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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

My Summer as an Intern

I am currently sitting outside, enjoying the weather that FINALLY feels like it’s the middle of July. I just drove up back home to Elkhart after concluding my internship with Anthropologie at the Keystone Fashion Mall in Indianapolis last Saturday. For those who don’t know, Apparel Design majors are required to have two internships prior to graduation – one retail for at least 140 hours and one design for at least 280 hours. I decided to do my retail internship this summer.

When applying I set my goals high, and applied at BCBG corporate in NYC, Gucci in Costa Mesa, Orange County, CA, and called multiple other stores including Burberry, Banana Republic, and Nordstrom. Unfortunately, I could not find housing in NYC for the summer, Gucci decided to take local students from FDIM, and the others weren’t offering internships. Around March of this year I was still trying to apply at local boutiques back here in South Bend and Mishawaka when I looked up stores located at the Fashion Mall. To my pleasant surprise, Anthropologie was listed. [You may be more familiar with Anthro’s parent company: Urban Outfitters --- U.O. has three sub-companies: Anthropologie, Free People, and Terrain.] I called them and BCBG both. Though BCBG wasn’t offering any store internships, Anthropologie told me to submit a resume and follow up in a week. Long story short…I got the internship!

I also knew a lot of friends from school who lived near Indy, and I ended up staying with a friend who’s also an Apparel Design major—Natasha—in Zionsville (her driveway view is the picture above). I drove about 20 min to work each day, which was on the North side of Indy close to Carmel, and I was able to visit downtown Indy, Brownsburg, Avon, Danville, and Purdue with ease. On weeks where I only worked a couple days, I also visited home, which was only a 2 ½ hour drive. To many this seems like a long time haha but I got used to driving so often, anything under an hour is nothing really now.

My internship with Anthropologie was absolutely wonderful. The first two days I worked, the entire staff showed up at 6 AM to do their yearly stock of inventory to account for losses. Loss prevention is unfortunately now a major deal with multiple retail organizations due to rises in theft, mostly attributed to the economy. During the rest of my month and a half there, I worked part time, paid, with weekly hours ranging from 10 to 32. (Hours and schedules for internship hours vary between companies–with Anthropologie I was treated like a regular retail associate.) Dress was very unrestricted, aside from no shorts, no logos aside from Anthro’s brands, and no flip flops–other than that it was just expected you dressed well and in a way that reflected the lifestyle of an Anthro girl. I was trained on inventory, censoring, re-stock in the mornings, fitting room service, loss prevention, customer care, retail procedures such as floor management and upkeep, and closing procedures in the evening.

I believe the best part of the internship came from the atmosphere. Anthropologie’s overall aims and mission as a company fit so well with my individuality and the general direction I wish to go with my career as a designer. For inspiration, corporate sends each retail outlet an “inspiration board” with themes the store is trying to represent for the season. Artistic freedom with retail display is then up to each outlet. We have five major departments: women’s apparel, women’s accessories, home, bedding, and lounge. Other sections include general green (a section geared toward environmentally-focused living,) children’s books/animals/learning objects, and multiple books throughout the store with themes ranging from recipes to the history of Valentino. I should also mention we as employees had quite a good discount, so it was all I could do to tell myself I needed to save for school haha. Of course, I did take advantage of it, though.

My co-workers were all very amiable and took the time to get to know me, while still maintaining professional attitudes. I found that one employee and two managers also had graduated from Purdue; the managers had obtained degrees in retail management. Many of my co-workers and I shared similar interests, including art, design (2 had majored in fashion design), fashion, and Starbucks haha. On the Starbucks note, during one week we had a contest for someone to win a Starbucks gift card. Whenever you added on items to a fitting room, signed someone up to for an Anthro card, etc, you put your name on a piece of paper which was then put into a drawing. I ended up winning, oddly enough, and plan on saving that card for when school commences again. :) Now I am good friends with many of them, and we’re all planning on staying in touch via good-old Facebook.

The only hard thing about my internship was the distance from home. I usually okay with my independence, but since I’m leaving for New York City in a little under 4 weeks and having been away earlier this summer for Maymester classes, I missed out on a lot of things with my friends and family back home. I did get to meet up with a friend here, and a friend there, but it was definitely a test. I grew a lot this summer, including both educational and life lessons learned from my internship. I look forward to spending the rest of my summer with friends and family back here in Elkhart, and one last stop at Purdue :) before I leave for FIT.

I’ll try and do a few posts when I can in NYC. In the meantime, I hope everyone enjoys the rest of their summer! And good luck to all the new freshmen as you embark on this journey known as college.

Oh! Ha and a plug for Anthro – if you’re interested more about Anthropologie, visit http://www.anthropologie.com/.

The burgers are calling me to grill them, so I’m gonna peace out.

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