By: Ryley Gregory
When it comes to creative industries like fashion, finding a summer internship that fits the bill can sometimes pose a challenge. How many of us have watched in envy as our finance friends brag on about their well-paid, Wall Street internships and guarantees of job?
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to work on Wall Street to score a stellar internship. In fact, you don’t even have to wear a suit. Don’t believe us? As part of an ongoing series with major retail company American Eagle, Thirty Seventh sat down with their HR Generalist for Merchandising, Mackenzie White, to learn a bit more about what it means to work in corporate retail, and what internship opportunities the AE brand offers to current juniors and seniors.
Mackenzie describes American Eagle as a company built upon the heritage of its denim, and notes that its employees are driven by a set of strong core values. With the average consumer falling between the ages of fifteen and twenty-five, the company targets recent graduates with a passion for their products as ideal potential hires that can provide valuable insight into consumer taste.
Based in Pittsburgh, American Eagle’s headquarters is home to around 900 employees. Through their internship program, roughly 15-20 rising seniors are given the opportunity to join the Pittsburgh or New York offices to gain experience in either merchandising or inventory planning.
So what’s it like working at American Eagle? From what we gather, it’s pretty much like stepping into one of their ads. “We’re a very casual relaxed company,” Mackenzie explains. “Everyone’s on a first name basis, all the way up to our executive leadership team.” It’s this atmosphere and culture that has kept Mackenzie at American Eagle for the past four years. “We also have an open door policy – not to mention we get to wear jeans to work every day and showcase our personal style!”
Merchandising interns are “at the hub of the wheel”, getting the opportunity to work with the products from their initial design to their arrival in stores. In order to keep up, the job requires someone who is creative, has an understanding of finance, is in the know on the latest trends, and – most importantly – is passionate about the products being made. Inventory interns, on the other hand, are focused more so on sales. Ultimately, “their job is to get the right product to the right place at the right time,” Mackenzie explains, by analyzing data from stores to determine which products are selling best in which locations. These interns need to be financially savvy, have strong business backgrounds, and plenty of experience using good old Microsoft Excel.
One of the most innovative – and admittedly, a bit intimidating – aspects of an AE internship is that the whole experience runs like a ten-week-long interview. Interns and mentors fill out regular evaluations marking the intern’s progress – a process White assures us guarantees “you always stay on top of your performance, and that you and your team are always aligned on how you’re progressing.” By the end of the ten weeks, the interns who show the most promise hope to receive full-time job offers with American Eagle’s training program. As a senior, you can apply directly to this training program and begin a job at American Eagle upon graduating. The training program itself runs much like the internship with time spent in the classroom and the office. At the end of the program, trainees are placed in an open department and become full time associates.
So how can you land the job? American Eagle is looking for passionate students who have strong GPAs, are involved on campus, hold leadership positions, and have great internship experience – all things that Hoyas excel at. Applications to American Eagle’s summer internship program are due October 18 and the first round of interviews take place in late October. Get started now, and by summertime you too could be headed to New York with a swanky paid internship and the hope of a full-time job – we like the sound of that.
Want to know more about the day-to-day life of an American Eagle associate? Look out for the next segment of Thirty Seventh <3s AE, – interview with recent MSB grad & current American Eagle employee, Jasmine Cousin!
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