Internships in International Retail
Posted on Friday, July 10, 2009
DFS is known as the leading luxury retailer in the world, catering to international travelers. Marshall Brennan '10, Sarah Cummings '11 and Ruiwan Xu '11 are currently based at DFS in the exciting city of Hong Kong.
Brennan is majoring in media and society and finished a six-week internship with DFS on July 3. In that short time, he moved through several areas of the company, completing projects and learning about a range of DFS' operations.
"My first two weeks focused on the store and I learned everything from selling strategies (consumer relations) to insight on each specific brand that DFS sells," explains Brennan, whose focus at that time was on luxury watches including brands like Omega, Cartier, Tag Heuer, Brightling, Tissot, and Rado. During this first two weeks, he was also able to spend a few days in the DFS warehouse which ships DFS products to their gallerias worldwide.
Over the course of the next month, Brennan learned about merchant purchases and how to determine which products to keep or discontinue for the upcoming season. He explains that this was probably his favorite experience due to the "creativity that comes into play when making decisions." He also then delved into the strategic side of the operation while working with the merchandising team, which makes sure decisions fall under the financial boundaries of the company.
Cummings is currently working with the Client Relationship Management division of DFS on projects relating to selling services and research for the Platinum Services Club. She has an individual major, China in the Global Economy and will be taking part in the HWS China summer program in August taught by Darrin Magee, assistant professor of environmental studies.
Recently, Cummings went to Macao for the day to meet with the general managers of the DFS Galleria Macao and the City of Dreams. She explains that her internship at DFS is helping her learn more about working abroad internationally-something that she hopes to do after HWS.
"Interning in Hong Kong has enabled me to broaden my international business experience," she says. "DFS focuses on the international traveler so I've learned a great deal about marketing to clients and maintaining relations when your clients are frequent travelers."
Xu is an architecture major, economics minor who is considering a second minor in studio art.
"Hong Kong is a great place, a perfect balance of western and eastern culture," says Xu, who is interning with the Store Development and Planning Group at DFS, responsible for store interior design planning, project management and visual merchandising of the DFS Galleria."
Xu was assigned to the Sun Plaza Galleria Renovation project this summer and says she is enjoying the exposure to "A new world where business is essential to architecture and design."
Similar to the experience of Brennan and Cummings, Xu is working on a variety of small projects. DFS is striving to be green and is working to adopt Environmentally Sustainable Designs (ESD) for their Sun Plaza Galleria Renovation Project. One of Xu's project tasks includes conducting research on services that can be provided to DFS to meet this goal.
"I've learned a lot about retail design and DFS luxury business and I've found myself really interested in interior design," she says.
Brennan, Cummings and Xu agree that with an interest in retail, their time in Hong Kong is a great experience. "I have made many new friends and learned a lot about a new culture during my time here. Doing an internship in a foreign country has made me aware of the opportunities that lie outside of the U.S. and has made for a great growing experience," Brennan says.
The internships were established through assistance from DFS' Chief Executive Officer Edward Brennan P'06, P'10. Xu's experience was funded in part by the Ralph A. and Jane Pica Endowed Internship Fund; Cummings received support from the Charles H. Salisbury, Jr. '63, P'94 Endowed Internship Fund. Both funds were established to provide financial support for students who are supplementing classroom education with internship experience to gain a practical understanding of the demands and rewards of future careers.