This month, Barnes & Noble College sponsored the Student Program at the National Retail Federation’s (NRF) BIG Show in New York City. Every year, the program takes place the weekend prior to the NRF’s flagship event, the 104th Annual Convention & EXPO — better known as Retail’s BIG Show — and attracts 33,000 global attendees.
This year, the 3rd annual Student Program brought together over 300 students, 75 educators, and represented more than 40 schools and 25 companies. It is an inspiring weekend that brings together students from across the country that are interested in pursuing careers in retail, with executives from the industry’s most successful brands.
Students had the opportunity to meet with recruiters and interview for internships, training programs and entry-level positions. Perhaps the highlight of the event was the highly popular panel of CEOs from such top companies as Julep, The Neiman Marcus Group, HSNi and Saks, Inc., who recounted stories of their own personal career journeys in retail and offered three important keys to success: treat people well, create your own opportunities and accept challenges outside your comfort zone.
“I think it’s extremely important to be open and flexible,” said Karen Katz, president and CEO of The Neiman Marcus Group, Inc. “Many people go into their careers with a very set path they want to take, and I think the people that have ended up being most successful have zigzagged though their career,” adding “I’ve remained flexible and open to taking on challenges that I never would have dreamed of taking on, and I think that the more well-rounded you can become, the better off you’re going to be.”
Barnes & Noble College, who employs more than 10,000 Millennials in their campus bookstores across the country, sponsored the Professional Development session of the Student Program, a new event that targets students who have already secured positions in retail post-graduation. Lisa Malat, Vice President of Marketing & Operations for Barnes & Noble College, kicked off the session with her own words of advice to the attendees. “We are lucky enough to be where you live, work and play — allowing us the incredible opportunity to interact with you and learn more about what motivates, influences and inspires you every day,” she said. “And I can stand here and tell you in no uncertain terms, you are in the right place at the right time. There is no industry that can deliver what you are looking for in a fun, fast and fulfilling career like retail can.”