Challenges, Mistakes and My First Broken Sample

My name is Patrick and I am currently a senior in Temple’s Advertising program, with a concentration in Art Direction.  Last summer, I worked at Macy’s Merchandising Group in New York City as a Product Development intern for their private label brands.  This semester, I was afforded the opportunity to further my retail knowledge skill-set by interning in buying, planning and merchandising at Anthropologie’s home office, in Philadelphia’s Naval Yard.

When I began interviewing at URBN Inc., a company which also owns well-known brands like Free People and Urban Outfitters, I considered myself strictly an apparel person, limiting myself to the garment aspect of the retail industry.  I was surprised to be placed in Anthropologie’s home division, as I did not know much about how the home business functions and operates.  Fortunately, being placed  into this department has allowed me to push myself out of my comfort zone, as well as challenge myself to learn a business that I am not familiar with–though this has not been without a few mistakes along the way.

As a student of Advertising, learning about the fashion and retail business has not been the easiest feat; I have had to quickly learn about the product life cycle, how assortments are created and how they are costed, on top of many, many other things.  I have had many experiences thus far that have taught me that I am going to make mistakes, and that no one is absolutely perfect (although I still do strive to be).

One of my more memorable examples of this happened a few weeks ago, towards the beginning of my internship.  Upon packing the trunks of housewares for Anthropologie’s June catalog shoot, I accidentally dropped a porcelain cup that had to be featured within the summer journal.  I had had anxiety just thinking about packing the glassware for these trunks, and my worst fear had actually come true–I had broken a sample into two pieces!  To make things even worse, this was the only sample of this cup worthy of being photographed.  I had to admit defeat and show my supervisor the broken glass, which I figured would get me immediately fired (or just exiled from the tabletop and glassware area for life).

After apologizing a million times, I handed my boss the cup, and as she examined it, she quickly suggested crazy-glue and said that the photo team could post-process it after it had been shot.  She could see that I was embarrassed and quite upset(and most likely sweating profusely), and she reassured me that it was not a big deal (well, not that big of a deal), stating that, “this is retail–not life or death.  No one is going to die because you broke the only sample of this cup.  We can fix this.”

This incident (which in retrospect seems like nothing but at the time was horrific) has proven to be the biggest lesson I have learned thus far; nobody in life is exempt from making mistakes every now and again.  Though students seek to be ideal interns all the time, nobody is perfect and everyone has shortcomings, and I have learned I need to be especially, especially, especially cautious when I pack these trunks for the catalog shoots.  I have also learned, however, that working hard and having a positive attitude in the work place stands out more overall than breaking a sample or finishing an assignment a few seconds late!

One comment

  1. Patrick, I am also an intern at Anthropologie, but at the store in Rittenhouse Square. Hopefully interning with URBN Inc will open a lot of doors for the both of us. And it’s a little hilarious that EVERYONE’S biggest fear when interning at a new company came true for you, but luckily it turned out just fine!

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