We might be accustomed to buying goods at stores like Macy’s or Bloomingdale’s, but how many of us have thought about the decisions and logistics behind their inventory? OCS recently hosted a panel of retail professionals, showcasing the fascinating world of consumer goods operations!
The path to retail
Buyers and planners stock merchandise for retail companies. For Lauren Picasso, MBA candidate at HBS and former employee at Rent the Runway and Bloomingdale’s, an interest in retail was sparked by a conversation with a friend. “I was a neuroscience major in college. After doing my research at NYU, I thought that I’d try something new. I was talking to one of the girls in my sorority one day and she mentioned that she was a buyer for Ralph Lauren and that immediately sparked my interest,” said Lauren. From that conversation, she was able to get an internship at Ralph Lauren, and eventually ended up joining the buying program at Bloomingdale’s. For Davina Pike, planning manager at J.Crew, her first love was finance. But after working at a bank for a number of years, she decided that she wanted to work somewhere where she could better identify with the brand.
The 8th Annual AMBLE/OCS Spring Career Conference, held on February 22, 2014, showcased media and entertainment, fashion, and marketing panelists—as well as pathways into the field.
Media & Entertainment
The panel consisted of professionals with years of experience at Forbes, ESPN, CNN, ABC News, and the New York Times.
Getting ready to find and begin a new job? Jennifer Jenkins, Harvard College alum currently working as the director of operations at ESPN’s Remote Operations department, told students to do what they do well, work hard, and be ready to spend nights sleeping under desks.
Most of the panelists did not have a clear view of their career goals while they were college students. Susie Banikarim, a network television and video producer, told students not to expect that what they do after graduation will determine their future in ten or twenty years. Pulitzer Prize winning author Diane McWhorter believes that everyone will hit a turning point in his or her life, and at that point, “things will come clearer because you will start seeing the past as the past and not as the sum of everything you are.”
Q: How do we address the new trend in journalism and media—in which websites drive television?
Web presence has become the most important thing, and the fight to be first rather than right has only intensified. Addressing the concerns for those who think they may be interested in journalism, Ms. McWhorter and Ms. Banikarim provided invaluable advice. “Have the courage to stick to your principles. Do not compromise on integrity; there is a reason why you are not politicians,” stated Ms. McWhorter while expressing concern that aspiring journalists may receive bad training on simply making themselves shine through. Ms. Banikarim encouraged aspiring journalists to not sacrifice the fun part of journalism by just sitting at their desks.
I recently had the pleasure of going on the 2014 Harvard Fashion & Beauty Trek, a joint initiative between the Office of Career Services and the Harvard Alumni Association. What follows is a summary of the information gleaned during our visits to Bloomingdale’s, Tory Burch, L’Oreal, and Conde Nast.
5 Tips for Getting Your Start in Publishing and Journalism
1. Start writing now.
If your goal is to be a writer or an editor, you need to gain experience. Start your own blog or write for a publication on campus, such as the Harvard Crimson. You should be able to showcase your writing to potential employers by creating a portfolio. Don’t assume that your writing career will start at the publishing house.
2. Know which magazine you want to write for and why.
You want to work for Vogue? Why? You want to work for Harper’s Bazaar? Why? What are the differences between the two magazines? You should understand the mission, audience, etc. of each magazine brand, and be prepared to state why that particular magazine appeals to you. Don’t expect to be hired if you have never picked up a copy of the magazine.
3. Decide whether want to be on the business or the editorial side.
Think about whether you would like to work on the business side of the magazine which includes advertising and marketing—or on the editorial side. You should be able to articulate why you chose that particular area and showcase any relevant experience.
4. Know who you are and how you fit in.
You should have a clear understanding of what knowledge, skills, and talents you can bring to the position. Think about how you can be the solution to their problems and challenges.
5. Understand that hiring is a process.
Hiring is a process, and you should exercise patience throughout. If you don’t get the position the first time, be sure to handle the rejection graciously. Things change, and if a position opens up in the future, you want to be remembered for the positive impressions you made. Lastly, be sure to send both a handwritten and an e-mail thank you note to your interviewer(s)!
