Landing an internship at Saks Fifth Avenue in New York opened the door for me to the luxury retail industry in New York, leading to Harry Winston Diamond, Amazon Fashion, etc.
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Getting the interview
I landed my first job in the luxury retail industry during my MBA internship. Right before summer vacation, I saw a recruiting email from Saks Fifth Avenue in my inbox: they are looking for summer interns. I submitted my resume and soon was invited for an interview.
The interview process
I was scheduled to meet with two Saks hiring managers. The first one was an Asian American lady. She was a merchandise manager. She was polite and explained to me what she does. Then she asked me what is my career goal. I said: “I want to know what it’s like to work in the luxury retail industry, and start a successful career just like you.” She paused; she did not frown nor smile.
My second interviewer was an intimate apparel buyer who grew up California. She explained the same thing to me, and asked me who was my favorite designer. “My favorite designer was Valentino; his dress is so feminine”.
That question is to test my fashion sense, and it was easy for me. There is a fashion channel in Shanghai that I always enjoy watching. It shows the latest fashion shows from Paris and Milan on a rolling basis. At the end of the conversation, she indicated that her role might already be filled. But she kept saying to me: We got to find something for you.
I thought there was no chance because that usually indicates there was no opening for you at the moment. After that, I flew back to Shanghai. I knew I would be doing some kind of summer internship in New York regardless, so I wanted to spend a few weeks with my family.
While in Shanghai, I received the offer from that buyer. I will report to my internship the week after I return to New York.
The day I reported to Saks, I first arrived at a meeting room according to the email instructions. There were already 20 stylish, beautiful young women there. Most of them were undergraduate interns. I could tell a few might also be MBA interns like me. Because they had that calm look as if they were just observing the crowd, the inexperienced and excited undergrads, just what we used to be. Soon an HR came to give a presentation.
We were given a tour of the entire store. On the stairs moving upstairs, looking at the floors moving further from me staring at myself in the mirror. I remembered the moment I came here four months ago: I was totally scared.
Even though I grew up in Shanghai and I have seen to Michelin restaurants on the bund; I have traveled to London and visited Harold’s, I have been to Monaco and been to the hotel Paris.
Yet for reasons unknown, when I first came to Saks Fifth Avenue I felt as if the whole world was looking at me: a new MBA student in the new city, looking for the path up, starting from scratch to finally become a customer here. I was on the elevator moving up that moment.
Meeting the hiring manager
After that we each reported to our own hiring managers. I was so excited to see my manager. Because I realized when she said “we got a find something for you” she actually meant it and she did it.
On the elevator, I ran into the Asian American lady who interviewed me. She hired an undergrad intern, who interestingly became one of the friends I hung out the most at Saks. She saw me, she didn’t say anything. Saks! New York summer, here I come!
Saks! New York summer, here I come!
Hey, I’m Tess, an entrepreneur, and owner of Delicate Revolt, where I share 1. Lessons learned by an entrepreneur; 2. How to achieve energy, efficiency, and style on business travels. Welcome to the Revolt!