From Internship to Senior Year

Transitioning back to school was easy for me, but I was extremely busy. I had to cut my internship a couple days short in order to be back for work at Ohio State helping the Early Arrival Program for incoming freshman. On my last day, Wednesday, August 16th, we had our final presentations in our intern project groups. We presented to over 60 people and then had lunch. Afterwards, we took pictures as a group and said our goodbyes.

Finance Interns in North Carolina
My Intern Project Group After Final Presentations

I drove back to the house I was staying in and finished packing and loading my things into my car with the help of my mom and her friend who flew in two nights before. We didn’t get back to Columbus until 11:30 PM that night, and I had to be at work at 8 AM the next morning. I worked the next few days and had one day of break before school started again. I was so busy during the past 3 weeks that I didn’t even have a chance to sit down and watch TV or Netflix. It wasn’t until this past weekend that I felt that I was able to catch up on school work, unpacking, and seeing friends. Thankfully I should not have that tight of a turn around again.

I had a great summer working for Cisco. About halfway through my internship I decided that if I were to receive a full-time offer, I would want it to be at the headquarter office in San Jose, California. I expressed this to my program manager in our weekly check-ins and told her the reasons why I felt this way. Last week I received a call with my offer to work with Cisco and I accepted! I am looking forward to starting my career in Silicon Valley and living in California, which is somewhere I never thought I would end up because it is so far away.

 

Looking back I had some great experiences this summer. I want to share a few funny stories, things I found cool at Cisco, and tips for your internship. I hope you have enjoyed reading!

-On my first day with my finance team I wore a cute new shirt I had bought. Upon getting out of my car, my roommate pointed out that the tag was still on the shirt. This tag was not any tag, it was a thick cardboard tag with a string attaching it to my shirt. We weren’t able to rip it off or get it off with my keys. I went into the break room in the office and couldn’t find any scissors. Then, I went to my desk where my manager introduced me to a guy on the team and I asked them if they knew where scissors were, to which they shook their heads. I explained my tag situation and the guy I just met said he had a pocket knife. So he sawed the tag of, to which I said “nice to meet you”.  Maybe it was embarrassing, but it was funny to us.

-Our office has automatic desks that go up and down to adjust to your height or if you want to stand and work. Our laptops are our computers and we take them home with us every day. We also don’t have assigned desks, though most people sit at the same desks every day. Free coffee and iced coffee became a great perk to have on the long work days when I needed a boost of energy.

-Having a roommate that has to go to work at the same time as you is great. One day my phone was constantly dying for no reason and it decided to die overnight leaving me without an alarm. My roommate knocked on my door five minutes before we were supposed to leave to check if I was up. Without her, who knows when I would have woken up that morning.

-During a Durham Bulls baseball game that all of Cisco finance was invited to, we got souvenir mason jars with our drinks. The game was so hot that we went to find shade, but I realized I forgot my mason jar. I went back to grab it and when I came up the stairs some first years in the rotational program asked what I was doing. I put my cup up to show them while saying I forgot my cup, but as I did that the last bits of my drink splashed out onto my face and shirt. We all laughed so hard, and it started an hour long conversation in which I got to know the first years better.  *If you are underage, never drink alcohol at a company event.

-Keep a running track of what you do and who you talk to during your internship, even down to the small things you think don’t mean anything. This will come in handy if you have an exit interview or an interview with another company. It also helps when you update your resume.

-Cisco has many creativity rooms that are filled with things from a golf putting room, to a TV room, to massage chairs. I definitely wish I took advantage of these more, but I was busy working!

Golf Room
Cabana Room
Lounge in the Cabana Room
Game Room

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.