The [Recruiting] Road Less Taken

From the moment I began my MBA, I was told that as a student who was recruiting for the Luxury Retail industry, I would face a slightly different recruiting cycle and process than many of my peers. The schedule is a bit less structured and most companies in the industry typically recruit on an as-needed basis. That said, the exciting opportunities generally present themselves a bit later in the school year. While this can understandably be a cause of stress for some, I appreciated having the facts upfront. It helped me to determine early on that this was a career path I was committed to pursuing, even though it would certainly require me to be patient and a little more creative with my job-hunting strategy.

Since then, there has never been a time when I’ve doubted the decision to continue on the path I’ve chosen. While this is definitely due in part to countless late night personal pep talks, it can also be largely attributed to the support I’ve felt here at Stern. Though fewer companies in my industry of choice come to campus for the traditional corporate presentations and other such events, Stern’s Office of Career Development taps into its Luxury Retail alumni network throughout the year in an effort to continuously provide students with a gateway into their target companies. I’ve attended breakfast events, during which I’ve had the chance to connect with some of our alumni in more intimate settings and I’ve been to career panels with Luxury Retail professionals who have been happy to share their experiences and are more than willing to answer all our questions.

Another valuable resource I’ve personally leaned on is the Luxury & Retail Club. Club members tirelessly reach out to companies to organize various types of events through which students can gain exposure to companies of interest. Past events have included corporate headquarter visits and tours, lunch & learns, and cocktail hours. Many of these events have led to continued conversations with company employees that ultimately resulted in internships and job offers. The club ensures it is exposing students to a wide array of retailers of varying sizes, growth stages, business models, specializing in different products.

Aside from all these formal internal resources though, what has perhaps been most helpful has been my own peer network at Stern. Simply having conversations with friends about my interests has helped lead me to interesting opportunities I would otherwise not have been aware of. Friends have connected me with other friends or simply passed along job descriptions they come across that they think may be in my wheelhouse. While we are all of course told that our networks will probably be one of the most valuable things we take away from the MBA experience, I think I underestimated just how much I would come to rely on mine. My peers here have proven to be my great asset; they provide encouragement, advice, introductions, and go above and beyond to do so. It is because of all the people and resources that make up my tremendous Stern support system that I feel confident I will be successful in pursuing my career path, as “unstructured” as it may be.

Ciao Milan!

At the end of my spring semester as an MBA 1, I had the opportunity to travel to Milan, Italy with thirty other classmates. We were in the heart of the fashion capital of Europe for our one-week DBi course on Luxury Retail. I had been hearing about this DBi since I first applied to Stern, but the actual experience far exceeded all of my expectations.

The course was a mix of classroom lectures and experiential learning. I would say that the split was about 30/70, with the majority of our time spent visiting flagship retail stores, clothing factories, professional tailors, and other similar venues. You think you’ve shopped luxury before but 5th Avenue is nothing like Milan. In my opinion, comparing the two experiences could not have been more like day and night.

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The attention to detail and level of service at the Milan stores was unparalleled to anything I had ever previously encountered. Store employees strived to build a genuine long-term relationship with every customer that walked into the store; at Dolce & Gabbana, we were told this was because shoppers may stroll in and out on multiple occasions before committing to a purchase, and they wanted these customers to feel just as attended to as the regulars.

Aside from the experiential aspect of the DBi though, the lectures were equally as engaging. In spite of our long days walking around the city, each morning I was excited to hear what the professors at Bocconi University would be sharing with us that day. Their firsthand experiences in the industry, as well as their anecdotes about customer shopping habits, trends, and the economic status in Italy, kept us all hooked throughout our time in the classroom.

While the course itself was certainly fascinating and educational for me, I also really enjoyed the fact that I was traveling with so many classmates, many of whom I had not previously known prior to the trip. What’s interesting about the DBi is that since it’s an actual course, students lottery for it just as they do for all other courses at Stern. That said, it’s a great opportunity to meet both full-time and part-time students. I don’t have too many opportunities to interact with the latter so this was a unique situation in which we were able to get to know one another while exploring a new country together.

Whether you are an experienced jet setter or alternatively, just eager to get that first stamp on your passport, a DBi has something for everyone. In Milan in particular, I felt I received the perfect mix of academic, cultural, and social experiences that truly made it an enriching and unforgettable experience for me. Especially given my interest in the Luxury Retail industry, it has been by far my favorite course I’ve taken at Stern, and one I would highly recommend to other MBAs with similar professional interests.

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