Bloom Where You Are Planted

Greetings,

This is week 4 and I am officially half way done with the internship! This past week was a very exciting one for all of the Macy’s Store Management Interns in the North Central Region. We all had the opportunity to go out to Chicago for the Intern Summit. At this 2-day event, we get to meet the other interns, network with senior executives, understand different facets of the analytical side of Macy’s business, explore the city, and volunteer at a local food bank. Hopefully this post will give you all an idea of what we did!

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Let’s go!

Day 1:
Day one was packed with events and we were always on the go. We started the day off with a warm welcome from the CEO of Macy’s, Mr. Terry Lundgren, which was given through a podcast. Mr. Lundgren provided a lot of helpful insights and answered questions that the interns had for him. The biggest takeaway for me was him telling us to, “bloom where you are planted.” Focus where you are at the time and do your job well, and people will notice you. Additionally, be curious and keep asking questions. Let people know where you want to be and what your goals are. This message gave me a lot of inspiration and motivation to finish my last 8 weeks at Macy’s with a different mindset.

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Following the podcast, we had a quick lunch courteous of Macy’s to prepare us for our next event. The team invited a few Sales Managers up from the Macy’s State Street store to give us an overview of analyzing Macy’s business through an analytical side. Friends, in retail there are a lot of numbers to look at. Every family of business, department, vendors, etc. are all broken down into numbers by the detail, and it is our job to analyze those numbers and find a solution given what we have. My team and I were assigned to the luggage department in the State Street store. We took a trip over there to analyze the entire department to see if there are any recommendations we can give based off the knowledge we have. Walking through the 9-floor store was an eye opening experience to see the size and scale of this particular store. Coming from a small store based in Cincinnati with just 4 floors of departments, this store in Chicago was a sight to see. You can see the different brands that they offer through the My Macy’s initiative, the different products they carry, and how each floor is merchandised based on the customer. Overall, the assignment and time spent in this store was a tremendous learning opportunity for us!

Macy's State Street store in Chicago

Macy’s State Street store in Chicago

After we were done in the store, all of us got on a bus and we headed to the Chicago Cubs game to enjoy the night in Chicago. It was an eventful day with many exciting opportunities to learn. Many of us were drained as we had to get ready for day two very early the next morning!

Day 2: 

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Rise and shine, Chicago.

Day two was a quick one for us. We started off very early in the morning with some breakfast and a guest speaker, the DVP (District Vice President) of Chicago, Brad Poterack. He shared with us his role in Macy’s and how he got to this position. Overall, he was just a very intelligent guy with a wealth of knowledge to share with us. Thank you, Mr. Poterack!

Afterwards, we had a panel of full-time EDPs (Executive Development Program) come in to share their experiences with us at Macy’s. The EDP is the full-time position that the Store Management Interns could potentially get offered right after college. It is basically a fast-track program with a goal of getting us to the executive levels within the company. You can see all of the interns in the room switching gears and paying full attention at what the EDPs had to say. Given this opportunity, I wanted to ask the EDPs as many questions possible to learn from them, and to see if I can see myself in this position. To say the least, it was an insightful morning filled with information that directly impacts us to see if this is the right path for all of the interns!

We had a quick lunch afterwards, packed our bags, and headed to our last event of the summit. The entire team volunteered at one of Chicago’s largest food banks, the Greater Chicago Food Depository. One reason why I love working at Macy’s is their culture of always giving back to the community. At Macy’s, we strongly believe in the value of giving back to the communities of where we live and work. That is why in 2013, Macy’s Inc. giving exceeded $73 million and 134,000 volunteer hours of community service! That is incredible, and it goes to show that giving back is always in fashion at Macy’s.

At the food bank, our team was assigned to pack apples, carrots, and potatoes. Within 2 hours or so, our team packed a total of 12,488 lbs of apples, carrots, and potatoes. We worked hard, bonded with each other, and had fun while doing it. Definitely a great way to end the 2-day Intern Summit with Macy’s.

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The entire North Central Region Interns, Chicago 2015.

Hopefully this post provided some insights on what we did in Chicago! I will end with this quote that was brought up during one of our sessions:

“Learn to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.”

