For Bryant students interested in retail or fashion merchandising, the National Retail Federation (NRF) Foundation Student Program has been a rich opportunity for exploring and launching their careers. During this multi-day expo featuring brands from Macy’s to Kohl’s to H&M, students hear from innovative leaders of global companies, build a vision for their careers, and create connections that lead to internships and full-time jobs.
Bryant joined the NRF Foundation four years ago, and Bryant students have found inspiration and success at its event, says Patricia Miernicki, Assistant Director at Bryant’s Amica Center for Career Education, and Teresa McCarthy, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Marketing, both whom developed the partnership with the Foundation, which offers scholarships for attendance.
“The NRF student events changed the trajectory of my education at Bryant and my career now in the retail industry.”
Finding inspiration, connections
In the 2020 student program, Bryant students heard from 44 industry leaders, toured retailer offices, attended a career fair with more than 25 employers, and more. Taking the program virtual in 2021 offered many opportunities to connect with industry leaders and access career-building experiences, say Bryant students who attended the activities.
Noelle Gauvin ’22, a Marketing major and President of The Bryant Fashion Forum, a student-led organization focusing on fashion merchandising, attended the program both years to explore her interest in a fashion career as well as other areas of retail.
“The NRF Foundation program made it possible to acquire a great network and even potential mentors.”
Gauvin met with a professional from Gap, Inc., during the Executive Mentor Experience, one of the most popular sessions of the event. The Gap professional was a trend forecaster, a role Gauvin had never heard of, “but after speaking with this professional, I can say it is my dream job,” she said. “The NRF Foundation program made it possible to acquire a great network and even potential mentors.”
The virtual career fair “was a great opportunity," said Randall Davis ’22, an International Business major with a double concentration in Global Supply Chain Management and Analytics. "You could connect with so many people within a really limited timeframe.” As a result of an interview during the event, he recently accepted a position as a supply chain and operations intern with the retail company Belk, where he will be mentored by a supply chain manager.
The students “study everything they can about the companies and have their elevator pitch ready. At Bryant, that’s what we teach them to do.”
“The NRF student events changed the trajectory of my education at Bryant and my career now in the retail industry,” says Danielle Nikosey ’20. One industry speaker there “opened my eyes to corporate social responsibility and sustainability aspects” in retail and in her supply chain studies. Consequently, she took on these topics in her honors thesis, with a focus on fashion and offshore partnering. The encounter and ensuing thesis, she says, helped prepare her for the role she has today at Wayfair.
Dedicated faculty and staff support
Miernicki and McCarthy ensure that the students are well-prepared to attend the NRF Foundation event. "They study everything they can about the companies and have their elevator pitch ready," says Miernicki. "At Bryant, that’s what we teach them to do.”
Many Bryant students say attending the conference raised their awareness of "how many different career opportunities exist within retail,” says McCarthy, a former retail buyer with 20 years of supply chain-related experience in both industry and academia. “Combine the variety of career paths with the variety of retailer classifications such as apparel, furniture, building materials and garden equipment, food and beverage, health and personal care, sporting goods, etc., and most students will find a career path that excites them.”