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Getting Your Foot in the Door with Macy’s

macys logoAbout Macy’s

Macy’s began in 1858 as a single dry goods store in New York City.  Since then, Macy’s, Inc. has evolved into one of the nation’s premier retailers for fashion and affordable luxury, and today, operates more than 800 Macy’s department stores and furniture galleries in 45 states, the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico. Macy’s, Inc. also operates 40 Bloomingdale’s stores in 12 states, as well as macys.com and bloomingdales.com for distinctive online shopping experiences.

Last year, Macy’s hired more than 1000 students for jobs, internships and their management development programs.

Learn more about opportunities at Macyscollege.com.

dara-silverglateAbout Dara

Dara Silverglate is a Manager of College Relations with Macy’s, Inc.

She began her career with Macy’s as a Merchandising Assistant in 2006, was promoted to Assistant Buyer in 2007, and became an Associate Buyer in 2008.  She transitioned into her current role in 2010. She earned a BS in Retailing and Consumer Sciences from the University of Arizona.

Blake WittersAbout Blake

Blake Witters is a Director of College Relations with Macy’s.  He oversees hiring for the Macy’s Store Management Executive Development Program and Internships across the eight regions of the company.

Blake began working for Macy’s in high school.  He has been an associate, an intern, an assistant sales manager, a group sales manager, a college recruiter for the Store Management team, and a regional manager and regional director in College Relations, prior to accepting his current position  A graduate of the University of Georgia, Blake KNOWS Macy’s!

What kinds of opportunities do you recruit on-campus to fill?

DARA: I recruit for our Merchant Executive Development Program for Macy’s and macys.com and for our Finance Executive Development Program and for Human Resources.  We have one director and three recruiters for the Merchant and Finance Executive Development Programs and HR recruiting, and we target 15 universities across the country.

BLAKE:  I oversee recruiting for our Store Management Executive Development Program and our Intern Program. I have one regional director and eight recruiters on my team, and we target about 50 universities nationally, primarily for the Store Management and internship positions but we also work in partnership with Bloomingdale’s stores, logistics, finance and human resources for our Cincinnati offices.

How important is a student’s specific college major for these opportunities?

DARA: We are open to all majors! In fact, this past fall I was recruiting on campus with one of our Buyers, and she had been a Theology major in college.

As long as you understand business (and want to work in business), have strong analytical and communication skills and can demonstrate leadership, you could be a good candidate for us, regardless of your major.

BLAKE:  That’s right, all majors!  About two-thirds of our hires come out of the business schools, but the remaining third come from a broad variety of disciplines.  They key things we look for in candidates are a genuine interest in working in business, an aptitude for the retail business, and demonstrated leadership and analytical skills.

We’re running a business, and when you come to work for Macy’s, you are given significant responsibility for some area of our business.  We want to make sure you are ready, willing and able.

How can students demonstrate they have the qualities and characteristics Macy’s seeks in candidates?

DARA: Stand out at the career fair! Have your 90-second elevator pitch ready!

Be prepared with examples that illustrate how you excel at leadership, how you applied your analytical and communication skills with positive results, how well you know Excel.

Don’t just tell us, show us! Give examples of the things you have done.

BLAKE:  We want to see that you have been involved beyond the classroom.  Develop your leadership and analytical skills and, like Dara said, provide the examples.  Without the examples, you’re just giving us your opinion.

How do students not on your target campuses apply?

If you know someone at Macy’s, use them as a referral.  We are not going to hire you because of the referral, but we will review your application.

Apply online!  Online application systems are not a black hole for job applications. Over 15% of our hires last year came primarily through our online application system. Every application submitted online gets reviewed!

Naturally applications that get some face time – through a referral, at a career fair or at campus recruiting event – do have a certain advantage, but we do hire candidates that come to use through Macyscollege.com.

Macys bannerWhat do you look for in candidates?

BLAKE: We look for students with internship experience.  Internships teach you time management and how to collaborate productively with others in the workplace.

DARA: We look for students who understand Macy’s.  Students need to understand that, while Macy’s is in the fashion industry, we are a business.  You have to be interested in business; in retail and fashion; in business strategy; in understanding what customers will respond to and delivering that. We are a $26.4 billion company, and we don’t do that just by selling clothes.  We do that by understanding business – what’s working and what isn’t – and understanding our customers.