The sure-fire way to succeed is via proactive and aggressive networking. When I was first looking to get into the business, I sought as many opportunities as possible, cold-called companies, wrote letters, set up phone calls with contacts I had met or people who others had referred. Putting all your eggs into one basket, or only applying to your favorite childhood team, is not likely to bear fruit. — Jon Dienstag ‘05, Senior Manager, Concessions and Merchandise Operations at Boston Red Sox. Read the full story.
When you meet someone who is doing something interesting, ask if they have time to get coffee, and then ask them who else they know who you could get coffee with. You should be drinking a lot of coffee when you’re job searching. — Eleanor Fort, Explore Careers in Energy & Environment panelist, Associate for State and Federal Climate and Energy Policy Program, CERES. Read the full story.
Considering a career related to environmental causes, energy, or sustainability? OCS adviser Anthony Arcieri has leveraged the expertise of Eleanor Fort, an associate for state and federal climate and energy policy program at CERES; read below for Eleanor’s advice about entering the industry.
Q: How do students find out about jobs/internship opportunities in your field?
I would go to organization’s websites, sign up for their newsletters, follow them on Linkedin. Look for groups that you have heard about and then look at the other groups they list as partners. Networking is critical and informational interviews can be really helpful and can pay off in the long-run. Go to events and public hearings. Volunteer with a campaign. When you meet someone who is doing something interesting, ask if they have time to get coffee and then ask them who else they know who you could get coffee with. You should be drinking a lot of coffee when you’re job searching.
Q: Where do you see growth opportunities in your field?
Climate and energy policy, as well as business sustainability, two areas that my job bridges, are going to be growing in the coming years. Businesses are increasingly integrating sustainability across departments. Although progress has not moved quickly enough, in my opinion, on climate policy in the US, I believe we are at a turning point where policymakers are increasingly motivated to address the issue.
Justin Pasquariello, AB ‘01, MPA/MBA ‘10, executive director of Children’s HealthWatch at Boston Medical Center, met with undergraduates interested in the non-profit sector. We asked Justin how and where students can get started in the field.
Q: What advice do you have for Harvard seniors looking to break into nonprofit management?
As the executive director of Children’s HealthWatch, I am in a few different fields: the nonprofit world, the health care world, and the research world. I would recommend a somewhat different path for each.
I took the nonprofit path to get here. I volunteered extensively at Phillips Brooks House as an undergrad—and gained great experience through that work. I was the director of the Housing Opportunities Program for a semester and was a mentor throughout my undergraduate years (and beyond) through the South Boston Outreach program. Those two volunteer/leadership experiences gave me content and skill preparation to launch a nonprofit mentoring group after college. I also had great personal mentors at PBHA—including the dean at the time and other student nonprofit founders—both provided great advice.
Discover pathways into foundations and fundraising! OCS adviser Heather Law has leveraged the expertise of Brian Lemek, Assistant Vice President, CCS Fundraising. Read below for Brian’s answers to key questions about the industry.
Q: What advice do you have for Harvard seniors looking to break into your field (specifically foundations or fundraising)?
Q: How did your concentration come into play (…or not come into play) in your work?
The Early Days of Family Medicine, Part II | HMS Blog -
"The Family Health Care Program (FHCP) at Harvard Medical School (HMS) was an intense and rapidly evolving experiment in primary care and education, which ended suddenly in the 1970s." Read more.
I get a lot of questions regarding what it takes to connect to opportunities in entertainment, specifically in film and television. The answer isn’t always easy to hear when you’re starting out, and in all my advising on this topic, the answer hasn’t become any easier. There are thousands of people around the globe who want to be the next big, writer, producer, director, or actor—so competition is intense. But you don’t have to take my word for it; here’s a compilation of industry advice imparted by Harvard alumni during the 2012 Harvardwood Trek to LA.
1. Adjust your timeline.
When considering a career in Hollywood, take a long term view. It will be frustrating in the beginning to break in. Take a scan of the creative and business environment, and be flexible on where you may fit in.