Until next time,
Justin

 

Seeing How Others Perform

Hello all,

Week 3 at Macy’s went by fast! I am slowly grasping how the business operates day-to-day and understanding more about the retail world. You know how people say the retail world is “fast-paced”? I am finding that out firsthand. There is so much to learn at first, and it may seem hard to keep up with all of the information. Everyone learns differently, but for me, I learn the most efficiently by seeing and experiencing it, as well as learning from others. That is why I was so glad to find out that Macy’s incorporated a weekly Talking SHOP (Seeing How Others Perform) with various people within the company. This activity requires me to network with other employees from sales associates to district executives. It is quite simple actually. You take time out of your day to sit down with them, talk with them, ask them questions, listen to their experiences, ask for feedback and advice, and then shadow them if time permitted. It is amazing how much you can actually learn from one individual. These are people who have been working at Macy’s for awhile now, and have been very successful every step of the way. I had to seize the opportunity to pick their brains and apply them throughout my internship. This week I had the opportunity to do a Talking SHOP with my sales associates, the district director of human resources, and also the store manager. The feedback and advice that they provided is invaluable and it gave me a sense of motivation to go above and beyond.

I encourage all of you to constantly do a Talking SHOP wherever you are. Even if your company doesn’t give you a platform to do this, like Macy’s does, go out and do it yourself! You will have the opportunity to meet so many successful individuals in your every day life and in your work place. Grasp the opportunity to learn and see how they perform, what they are doing right, and apply all of that into your daily tasks and routines. You will be amazed at how much you can learn.

Other than that, I am preparing for next week here at Macy’s! It is going to be a big week as all of the interns in the North Central Region will be traveling to Chicago for an intern summit. I am stoked for this opportunity, so stay tuned next week for more updates!

All the best,
Justin

Getting an Offer

Some companies have a structured system for how they treat internships during the actual internship and after the internship in the form of giving offers.  For example, (and I know this from living with two P&G interns) P&G will contact their interns going into their senior year of college to let them know if they are getting a job offer or not (the timing of the call is different depending on the department).  At P&G, there is a structure on how to handle all of the talented interns that just finished their summer at P&G.  At Luxottica, there’s no structure.  There’s no formal offer/offer call and getting an extension for your internship fully depends on the brand team that you are on. At companies like Lux, it’s completely on you to take the reins and steer the conversation toward full time employment if that’s something you are interested in.  Here’s some tips on how to do that:

  1. Ask your recruiter or your contact in HR when they normally do recruiting for full time hires. Recruiters are in charge of filling any opening throughout the company.  Getting to know people in the HR department and letting them know you’re interested is a good first step in getting a full time job.  Make sure to ask your recruiter how often you should keep in touch with them and what you can do in your senior year to make yourself more marketable.
  2. Bring up the full time hire conversation with your manager. Your manager knows your work better than anyone else at the company and is the best reference to recommend you to get an offer in your department or to recommend you to someone in another department in the company.
  3. Keep in touch. This is the tip that seems the most obvious, but it’s one that you can easily forget to do as time goes on.  The HR professionals that I met with throughout the summer recommended sending out an email to HR once a month and an email to your manager once every one to two months to stay in contact.  It’s even better if you can connect your email to something that relevant with the business.  For example, from my work this summer, I know that I certain marketing campaign will take place later in the year, so when I email my manager I’m going to be sure to ask about that campaign.

Goodbye

Looks like another great summer in the books. I can’t decide if I am more surprised by how much I learned this summer or by the fact it is already over. Within the next 24 hours I will be turning in my badge, returning my laptop, saying my final goodbyes, and receiving my final performance review (wish me luck!). Tomorrow is the last day, but I feel as though I have so much more that I would like to do. Even during my last week, I have had my hands full with new things!

This week I received the amazing opportunity of attending a Toastmasters International Meeting. For those who are not familiar, Toastmasters is an organization that centers on communication and leadership. To my surprise, Toastmasters operated almost identically to Just A Minute, or JAM, at the Ohio State University. The Toastmaster’s meeting I attended covered table topics. A table topic is when a Toastmaster member is selected to speak on a randomly selected subject. After many more senior members presented, I worked up the courage to give it a whirl. Through some gift of grace, I was given the word sunset. For some strange reason I had some very eloquent, poetic things to say about a diminishing sun. At the conclusion of the meeting I was blown away when I was awarded Best Table Topic (see trophy below). I feel very proud and humbled at the same time. When I begin to work fulltime in a few years, I would love to find a local chapter of Toastmasters and consider competing on a district level! It was really fun.

