Internship Title: Merchant Intern
Employer and location: Abercrombie & Fitch, Columbus, Ohio

Describe your duties:

Rachel Voss '13During my internship, I took on the role of an assistant merchant, which is the position college graduates are placed into.  After two weeks of training with the other interns, we were split up into our individual departments, and given the chance to see what an assistant merchant actually does.  Each day, I checked e-mails from my vendors in other countries, such as Hong Kong.  After reading the issues for the day, I would attend meetings with cross functional teams, such as our design teams and planning teams, to solve the problems and get back to the vendors.  When I wasn't in meetings, I worked on reports in trend spotting, competitive shopping, analysis and trying to stay on top of the next big ideas.  Because the vendors worked during our evening hours, the product constantly progressed at all times.  Now, products that I managed over the summer are set in stores!

What did you enjoy most about your internship?

I enjoyed the hands-on aspect of my internship the most.  All interns were given tons of responsibility immediately.  It was great to own a part of the business and follow a product through the production and planning process.  At the same time, it was just the right mix of creative and analytical ability.  As interns, we also got to work with many people from different departments and interact with upper level merchants, and even the CEO!

What was the most difficult aspect of the internship?

Overall, I really enjoyed my internship.  There were days that were stressful because we took on so much responsibility as an intern, but my mentor and supervisor were always there to help.  Also, because of the nature of the retail industry, changes came about very often, and we had to be very willing to adapt, even if it meant staying extra hours to make changes.  In the end, this was one of the most rewarding aspects of the job, though.

How did your experience at Bucknell prepare you for your internship?  How did your internship prepare you for a career?

My experiences at Bucknell prepared me extremely well for my internship.  All of the group projects in the management school really made me capable of working with other people.  I also learned a lot from my Management 101 course and being a TA for that class that helped me to apply what I learned.  Specifically, Bucknell helped me to gain the presentation, organization and critical thinking skills needed to successfully carry out the internship.  Further, the internship helped prepare me for my career because I have now accepted a full time offer as an assistant merchant starting next summer.  Because of the experiences I had as an intern, I am prepared to continue growing as a merchant at Abercrombie & Fitch.

What recommendations do you have for other students considering doing an internship?

To all the students out there looking for internships, I really recommend keeping an open mind.  There are so many opportunities out there, as long as you give them a chance.  Don't be scared of a location or a job opportunity because it doesn't sound like what you want for your future.  An internship is a great experience to learn about what is out there beyond the core jobs that you automatically think of.  A year ago today, I would not have ever dreamed I would be beginning a career in fashion and merchandising upon graduation.