My Merchandising Internship So Far

*Disclaimer: This may not be that fun to read if you're not into fashion, sorry (you should still read it though). 

Hello everyone still here with me! It's been awhile, I know. I've been more inspired lately, especially after getting a tripod, so maybe I'll try and get more content and write more. As some of you may know, I'm currently working as a merchandising intern at Chico's! The entire company is collectively known as Chico's FAS, but I'm working within Chico's brand as well. I was a little taken aback when I first arrived because I found out I'd be the intern for not one but three different departments; Travelers, Black Label, and Dresses/Skirts. They are all smaller departments so it's manageable, but as far as reports and meetings, you still have to times all of that by three. 

During my first week here, it was definitely a little overwhelming, which is to be expected.  The campus is pretty big, there's around d8-10 buildings (I should know exactly...) including a gym and on-site daycare which is really nice for all of the families here. The building I'm in is a converted warehouse, so unfortunately where I sit there isn't much sunlight, but it still has a cool industrial vibe. But back to my first week, there were (and still are) so many names to learn while also trying to remember every team members position. It's easy for me to feel like I'm failing or not trying hard enough, but I'm just taking it one step at a time. After all, 10 weeks, in the grand scheme of life, is not a long time. Some training programs are 3X that long!

This is definitely the first internship I've had though where I feel a bit more incompetent at times. Everyone around you of course has been around the block a few times and knows what they're doing, whereas I'm just trying to figure out what all of the different reports mean. And speaking of reports, there's so. many. reports. Of course I have some knowledge of analyzing things and how that works, but every report is different and you're looking for different information too, which takes getting used to. What I love about merchandising is that every day is so different (I need to stop using this word!). Some days I go in thinking there's not going to be much going on, then all of the sudden I've spent half the day in meetings and rearranging the samples closet. Oh, and there's so. many. samples. Sample management is one thing, as an intern, I was tasked with. Sounds easy enough, especially once you learn that all of the different departments are supposed to eventually get their own samples. But sometimes, there's only 1-2 samples that have to be shared by tech, merch, sourcing, design, marketing, visual, etc. So then you're left emailing and running around like crazy trying to track down where a sample was last seen. Samples are like gold in a retail company. 

Back tracking just a little now, I really had no idea last November, when I started my internship search, that I would end up at Chico's and in Florida of all places. I applied to around 50 internships, made it to the interview round of about 6-7 companies, two I traveled to interview at, and ultimately got rejected or didn't hear back from 49 places. Chico's is the one that I ultimately got accepted at. Now, if I hadn't have gotten Chico's, there were some other places I could've maybe interviewed at, but at this point it was middle of march and time was running out. I don't say that to sound sad or pathetic, that's great for those people that apply to one or two places and get it right away. I've had those internships in the past too. But going into merchandising for a larger corporation, I've known how highly competitive it can be. And since I don't go to a large state school or a prestigious fashion school, I knew companies wouldn't be as heavily recruiting there. So I had to work even harder to get them to notice me in an online abyss of hundreds of applicants. Although at the beginning I was looking at and hoping for a more "glamorous" place that sold clothing to people like me, more fashionable and young and cool, it's turned out to be a great experience getting to learn how to merchandise at a company where I'm not necessarily invested in the clothing. Since I am still learning, it helps a lot with analyzation and looking at the numbers instead of using my heart to make decisions. And the people I work with are some of the best, most talented, most hard working people I've ever met. I seriously never expected to meet such kind and caring people (not that I though they'd be mean, but you know the cutthroat fashion stereotype). On my first day working with my team they took me along to almost every meeting, letting me sit in on things I barely knew anything about and at the same table with leadership, where I most definitely didn't belong at the time!

And as a little indicator for how great and down to Earth everyone is, the other day the interns got to meet with Chico's FAS CEO Shelley Broader. Afterwards, some of us were getting on bikes to ride back to our building but Shelley told us to hop into her golf cart and she'd give us a ride. So there I am, literally squeezed into the front seat with Shelley and another intern. Then when we were inside, she invited us all to our office and showed us around her area. Certainly not how all CEO's act, which is why I love her. 

I am so grateful for all that Chico's has taught me so far and will continue to teach me for the next four weeks before I, sadly, have to go back to school. Luckily I only have one more semester (scary! exciting!) so you know, if anyone's hiring for entry level merchandising positions... you know where to find me. Being here just reminds me you really never know where you'll end up in life, and that's almost always a good thing.

If you want to know more about my role specifically/working in merchandising/working at Chico's/working in fashion/etc. Please don't hesitate to reach out to me! As you can tell by this post I'm a big talker and tend to ramble on and on but I'm here to help. If you want to read another perspective and more day to day, my roommate Brooke also blogs and just wrote something about working at WHBM! Check it out here

Look out for more updates in the future & thanks for reading!