results.
I feel that the most amazing part of my internship would be the hands-on experience that I was able to gain, and the responsibilities I was given. My mentor involved me in all areas of the business and really allowed me to learn from every outlet that was available. I am so grateful for my internship with Macy’s this past summer because I now feel that I am able to take on executive level retailing positions with the knowledge to succeed and the confidence to match.
Digital Marketing at Chico's
By Emily McTiernan
My experience at Chico’s FAS allowed me to see more about the digital marketing world than I have experienced on campus. I really liked getting to learn so much about new marketing concepts and also becoming involved in a variety of aspects of digital commerce. I was able to meet with a variety of people in different departments during my time here and was really encouraged to find out what I liked and didn’t like. I was surprised at how important the customer is from start to finish. Chico’s is different from the rest because even through digital marketing, the customer is considered so many times along the way and it is optimized for what will be the best for her.
I considered retailing because I wanted to do marketing within a consumer product business. For me, I know that working within a retailing environment is much more suited to me than another type of business. Although I wasn’t often working with product since my component was online marketing, I still learned a lot about different parts of the retail business and about the product.
I was given the opportunity to do a competitive analysis project from start to finish on emails, paid search, display, and rewards programs. I eventually presented this to the Chico’s brand and they found it to be very valuable knowledge and even had me follow up on this project with some more data analysis. This was a great opportunity to grow and become more confident in my work. By presenting to directors and VP level executives, I definitely gained confidence in my work. Overall, I felt I was able to own tasks at Chico’s and was given a lot of independent responsibility to lead my own projects. I felt like a team member more than an intern and was able to work with a variety of partners within marketing and cross functional partners to really collaborate a lot within the business.
I learned what I liked and didn’t like working with in a business environment. This internship changed my view not only on what sort of marketing I liked, but what sort of work environment I liked as well. I have decided that I definitely want to work in digital and this internship opened my eyes to areas of marketing such as the creative side that I wanted to become more involved in.
Having a marketing background and understanding consumer behavior allowed to me to apply these principles to the digital marketing world. I definitely liked having a background to help bridge the gap to make up for what I didn’t know specifically about some areas of digital marketing.
I got to travel to Fort Lauderdale to our photo studio to see a shoot that would be used for the website. This was the most interesting part to me and sparked my interest in creative marketing. This was a very different experience for me and was amazing to see this in the real world.
This experience has definitely broadened my understanding of retailing as well as see as how many pieces really go into it. There are so many different departments within a retail company that you can find your interest within almost anything. This has broadened my interest in retail and fashion and I am grateful to have worked within a marketing department at a retail company.
Keeping Customers First at Harvey’s Supermarket
By Evan Morris
A year ago, I could have never told you that I would spend my summer working at the Harvey’s Supermarket in Melrose, Florida. Of course, I had no idea what Harvey’s was at the time, and barely knew where Melrose was, but now I can say that I will truly miss working at this tiny grocer in a one traffic light town.
Harvey’s is a chain of stores based out of Georgia and was recently bought by Southeastern Grocers, the parent company of Winn-Dixie. Part of what made my experience in the store unique was the opportunity to help the store grow under the influence of its new owner.
I watched firsthand as our back room was completely reorganized to a new system of Location Based Inventory. I was there as corporate rolled out a revolutionary computer-based training system, focused on improving associate’s skills on a daily basis. I helped administer audit training with an Asset Protection Specialist from SEG, as our team learned new rules for keeping the store safe and fresh. I even got to conduct interviews for associates and hire a new employee by myself. These opportunities were constant reminders of how important it is to work for a company that has room to grow, one that is trying its hardest to reach the top, and is willing to try new ideas to get there.
I also participated in a massive marketing and philanthropic campaign as all SEG brands donated their profits from the highly lucrative 4th of July to the Wounded Warrior, and encouraged customers to make donations as well, raising over $3 Million for veterans in need.
Just as exciting though, was that I was there as my store broke the Harvey’s record for most sales in a single day! The secret to this accomplishment, my store director, Anthony, said, was taking care of our customers.
I had always heard that “the customer is always right”, but never seen it so fully put into action before this internship. Anthony has an open door policy with his customers, and sometimes fills his desk with notes of their requests. In the end, this attitude pays off. I had countless shoppers tell me that they loved our store and would never shop anywhere else. If I can carry Anthony’s lesson of putting people first, whether customers, associates, or vendors, with me to my next job, I know I will have a successful future.
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!