Don’t get hung up on looking at structured application opportunities. You’ll find a few, but making connections is key. You are the application in the movie business. Contact as many people as possible, be specific about what you want, and be aggressive in acquiring it. Get out there and show your portfolio of work.
OCS student blogger Julia Eger attended Design Across the Spectrum (featuring Chris Grison, owner and landscape designer, Dianthus Garden Services; Katiti Kironde, fashion designer, Katiti; Paul Sabin, principal, Fikst Product Development; Jennifer Sarich-Harvey, senior interaction designer, IDEO; and Felice Silverman, principal, Silverman Trykowski Associates) and distilled these seven essential tips for the design field.
1. Get your foot in the door.
The market right now is really hot; interns and young designers are sought after. You might not have as much experience just yet, but get into the industry in whatever way you can. In some firms, the majority of the employees are hired through a consultancy or an internship.
2. Start out small.
Starting out at a small firm will likely allow you to do something more productive earlier in your career. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Try out a bunch of projects first to figure out what you like the best.
3. You probably have a lot more skills than you think.
If you have some design skills or software skills, you’re quite marketable in the design world. Don’t sell yourself short!
4. Take your smarts to your work.
If you have passion, you can’t go with “I don’t do Windows” or “I don’t do that.” You can do it all, and you can probably do it better than it’s being done right now. All design is driven by principles and elements. You need to learn and understand them if you’re going to be successful.
If I hadn’t interned at Jack Geary Gallery in NYC, I could have never grasped the extent of the vibrant, lively gallery scene in the art world. As a History of Art and Architecture concentrator, I had focused only (and quite extensively) on art and its literature. However, my time at Jack Geary Gallery made me realize a significant part of the field that I was missing out on. Before I officially started my time in New York, I went down to Miami Art Week, and saw for the first time the absolutely exhilarating art fair scene—hopping from Art Basel Miami, Aqua Art Miami, to NADA, and working the gallery booth as well. That trip was a great introduction to my work at the gallery. I prepared for the gallery’s upcoming show on Andy Hall, a contemporary artist based in Chicago. I worked on the exhibition catalogue, designed the postcard, and wrote up précis of the exhibition. I strategized with Jack and Dolly, the wonderful owners of the gallery, on the artwork installation. I wrote the press release for the Dallas Art Fair in April, and analyzed how to best publicize the gallery. We created beautiful Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter pages. And perhaps the best part of my experience is that I was constantly moving around both physically and mentally—something that befits the fast tempo of the contemporary art world. I traversed through Chelsea, exploring some of the world-famed galleries like Gagosian. I went to the MoMA PS1 with Jack and Dolly, gasping at Mike Kelley’s brilliant, neon-hued fabric puffs. At Museo del Barrio’s Biennale, we discussed who to possibly invite to show with the gallery. I absolutely loved every single moment of this eye-opening adventure. Although my time at the gallery was a mere three weeks, this experience has not only changed my career possibilities, but also reminded me of why I love art so much.
Adela Kim ‘16
Jack Geary Gallery, NYC
Image: Preparing to unpack Andy Hall’s artworks.
Cynthia Meng ‘15
Max Planck Institute for Informatics
Before I came to Germany, I remember telling myself that these three months would change my life because I would finally get a chance to live on my own and be by myself for a change. After nineteen years of either living under my parents’ roof or sleeping under Harvard’s, I relished the chance to seize my independence. Cook for myself. Work by myself. Travel by myself.
It’s a fantasy I like to play out in my head — the lone traveler, surviving on her own wits and skill. Looking back, though, I realize that I’ve in fact survived here in spite of my so-called wits and skill, constantly saved by the kindness of people around me. Nothing puts you at the mercy of others like being in a foreign country does. You depend on others entirely to show you what is custom and what is not, to give you directions in the seedy part of town after you’ve taken a wrong train, to tell you how to speak like you’re not just coming out of a first-year German class.
Connect. Connect. Connect. Take time to appreciate the people you connect with by fully making your presence felt. If you’re used to sending ‘thank yous’ in the form of handmade cards, do that. Be as YOU as you can be. — Cynthia Haas, COO, GimmeMo. Read the full story.