Internship Spotlight: Rachel Solomon – The Neiman Marcus Group

Rachel_headshot

BHP Senior, Rachel Solomon, has always wanted to work in high-end retail and when the opportunity presented itself for her to work at Neiman Marcus she jumped on it. She is very happy to announce the internship resulted in a full-time offer, which she just recently accepted.

Company: The Neiman Marcus Group

Intern Position: Buying/Planning Intern

Full-Time Position: Executive Development Program (to become an Assistant Buyer)

What steps did you take to secure your internship?

I used the Neiman Marcus Careers page to find the opportunity for the internship, and then met with HR representatives at the Fall McCombs Career Expo. I applied online in October, then took a retail math test and went through two rounds of interviews before eventually receiving an offer.

What were the responsibilities for this role?
I was a rotational planning intern, so I worked in the Home & Gifts and Men’s divisions with the Senior Merchandise Planners and Assistant Buyers. I helped recap sales history, forecast and project sales for future seasons, and allocate merchandise across stores. I also worked on a team project with the other interns to suggest the ways in which Neiman Marcus could leverage big data. We were lucky enough to present our findings to the senior executives in their boardroom at the end of the internship.

Describe the culture within the organization.
The culture at Neiman Marcus was one of my favorite things about the company. Going into luxury retail, I was expecting more of a cutthroat atmosphere, but what I experienced was just the opposite. Everyone was so warm and willing to help me with everything from my daily tasks to where I should take my visiting friends out to dinner. I cannot wait to go back to the office next fall and work with some of the most caring and creative people I have ever met.

What advice would you offer your peers in the Honors Program about getting the most out of an internship?
I think the most important part of any job is the people you surround yourself with. I would make an effort to get to know as many people within the company as you can, because it’ll tell you a lot about what the company stands for and what the culture is like. And as an intern, I was pleasantly surprised by how many people were not only willing, but excited, to tell me about what they do on a daily basis and even let me help. Sometimes I ended up doing work for people who weren’t my direct supervisors, which made for an exciting and well-rounded experience. So, I would say don’t be afraid to reach out to those around you because you never know what you’ll get to learn or do.

What was your favorite part about this internship?
I’ve always been interested in a career that would let me actively use both the right and left sides of my brain, so I loved the fact that I could spend hours in a database analyzing sales history and margins, then open a binder full of swatches and images to see exactly what the products I was analyzing looked and felt like. And at the end of my internship, I got to attend a weeklong event where many of our vendors came to present their products, oftentimes in the form of a fashion show. That was probably one of the most exciting weeks of my life.

How did you find your classes in the Business Honors Program at the university to be applicable during your internship?
I think the communication skills taught in BA 324 helped me to secure the internship, while MIS 301 provided me with a good foundation of technical skills that I needed while working in the buying offices. Sometimes I was even able to show other employees Excel tricks I learned in MIS, which was a good feeling over two years after having taken the class.

What are the most valuable lessons you gained from this internship?
Since I rotated in so many offices, I had the opportunity to meet and work with a lot of different people in the company. Oftentimes, I only worked in a particular office for two to three days. So I had to learn to adjust to new working styles and quickly prove that I had the skills necessary to help with whatever tasks my supervisors would assign. Since they hadn’t seen my previous work, sometimes that was challenging. But I learned how to briefly summarize other projects I had done and systems I had worked with over the course of the summer so they could figure out what I could complete without training, and what they would need to help me with.

What parts of your internship convinced you to sign on full-time?
I have always wanted to go into luxury retail, and have had my sights set on Neiman Marcus for years. I walk into the Austin store to find inspiration on a bad day, and I really can’t imagine anything better than working to fill the stores with the products I find so inspiring. Combine that with the fact that everyone I worked with this summer was so kind, helpful, bright, and driven, and there is no place I would rather be. I am so excited to begin this journey after graduation.

ExxonMobil VP Ken Cohen Visits with BHP Sophomores

Ken CohenBHP students had the unique opportunity to hear from ExxonMobil’s Vice President of Public and Governmental Affairs, Ken Cohen, last week during their sophomore lyceum course. Cohen has worldwide responsibility for the company’s public policy, government relations, communications, media relations, and corporate citizenship activities, all of which he touched on during his extended Q&A session with BHP Faculty Director Robert Prentice.

Cohen has been with ExxonMobil for 37 years. He earned his law degree from Baylor University, then had a short stint as a professor at the Robert H. McKinney School of Law at Indiana University before making the move to ExxonMobil. He has moved around quite a bit during his 37 years, but said he has enjoyed each role he has undertaken along the way. He encouraged students to find a work situation in which they are enjoying what is in front of them every day, and are not spending their time thinking about what they want to be doing next. “There is no typical day when you are dealing with the public, government, and media, and I have enjoyed every challenge,” said Cohen.

