Name: Samantha Dean
Type of project: Internship
Over this last summer I had the opportunity to intern as a central planner at La Senza, owned by L Brands. My internship involved creating daily reports, taking notes at meetings, and recreating the templates used in excel to make reports run more efficiently.
This was the first time I worked at a corporate retail level, and got insight to what I might like to do in my future career. I’ve always been interested in fashion and thought that the reporting department might be a place I could see myself combining my interests of fashion and business. After the summer, I did like my position, but I found I was more drawn to the more creative aspects I saw going on around me. Sitting in a cubicle from 8-5 wasn’t my favorite part of the job, and I really saw that my hyperactive personality needed an active role where the job duties change daily. In fact, it’s lead me to already apply for an internship at L Brands in another department.
While at La Senza/L Brands, I was able to connect with many co-workers who worked in other departments of the business, many of whom worked in merchandising. The more I talked to these creative and money savvy people, the more I could see myself working along side them. I had the opportunity to attend many of their meetings and learn more about what merchandising entailed, and learned it wasn’t the same as being a buyer — a position I had looked at before but never thought would fit me.
Merchandising is the “center of the wheel” when looking at a retail corporation. Merchants decide what fabrics, designs and elements of the product can be used based on not only what is in style, but what fits our budget. They communicate this to all other aspects of the business; from planning the textiles to use in production, to allocating funds to buy our product. Throughout my internship I continued working on my blog that features current fashion trends, and was able to actually suggest some of these ideas to the merchandising team during my time there. It was amazing to see ideas that the merchants were integrating into their designs actually being put into production and then analyzed by central planning, to show how well the product or style sold.
Besides learning about a part of the business I now consider a career goal, this summer I learned to be held to a higher, more professional standard. I had to attend weekly team meetings and communicate effectively with not only my immediate supervisor, but many managers above me and in different departments. At the completion of my internship I went though an evaluation that was similar to that of a full time employee. It was interesting to see the areas I was really succeeding in, as well as where I had room to grow. I’ve made it my priority to work on my weaknesses, some of which I wasn’t aware of before my final review, and I believe this will continue my growth and transformation even after my job is over.
The biggest part of this transformational experience, for me, was gaining a clearer view of what I want to do post-graduation. Before this summer, I thought that working in the finance department of a fashion based corporation was the only way to integrate my interests of fashion and business, but I now found many more areas of opportunity, especially merchandising. This has led me to apply for internships next summer in the merchandising area, and given me the confidence to apply to large companies based in New York City. I’ve also learned a great deal more of Microsoft Excel, and seen it’s application to financial reports, which will prepare me for tracking financials and understanding financial reports in future endeavors. The professional communication and linguistic skills I’ve practiced over the summer will allow me to communicate with professors, interviewers, and future employers better, and further myself in the corporate world.