BLAKE: We are looking for student leaders – students who are involved on campus, whether it’s a fraternity or sorority, a student chapter of a professional association, student government.  You name it!  It’s great to be a member of an organization, but we are interested in hearing how you impacted that organization for the better.  How you demonstrated leadership.

DARA: We do have a minimum GPA requirement for our programs, but don’t depend upon your GPA to get you an interview. A 3.2 students with a lot of internship and leadership experience is usually a stronger candidate than a 4.o student who focused only on their classwork.

In addition to their coursework, what do you recommend students do while they are in college to prepare to work for your company?

BLAKE: Get involved on your campus outside the classroom and look for opportunities to develop you skills.

Want to develop as a leader? Join and make an impact on a student organization.

Want to get experience? Get an internship, a work-study job or a part-time job or volunteer in a meaningful way.

Need to develop your skills?  Take a class in Excel, public speaking or time management.

Want to know your options?  Attend the career panels and information sessions your career center offers.  Go on information gathering interviews with people working in professions you are considering.  Get their advice.

DARA: If you are interested in Macy’s, come to our events on campus.  Not just the career fairs, but the employer panels, information sessions, and the guest lectures.  These events will give you an opportunity to get to know us and will give us an opportunity to get to know you.

BLAKE: There are things you need to do and learn that you are not going to get in the classroom.  Seek them out!

In addition to their coursework, what do you recommend students do while they are in college to prepare to enter the workforce?

DARA: Put yourself in situations that are uncomfortable.  Life is full of uncomfortable situations. You cannot avoid them, so you need to learn how to manage through them.

Look for opportunities to work in teams and collaborate with others.  You need to show you can work well with and depend upon others to get a job done.  You need to show you can give and take constructive feedback and criticism.

BLAKE: If you think you want to work for Macy’s, get a job in a store and see if the retail industry is someplace you fit. And, learn Excel; particularly if you are interested in our programs. You have to be able to use Excel.

What are some of the classic mistakes you have seen students make when interviewing with you?

Not being ready for the “Why Macy’s?” question. You have to do your research. When students aren’t prepared to answer the “Why Macy’s?” question, or follow up questions about our business and strategies, they show they’re not really interested our company or our industry.  And, have questions! The questions you ask at the end of the interview tell me a lot about how much you prepared for the interview.

Too much fashion! Students that wear too much perfume or cologne or dress too fashion forward.  You’re not going to a party or a club – you are going to a job interview. Dress professionally.  We are looking for business people, not astonishing!

Not connecting the dots.  Your job in an interview is to show how what you did in school relates to what Macy’s does.  Connects the dots between your qualifications and our business needs.  Don’t assume we understand what you offer.  Show us why we should consider you for employment.

What are some of the most impressive things you have seen students do when interviewing with you?

workthumb_2_22

DARA: I love when candidates tell me something about Macy’s that I don’t already know.  That really shows initiative!

Also, when students can speak to our strategies and make their own observations about what these strategies mean to them as a consumer.  That’s powerful.

Students that offer their opinions on our business strategies and suggest ways we might improve or do things differently; they almost always make a good impression.

BLAKE: People who can clearly present their qualifications in ways that connect to Macy’s and our programs catch my attention. Be ready to tell me why you want to work for Macy’s and why we should hire you.

If you knew then what you know now: What advice do you have for college students as they plan for life after college and getting that first job?

DARA:  Make a lasting impression! Go to the career fair as a freshman to see what there is to see and meet the recruiters. Go back to the career fair as a sophomore and continue building those relationships. Return to the career fair during your junior year to continue those relationships and compete for the internships.  Lead the way to the career fair as a senior and compete for jobs.  I love getting to know students over the course of their college careers.

Make smart decisions about the classes you take inside and outside of your major.  Take classes that will help you develop skills and abilities you will need after you graduate.

BLAKE: Take advantage of the career services and resources at your college.  Do mock interviews. Get your resume reviews.  Seek out their advice early and often. Start this process early. Don’t wait until the start of your senior year to think about life after graduation.

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