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In addition to Toastmasters, I also had the privilege of hearing from Beth Mooney, KeyBank’s CEO. Mooney has been famously quoted saying “I hope that when I’m done the fact that I’m the first woman CEO (in banking) isn’t a headline but is relegated to the footnotes, because that will mean others have followed.” When I heard from Mooney this morning, I was lucky enough to ask her thoughts on how others can follow. She provided genuine insight to bringing your best, authentic self to work and always reminding coworkers and bosses that you are here and you want to be a part of every solution. Hearing from Beth Mooney after briefly meeting her earlier this summer was the inspirational cherry on top.

In general, I could not have dreamed of a better internship after my sophomore year. I was unsure of my abilities and what the internship would be like, but I have walked away with so much experience and confidence. I can hardly wait to return to campus as a junior to continue to challenge myself and grow. I want to say a big thank you to all the amazing people at Key that made my internship experience what it is.

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Opinions expressed are those of the speakers and do not necessarily represent those of KeyBank.

 

What I Have Learned from 10 Weeks in the Real World

My summer as a Merchandise Analyst Intern at Kohl’s has been nothing short of an all around incredible experience. Over the past ten weeks, I have learned more than I ever thought possible, and have experienced my first taste of what a career in the retail world actually looks like. Reflecting on my internship search and my experiences this summer, here are a few of my major takeaways:

1. Just because you don’t get one internship does not mean you won’t get any internship.

This is such an easy thing to tell yourself…after you finally get an internship. One of the most frustrating times during my junior year was from December to March, during which I was on a quest to find the “perfect” internship. I probably applied to about 30 internships, and heard back from maybe five. This is not because I was unqualified (although, that is what I started to convince myself of), but it is easy to forget that thousands of other college juniors are probably doing the same thing you are. Not receiving or hearing back from your “dream internship” can be a punch in the gut, but then again, what really is a “dream internship” anyway? In college, you have never really been in the working world yet, so keeping your options open to all of the possibilities when in your search can open your eyes to interests you may not know you have, or companies you never considered.

2. First impressions are something, but not everything.

Everyone will tell you that on your first day, you need to be on your “A-game” and that you should be dressed to the nines, but in reality, this should be something you are thinking of everyday of your internship. Your first day is very important, don’t get me wrong, but when I think about what I have done this summer or the impression I gave, I don’t think that what I was wearing or how firm my handshake was is in the forefront of my manager’s mind. These are important qualities, but it’s almost a given that each college student should possess these skills. What you do in the weeks following that initial meeting are what people remember you by, and whether or not you are able to back up a great first impression is what really counts.

3. Don’t let one small thing keep you from opening your mind to new experiences. 

Candidly, I was very hesitant to move to Milwaukee this summer for my internship with Kohl’s. I knew it was a great company and that it was awesome opportunity to have earned, but I was hesitant to leave behind my friends who would now be eight hours away in Columbus. I am more than thankful that my parents encouraged me to take a risk and move here for the summer, because it has completely paid off, and then some. One thing my mom always says to me is, “Don’t wait around and make your decisions based on what everyone else is doing, because they aren’t waiting around for you, and then you’re going to be the one left behind.” I was so worried that I would be missing out on fun summer happenings in Ohio, but passing up an amazing opportunity like this because of that would have been one of the biggest mistakes I could have made.

4. Sometimes what you are looking for comes when you are not looking at all. 

That may sound cheesy, but by the end of my internship search, I felt very defeated. I had spent more time looking for a job than I did on anything else during those three months, but was having no luck in finding something that really fit all that I was looking for. I met a Kohl’s recruiter at the spring internship fair, and interviewed on a whim. During the interview process, it became very clear to me that this company invested a great deal of effort and time into their internship program, and this was very exciting to me. I had never considered Kohl’s as an option before, mostly due to the location. However, just when I was ready to give up, what I would soon find to be an amazing opportunity showed up, and I couldn’t be more thankful that it did! I can’t stress enough what keeping an open mind can do for you, I just wish I had realized it sooner!

During my last few days at Kohl’s I am trying to soak in anything and everything I can! It has been an incredible summer, and I feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to play a small part in such a big operation!