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!

Halfway Done? Already?!

…..and just like that Week 5 of my internship with Kohl’s Corporate Offices is complete! I am now officially halfway through my summer in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and I am wondering where the time has gone. They say time flies when you’re busy, and that couldn’t be more true! Some things I have been up to:

  • Learning more and more about Kohl’s buying offices, and what it takes to be a successful merchandise analyst with a Fortune 500 company. The analyst role involves allocating products to the correct locations at the right to time ensure the optimal product assortment when you step in the store.
  • Shadowing each of the roles in the buying office! Like I have said before, my manager is the buyer in the office, so I have gotten to attend some very cool meetings with her, experiencing a little of what her day to day life is like, negotiating with vendors and choosing what she wants to put on the floor in the beauty department at Kohl’s. One of the many great things about Kohl’s is that full-time employees are constantly working hard to produce greatness, as the company has many opportunities to move up in the buying office. This culture keeps everyone excited for a new challenge and constantly innovating.
  • Outside of work, I’ve been experiencing the culture of Milwaukee! I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again, I completely underestimated this city. There are so many things to do, whether it be a festival (there is a different one every weekend!), or checking out the beach at night or on the weekend. Summerfest is currently going on, which is the largest music festival in the WORLD! How cool is that?! I’ve been trying to see as many shows as I can, but with hundreds of artists in just two weeks…it’s hard to see them all!
Interns at the Milwaukee Brewers game!
Inside the buying offices at Kohl's Corporate Offices!
Inside the buying offices at Kohl’s Corporate Offices!

So far, my experience with Kohl’s has been amazing. The culture here is unlike any corporate setting I’ve seen, and it’s amazing to be around so many people who are so passionate about the work they are doing. I’m excited to make these next five weeks as great as the first!

Week One- Check!

These past few weeks have flown by, and somehow, I am already into the second week of my internship at Kohl’s Corporate in Milwaukee, Wisconsin!

I arrived in Milwaukee a few days before my internship started. Kohl’s houses all of its interns (huge perk!) in the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee dorms downtown, which has made it much easier to meet people and get to know everyone in the program much quicker. My first full day here, I explored downtown a little bit, checked out some local restaurants, and walked along the beach! Milwaukee is much bigger than I had anticipated, and my sense direction is not always the most reliable, so I ended up a little lost and walked about seven miles around the city!

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Milwaukee’s RiverWalk which runs right through the middle of downtown!

My first week consisted of several classes in which all of the merchandising interns learned the various programs used by the analysts in each office. There are roughly sixty merchant interns, a small portion of the two hundred interns Kohl’s has this summer at the corporate office! University Relations and Talent Development team members led these classes, which were really helpful to us and will be extremely useful in the coming weeks as we start to take on more responsibility.

At the end of the first day we met our teams that we would be working with over the next ten weeks. As I said in my previous post, I am in the Beauty Buying Office, which I am so excited about. I was extremely lucky to get an amazing team to work with this summer, and everyone in my office was so welcoming to me. Each office is made up of a Buyer, Assistant Buyer, Merchandise Planner, Analyst, and Specialist. The buyer in my office is my manager, and the analyst is my intern coach. Kohl’s did a really great job of making sure each intern had several resources to learn from over the summer, and knowing that there is someone you can always ask questions to is extremely relieving for an intern at a big company in the first few weeks!

This week, I am spending time learning each of the different roles in the offices, as well as how to run different reports on the company’s software programs. I am also getting started on my first project, which I am really excited about! Hopefully by this time next week, I will be well versed in all the different programs and systems, and little more familiar with the city-trying to avoid another several mile walk!


My Summer Internship with Kohl’s Corporate!

Hi Everyone!

My name is Jenny Bresnahan, and I just finished up my junior year at the Fisher College of Business as a marketing student. This summer, I will be a Merchandise Analyst Intern with the Kohl’s Corporate Offices in Milwaukee, Wisconsin! I am really excited to be taking on this new adventure and to get to share my experiences with you!

A little more about me: I am on the dance team here at OSU, I love big cities, and I have always had a passion for fashion (didn’t mean for that to rhyme, but it works). All of these were reasons why I wanted to try something new this summer, so I began applying for internships across the country. Surprisingly, Kohl’s was the last one I thought I would end up choosing. I had never been to Milwaukee before I flew there for the final round interview, and honestly went thinking, “Well, this will be a fun place to visit for free for two days”. However, I was so surprised, not only at how beautiful the corporate offices were, but the city itself was much bigger and lively than I had pictured. Not to mention, it sits right on the coast of Lake Michigan, which creates the perfect blend of beach and city.

Here's a picture I took of Lake Michigan on my flight back to Columbus!
Here’s a picture I took of Lake Michigan on my flight back to Columbus!

As far as my actual job goes (I guess I do have to actually work during my down time from exploring the city…), I will be interning with the beauty department! I am really excited about this, because, I mean, what girl’s dream job isn’t to work with makeup all day?! Well, I guess that’s not exactly what I’ll be doing, but I will be working alongside a buyer in the beauty department, talking with different vendors on a daily basis. Kohl’s works with several different brands including DKNY, Burberry, and Vera Wang, so I will be learning to communicate with them to decide which products to put on our shelves. Kohl’s also recently developed their own makeup line, Bliss, which I will be working on! I couldn’t be more excited to learn this summer about something I am so passionate about.

I am excited to share with you all everything I am doing this summer! My hope is that after these ten weeks are over, I will be equipped to enter into a career in this field with confidence and knowledge gained from my internship with Kohl’s!