Jane Tamar Markman is a senior from Seattle, Washington majoring in retail management with a certificate in entrepreneurship. In addition to being an alumni member of Kappa Alpha Theta, last year, she was a National Retail Federation Student Ambassador and was able to attend the BIG Industry Retail Show in New York. The experience inspired her to make an impact the retail industry and inspire the next generation of female leaders. Last summer, Jane was able to pursue her passion of retail, continue desire to impact the industry, and develop stronger leadership skills with her internship with Nordstrom Merchant Group as a buying and planning intern.
Q: What attracted you to the company/position?
A: I started my journey with Nordstrom my senior year of high school working at the Santa’s Lane Santa house in Seattle. Ever since then, I have continued my professional journey with the company and have learned the ropes of customer service and fashion insight from this wonderful company. I have continued to return to Nordstrom because each employee is empowered to be their own business leader. Nordstrom supports the decisions we make so long as we are doing what is best for the customer. Nordstrom’s exceptional level of customer service has also built my loyalty to the organization.
Q: What do you like most about the company?
A: Nordstrom cares about its people, which makes going to work every day meaningful. Customers of Nordstrom are loyal, empowered by the styling and transaction assistance employees give, and are passionate about the shopping experience they get when they walk through the Nordstrom doors. Nordstrom is a company that embodies diversity. In my two internships with the company and several experiences as a sales associate, I have worked with people different from myself. Nordstrom believes that great things happen when people collaborate with others, share different ideas and continue to learn every day.
Q: Can you tell me a little about what your overall experience was like working there?
My overall experience there was amazing. Each day brought new opportunity to meet with and learn from key business leaders such as vice president of creative projects, Olivia Kim and co-president, Blake Nordstrom. As an intern, I was expected to reach out to people in the company to learn about all areas of the business. During my 10-week time at corporate, I met with over 25 individuals ranging from brand leaders of the Nordstrom Product Group to individuals in the finance and marketing departments and I was able to ask them anything I wanted. Everyone was willing to sit down for coffee and share their advice and experiences with me.
The intern group went on several field trips where we worked in a Nordstrom Rack location for the day learning the ins and outs of stocking and maintaining competitive sales in an off-price environment. We also visited the Nordstrom Quality center where we learned how Nordstrom recycles, even down to the metal eyelet on a converse sneaker.
Q: What was a typical day like?
My typical day, though every day brought something new and exciting, consisted of working on my intern project, getting lunch with co-workers at Poke Trucks and the Nordstrom Café, attending vendor meetings to look at product and negotiate pricing, and analyzing sales through reporting systems. I worked on a comprehensive project this summer where I explored the opportunity for extended sizing within the Free People line in my department.
I was able to learn why Free People was hesitant to extend their sizing to include all shapes of women and come up with a business plan for launching and marketing these sizes to the Nordstrom Customer. The average woman is a size 16 and 67% of American women are currently considered plus size by retailers. Apparel should make all women feel beautiful in their body and its time retailers change their offerings to make all women feel at home in a fashion environment. When women love their bodies, feel confident in the way they carry themselves and know that no matter what size and shape you come in you are stylish and beautiful to look at, us women can focus on what is important to us and not be shaded by beauty standards.
Q: Do you feel that your past internships helped prepare you for this one? If so how?
Absolutely! Nordstrom teaches you how to take advantage of your strengths to be a confident leader. They teach their employees that standing out means being curious, driven and ready to jump into anything. By understanding that I can learn from anyone and that my knowledge is valuable, I built confidence in myself, a passion for the company and an eagerness to take on the next role to continue to grow and contribute.
Q: What did this job teach you about yourself?
A: My passion for the retail industry lies in helping people create meaningful experiences through apparel. I view clothing sales as a way to help customers connect with others, express their originality and develop their personal narrative with confidence. This job taught me the importance of understanding who your customer aspires to be and how she wants to get there. This internship taught me to never be stagnant, to always be thinking of how I can connect with the customer on her terms through new sales experiences. This internship taught me the importance of being curious. I learned that being interested in others and promoting a culture of continuous learning drives a more integrated and constructive community, no matter where we are.
Q: Where do you see yourself working post-graduation?
A: I will be returning to Nordstrom Corporate Headquarters in Seattle after graduation to participate in their rotational Merchant in Training program. Upon completion, I will have a role as a merchandise analyst for a buying pod.
Q: How do you feel that your education at Purdue helped you while working for this company?
A: Purdue has given me confidence in myself. Through participation in class discussions and involvement with career development experiences, I have learned about my strengths and how to showcase them in the business world. I have learned the importance of networking and how to connect with people in a meaningful way. I have learned to be driven, hardworking and a team player. People are here to help but you must do the work to let them do so. Reach out to the CCO, as well as your professors and attend speaker presentations.
Q: What career readiness tools has Purdue provided you with?
A: The CCO is an amazing tool for learning how to showcase your best self to the business world. No one is perfect but practice can help you be pretty darn great. Go to workshops on resumes, interviewing and networking. Everyone has something to teach you and the more exposure you get to others, in a constructive feedback environment, the more you will learn about yourself and how to coach others. At Purdue you can get advice from your peers, professors and mentors who will all give you a different perspective on how to grow making you more well-rounded.
Q: What career advice would you give to underclassmen?
A: Find something you are passionate about. It doesn’t have to be a job or a company but perhaps your outlook on life, the way you hope to inspire others, or what brings you joy and makes you feel most like yourself. Find a place that values YOU and gives you opportunity to work towards this passion. Be kind. You never know the power a smile, compliment or conversation can have on someone’s life. Be the person who betters the lives of those around you. Knowing what you don’t want to do is just as valuable as knowing what you want to do. Life is long, college is short and we are young so don’t sweat what’s ahead. Work hard and do what you love and the rest will fall into place. Never stop learning. Every experience has the power to positively change your life, if you let it.