Intern Education

DSW is amazing in that they make sure that a finance intern doesn’t only see finance or a marketing intern doesn’t only get exposure to marketing. About once a week there is an hour-long meeting with a different department within the corporation.

Last week I was able to sit in on an ABG meeting. ABG stands for Affiliated Business Group, which is the department where DSW develops partnerships between businesses. For example, DSW partners with Steinmart and Gordmans to provide access to hundreds of brands of shoes. DSW has a deep understanding of the product, what the customers want and how to get it there; therefore ABG creates low risk, high reward solutions.

This week the interns took a trip to the Polaris DSW store (there are 3 in the Columbus area including Polaris, Easton and Dublin-Sawmill) where we walked through the store before it opened with the MOD (manager on duty). Although I have worked in a DSW store, most the interns had not, so it was a great opportunity to see where the action really happens. I’ve quickly realized the more connected the head quarters is to their stores, the better the company does as whole.

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The Polaris DSW location where my intern group took a tour of the behind the scenes action!

At OSU I am majoring in marketing with a minor in communications, although who knows where I will end up in 10, 20 or 30 years? That’s why I love this aspect of my internship. I’ve heard other students mention that they just make copies or get coffee, but I’m always either working on something in my department or getting exposure to other aspects of the company. I am looking forward to learning about HR, Merchandising, Store Operations, getting a tour of the DC (distribution center) and more.

Fun Fact:

DSW is moving internationally! They now operate in Puerto Rico and have a partnership with Town Shoes of Canada. Hopefully more to come!

Tip of the day:

When interviewing with a company most people remember to ask what they will be doing for the company but don’t forget to ask how the company will help you grow.

Embarrassing moment:

Want something even more embarrassing? I was walking from one end of the building to the other when I dropped (and broke) my new water bottle. Not that embarrassing you say? …I was right outside the CEO’s office and water was EVERYWHERE. Luckily an employee stopped and offered to warn people of the lake I had created while I ran and got paper towels.

Lesson? Clutch your water bottle like your life depends on it.

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See that caution sign? Yep…that was because of me. Oops!

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

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.

 

Texas Trip

Every year, the Dow Finance Internship Program goes on a one and a half day trip to Freeport, Texas, the location of the largest chemical manufacturing facility in the Western Hemisphere. The trip is an incredibly intriguing and valuable experience. Not only was it amazing to see all the humongous Dow operations on the Gulf of Mexico but it was also great to get away to the scorching heat and beaches of Texas. As I sit back on the corporate shuttle flight back to Midland, Michigan, I can’t help but share the story of this incredible experience.

The trip began bright and early Tuesday morning. The Dow Shuttle from Midland to Freeport leaves at 6:00 am. This means getting up at 4:15am, getting ready, and traveling to the Dow Hangar at the local airport to be there at 5:20am. One of my favorite things about taking the Dow Shuttle for the trip was the convenience of arriving at the airport 40 minutes before the flight and that the airport is only 10 minutes away from work.

The two and a half hour flight down to Texas went by very quickly. The shuttle, which seats about 45 people, has plenty of leg room to stretch out and plenty of tray space to get work done during the flight. After eating breakfast on the plane, I was able to knock some things off of my to-do list. Given that I am not the most comfortable flyer in the world, I was pleasantly surprised by how smooth the flight was, making it go by even faster.

After arriving in Texas, we immediately boarded the bus that would be touring us all around the Freeport operations area for the day. After a short presentation that explained the enormity of the Freeport operations, we embarked on our first tour. The first tour of the day was a research and development center called Pack Studios where they work with customers to ensure that our product is meeting their packaging needs. I was surprised to learn that nearly every food item in my pantry and fridge could be made out of Dow materials. This tour was especially cool because we were able to walk around the warehouse with enormous, complex machines running all around us.

Our next tour of the day was of the Freeport marine terminal operations. This is where the ships dock from the Gulf of Mexico to either pick-up product produced in Freeport or to deliver inputs that the plants use in their processes. As we drove around and witnessed the humongous ships at port, we learned how important the operation is to moving our product around the globe.

Next, we engaged in a panel lunch in which we were able to ask questions of some members of the Texas Controllers group who do the cost accounting for the Texas operations. Even better yet, the authentic Tex-Mex food that was catered for lunch was delicious.

After learning more about the accounting aspect of the Texas operations, we headed back out on the road for a tour of the largest chemical plant in the area. It is hard to understand how massive these plants are until you get up close to them and see the massive structures that contain thousands of pipes. Seeing the plant itself was a great experience because it allowed me to understand where the product comes from and how complex the processes are.

We then had the special treat of seeing the emergency operations center at that plant and speaking with one of the emergency personnel on site. We were able to learn all about how they prepare for and overcome natural disasters and other major emergencies. This particular speaker really helped me understand how much emphasis the company puts on safety and emergency preparedness.

The next plant that we toured was one that is still under construction. Much like the rest of the operations we saw, I was amazed at the size and complexity of the facility. The coolest thing for me about this tour was seeing the control room of the facility where the processes of the plant are constantly monitored. We were able to learn more about what the product is at that plant and what different technologies are used to produce the product.

After touring the Freeport operations for the whole day, it was finally time to go out to the beach and have dinner on the pier. We drove about an hour along the gulf coast past hundreds of vacation homes on stilts to Galveston island. The island is home to beautiful beaches, piers, and other tourist attractions. We had dinner as a group at Bubba Gump’s shrimp on the Galveston pier and then ventured out onto the beach. The warm water and soft, sandy beaches reminded me of the beaches back home in Tampa. It was the perfect, relaxing ending to a long day of learning.

I am currently sitting on the Dow Shuttle on my way back to Midland, Michigan as I write this post. This trip to Texas has taught me a few things that I wasn’t very in touch with during the rest of my internship. First, I have learned the importance of understanding, even on a basic level, what the organization makes and how they make it. Second, it has taught me that working for a Fortune 50 company such as Dow is a great experience because the opportunities are endless both in geographic location and job type. Lastly, this trip has reminded me that a valuable internship experience is much more than working on projects throughout the summer. Making your internship valuable is also about networking with new people, seeing new things, and stepping out of your comfort zone by trying something completely new.