Von Maur is a family-owned department store specifically located within the mid-west. It could be considered a higher-end department store, carrying items such as vintage Gucci handbags, CHANEL cosmetics, and Tori Burch shoes. They pride themselves on quality customer service, which was ingrained in me from the moment that I entered training. Little did I know that improving my customer service skills is only part of what I would learn throughout this internship.
In order to graduate, I have to fulfill my internship requirement while taking two classes. When I received an email from one of my professors regarding the Von Maur internship, I was immediately interested. I had the opportunity to go through a trial of three interviews and was eventually chosen among 17 others to participate in their store management internship.
While I was concerned as I originally wanted the merchandising internship, I kept an open mind–something that I would recommend to anyone who is in search of an internship. I was grateful that I could stay at school over the summer and work at the Von Maur store in town. Since it was a paid internship, I was able to support myself financially. I was assigned to the cosmetics department which made my previous job at Ulta Beauty more beneficial than I expected.
Not only did I get to meet amazing individuals at the store that I worked at, but I also had the opportunity to travel with my store's other intern to the Von Maur Center in Davenport, IA. I met other interns from different locations and formed a new friend group. We all talked about our experiences thus far in the internship and were able to relate to one another. All of the executives that I had the pleasure of meeting during this time made the trip that much more worth the four-hour drive. They were truly kind-hearted and had the best intentions in mind. I learned more than I had ever expected from them during that weekend trip.
Throughout my time at Von Maur, I had three projects in which I had to focus on. The first was based on social media – I was to make three posts per week on the store's Instagram, set up for pictures of certain cosmetic products, formulate captions, and collect data based on which post collected the most likes.
The next project was planning, setting up, and executing a department-wide Ladies' Night event. There was a gift with purchases that needed to be organized, decorations and refreshments that needed to be figured out, and finally, appointment and sales goals that absolutely needed to be met.
The final project was a business analysis project. We were all assigned a specific brand within the department, mine being Estee Lauder. I had previously used Estee Lauder and was immediately welcomed by the department associates. At the end of my internship, I had to present the results of these projects in a PowerPoint to senior managers in one of the large Von Maur locations.
I learned a lot from my social media project as I had never posted from a store's platform account. I used props and decorations to make cosmetic products look more appealing to get more engagement on the photos. Ladies' Night was stressful to plan but successful in the outcome. Although it took many checklists, early mornings, and convincing associates to make appointment goals, I was proud to present this information.
The only Estee Lauder associate went on a vacation which meant that I was in charge of maintaining the counter and meeting daily sales goals–this is when I learned the most. It was stressful on top of my two other projects, but I am grateful for the experience.
Some of the skills that I have been able to improve during my internship include my communication, event planning, leadership, data analysis, and social media skills. I learned how to speak with my managers, executives, fellow interns, and customers while holding myself to a high standard.
Next, I was never much of an event planner; I would typically send out a text to a bunch of friends and set out chips in the hopes that everyone would show up at the time that I said. Now, I know how to plan efficiently in order to meet goals and create a successful event from my time with Ladies' Night. My leadership abilities have grown immensely since starting this internship as I have grown as a professional through opportunities to show myself as a leader.
I was never one to enjoy the business analysis aspect to merchandising, however, I found it to be interesting and enriched my understanding of the brands that I worked for. Finally, I grew up with social media – and so did the rest of my generation – which is why I was not as concerned about the social media project. However, it was nerve-wracking at first to have access to a store-wide social media account but I knew I wanted to make a good impression. I took time with my posts, setting up backdrops and using different filters.
This internship experience is one that I will never forget for a variety of reasons. The people I worked with made the process less scary, stressful, and more welcoming walking in as a stranger. My managers were always there to cheer me on and inform me that they recognize my hard work. The executives that I was able to meet briefly during my trips gave us real-life knowledge of the company--information that I will always remember and take with me into the future.
Overall, the Von Maur Store Management internship was packed full of responsibilities and opportunities. Opportunities to grow as a future professional and human being, for that, I am forever grateful.