Interviewee Name: Hilary Taylor
Intern Position Title: Planning Intern for AnnTaylor.com
Company Name: ANN Inc.
Location: New York City, NY
Tell us a little bit about yourself:
As a fourth year Retail Management student at Ryerson University, I have worked from the retail floor to the head office, soaking up every learning opportunity along the way. I am a passionate and driven student who is inspired by being told that something isn’t possible, or that I can’t do it. Hearing those words heightens my motivation and pushes me to my limits. Retail is what excites me, but I’m someone who finds happiness in accomplishments. I love finding a great deal while I’m shopping, running for an extra minute or mile, working that much harder. My passion for retail expands past the classroom, as I am the president of the Retail Students Association next year, and returning back to work at LOFT in the Eaton Center when I get back to Toronto. My eagerness to learn sets me apart from my peers, and I am continuously searching for new books to read, articles to share, advice to take and experiences to embrace that will further me in my career and my character.
Can you tell us the steps you took to land this internship?
ANN Inc. actually came to Ryerson and did a presentation about the internship for fashion and retail students. After the presentation I approached one of the presenters and told her how amazing the opportunity seemed, that she’d be hearing from me and gave her my business card (and now that I know her well she said I made a good impression by doing that and she remembered me). The application was pretty extensive (it was offered on the ANNLOFT careers page) and I worked with our career counselor to perfect my resume. A recruiter from ANN actually called me to set up an interview before I submitted my application and to this day I’m not sure how they got my phone number without my application (it’s not on my business card!) — but we set up an interview, I submitted my application and completed my interview via Skype. A few days later, they called me and said I got the job! I then had to complete a bunch of visa paperwork and try to find an affordable apartment in NYC, which turned out to be a more difficult task than the actual application. For the month of May I offered to work at LOFT in Yorkdale (this was something I offered during the interview process to set myself apart from other applicants) in order to get a taste of the company culture, and a better taste of the Canadian market: a job to which I will be returning in September.
ANN Inc. has a great company culture. It’s all about women understanding women, and creating product for women. I really liked that and it is definitely something that I can relate to. Internships in retail planning are also very hard to come by in Canada so I jumped at the opportunity—and obviously the location played a big part in the decision!
What skills are you learning while at your internship?
I have learned so many things during my time in NYC and at ANN Inc, both personal and professional. I’ve learned a lot about working with people, and when to keep my mouth shut! I have learned so much about the retail business and how customers can tell you so much about the positives and negatives of your business. My excel and math skills have definitely improved as well.
Can you describe what a normal day is for an intern at your company?
I work a LOT on excel! A LOT! I consistently work on mini projects, analyzing metrics to make business decisions. For example, I will look at current under-performing products (based on retail metrics like stock to sales, inventory count and gross margin) and decide on appropriate markdowns. I am in charge of keeping the team up to date on certain metrics that change every day and updating certain methods of communication. I also update several spreadsheets where we are testing different things and how the customers react. For example, we test different “free shipping” amounts to see which amount the customer resonates with best. I sit in on really interesting meetings with company executives, which is a really great experience to be able to watch them in action. The internship program hosts lunch and learns, where we hear from one company executive at a time about their experiences and advice for us entering the workforce. We are also working on a project with other interns so I am in charge of creating short term and long term plans for our new business and forecasting dollar and unit sales. All of these things make up a typical day!
Give us one word to describe your workplace environment:
What advice would you give to someone just starting to look for an internship?
Show your eagerness to learn and your passion will also shine. One common piece of advice I’ve heard is that your passion shines through when you’re not trying to show it (or else it comes off fake). Also, don’t be afraid to set yourself apart. Yes, it may be awkward going up after a presentation to hand over your business card, or to speak up about something that is unique about you, but that’s what makes you memorable and brings you to the top of the list for possible hires.
What do you do to fill the inspiration gas tank?
I have a blog full of pictures that I find all over the Internet. If I had the time I’d love to have a blog with pictures that I’ve taken…but maybe when school is done. The pictures are of outfits that I love, and that I think encompass my style. I love seeing new ideas of ways to wear the clothes I already have! I also love quotes and song lyrics. I’m one of those girls that writes every single quote and lyric down that connects with me and any time I’m having a bad day or just looking for a little pick-me-up, I go back to that list.
What’s next for you?
I return to Toronto in three weeks and start getting ready for school! I am the president of the Retail Students association at my school this year, so I am already starting to get ready for a crazy year. I’m hoping to move into a job in retail planning or allocation when I graduate. My ideal places to work would be Winners or HBC, but who knows! I may end up back in NYC.
What’s your dream job?
My dream is to become the CEO of a large retail company (like Bonnie Brooks!) but to move up at a company through the buying/merchandising path. I’d love to be a DMM (divisional merchandise manager) and oversee the bigger picture of buying for shoes, accessories or handbags. (I’m an accessories girl all the way!)