Visual Merchandising Management

Ashley Robertson
Emphasis Area
Fashion Studies

Ashley Robertson supported account management and training and leveled-up her Excel skills at Winston Retail.

How did you get your internship?

One of my roommates had competed in a case competition hosted by Winston Retail and won! Throughout the course of the competition the Winston associates had reiterated that they were still looking for some summer interns. She already had an internship lined up while I was still actively applying and interviewing so she gave me the HR Director’s information and I emailed my application and resume to her. Shortly after that, I received an email to set up a zoom interview and a few days later I completed my interview and got the news that I got the job! I was able to choose what location I wanted to complete my internship in, either San Francisco or New York City, and I chose San Francisco.

What kind of work did you do throughout your internship experience?

Winston Retail is a third party visual merchandising company. They work with brands to make sure that their merchandise is being represented to their standards in department stores across the country. They also do a lot of work in pop-up stores. I worked with both the Account Management and Account Training teams during my time at Winston Retail. For the account management team I was in charge of going through visit reports from the on-site merchandisers, taking that information and putting it into PowerPoint wrap-up decks that would be provided to the brands based on what package they had with the company. Additionally, I was in charge of cleaning up various Excel sheets and highlighting any discrepancies in information. For the account training team, I reviewed training materials and created training quizzes for the merchandisers to take before they went on-site to complete the merchandising.

During the last two weeks of my internship, Winston did a huge rollout for Samsung for one of their new phones that was coming out. We had merchandisers working in thousands of electronic stores throughout the country. The project was so large and labor intensive that everyone in the office was contributing in some way to help the project go as smoothly as possible. I was given permission to oversee the approval of travel expenses for our on-site merchandisers, and by being responsible for this work, it freed up time for the other account training associates to be able to field any questions that the merchandisers had or finish up any outlying tasks that they were having trouble finishing due.

What was the most significant contribution you made?

The most significant contribution that I made was the support I offered the account training team during the rollout. They were very stressed out and there were very few people working on a huge project. I took on the daily tasks of some of the members of that team so that they had time to devote their attention to the more complex work. It was a lot of different Excel sheets, primarily checking merchandiser information to see if they had completed their visit the way they were instructed. On the last day of my internship, I got a really nice card from that team thanking me for all of the hard work I did and a special note about what a huge help I was during those busy couple of weeks. Additionally, I received great feedback about how my wrap up decks were very helpful to the brands when they were reviewing their quarterly information.

What skills did you develop in this internship?

I learned a great deal during my internship. It was my first introduction to a more corporate work environment and if I’m being honest, that was quite the experience in itself. I worked much more with Excel than I ever had before; a big part of my daily tasks was to clean up various Excel sheets by removing information that was no longer relevant or adding new information that we needed to use later on. I also learned to use the VLOOKUP function for the first time, which was quite the experience, and it eventually made my Excel skills much more precise and efficient. Another skill that I was exposed to was how to problem solve for brands. I would listen to client calls and strategize on what would be the best way to boost sales. Most of the time this just took moving the display to a more populous area of the store and sometimes it took more intense problem-solving.

What was your favorite part of your internship?

While I did truly enjoy what I was doing during my internship, one of my favorite things to do was explore San Francisco and use public transportation to and from work. I grew up in Phoenix, Arizona, where the most common mode of transportation is driving a car so it was fun, but a little bit scary of an adjustment. For those 10 weeks I was subletting a room across the bay in Berkeley so to get to work I had to take the BART into the city. I had only been to San Francisco once before so getting to explore it as an adult, and living there on my own, was an amazing opportunity. One of my coworkers took both myself, and the HR intern, Brianne, all over the city, giving us a history lesson as we went along, showing us all of the different neighborhoods, cool restaurants and lookout views.

What advice do you have for other students as they search for their internship?

I would tell them to start looking as soon as possible! I know this can be tricky because a lot of internships, at least summer ones, don’t open their applications until the spring so I would recommend that students make a list of companies that they are interested in interning for and find out when applications open up. Additionally, doing some research into these companies won’t hurt! See if you can connect with someone who has completed an internship at said company and try to get some insight into what their interview process looks like or if they have any projects in addition to the application. In short, being as prepared as possible to begin applying and interviewing right when applications begin to open is only going to benefit you in the long run. I had a short list of companies that I was interested in applying for and when they didn’t pan out, I started to get stressed out and panicky about not having an internship.