Students in the class learned more about the main functions of Cohen’s department, which include maintaining ExxonMobil’s “license to operate” in countries and communities across the world, negotiating access to resources, and reputation management. Cohen touched on recent headlines and explained how world events come into play in the work he does. ExxonMobil is the largest foreign investor in Russia and has major operations in the Middle East, so current events in those areas are a major focus of his work. These two examples alone shed light on the complex set of challenges Cohen and his team deal with on a daily basis.

In addition to his role as VP, Cohen also serves as Chairman of the ExxonMobil Foundation and the ExxonMobil PAC. He answered questions from students related to both areas. Students didn’t hold back on questions related to climate change, fracking, and PAC contributions. Cohen answered each one thoroughly and openly discussed the challenges ExxonMobil faces in the area of geopolitics, specifically related to controversial fracking practices.

One policy area that ExxonMobil is paying special attention to right now is education. Cohen said the company is closely following what is happening with higher education standards, specifically at UT Austin, because of ExxonMobil’s hiring interests and a desire to keep up the rigorous standards that have produced top employees for the company.

The sophomore lyceum class has a focus on leadership and ethics, so Cohen also discussed the qualities he feels are important in leadership: honesty, clarity, and being a good team member. In addition to exhibiting these traits himself throughout the discussion, he also mixed in a good dose of humor, keeping the students engaged. BHP students in the sophomore lyceum course will hear from 10 executives this semester, all of whom will offer great insight into their industries and valuable advice on leadership. Many thanks to Ken for taking time out of his busy schedule to speak with our students!

Annual BHP Community BBQ Kicks Off the School Year

BBQ

Last night, around 200 students attended the annual BHP Community BBQ, where they chatted over free BBQ at Scholz Garten and then competed in six rounds of trivia with representatives from BP, ConocoPhillips, Dell, Deloitte, Dropbox, PepsiCo and PwC.

Teams were asked to choose a team name. Some of the names that garnered the best reactions from the crowd were  “Sorcerer’s Prentice,” “Staff Infection” and “Dr. Konana’s Voiceover IP.”

Trivia rounds done by “Geeks who Drink” were witty and hilarious. Rounds included: “Bad YouTube Karaoke,” which required participants to identify songs that someone had completely botched and posted on Youtube; “Wallstreet Balderdash,” in which teams had to identify the true meaning of made-up words used by those working on Wall Street; and “Do Give Up Your Day Job,” a round which brought to light some interesting past occupations of famous celebrities.

The competition was fierce and in the end teams Deloitte and Lets Get Fiscal tied for first place, but a tie breaker question set team Deloitte apart as the first place winner. Deloitte team members included:

BBQ4

Top row (from left to right):
Arvind Sivakumar
Rabin Shetty
Sai Yeluru
James Abbott
Malorie Liljenwall (Deloitte rep.)

Bottom row (from left to right):
Mickey Li
Kevin Yu
Sophia Ding
Macy Huang
Lisa Feng
Nazifa Mim
Kevin Chiu (Deloitte rep.)

Special thanks to our sponsors: BP, ConocoPhillips, Dell, Deloitte, Dropbox, PepsiCo and PwC!

 

BHP Alumni Mentor Network Provides Valuable Connection

BHP is now in its third year of a new alumni/student mentoring program which connects sophomores and juniors in the program with alumni who have been in their shoes and want to give back to the next generation of BHP students. We have had great participation from both students and alumni and encourage any alumni of the program to sign up here by this Friday if you want to be matched with a student this year.

*Note that the student registration for the program is now closed

Sayli Khadilkar

BHP Junior Sayli Khadilkar was paired up with Class of 2009 alumna Maggie Wallace last year. Sayli said the experience proved to her that one of her favorite things about BHP – the supportive, ‘pay-it-forward’ culture – carries on even beyond graduation. The two have never met in person, but have had a productive mentoring relationship through phone calls and emails.

Sayli signed up for the Alumni Mentor Network because she knew it would be a great opportunity to get to know a BHP alum. And she hoped to gain insight and advice that would help her through the rest of my time at UT and with her future career goals.

For Maggie, she wanted to pay it forward, saying that she received a lot of guidance from both older students in the program and BHP Alumni, and that those mentors played a critical role in helping her figure out how to spend her time at school and what to do after graduation.

Students are matched with mentors based on their majors, career path, and other interests. Sayli and Maggie definitely clicked and found their common interests. “We learned that we were in the same study abroad program in Paris and that we both love many of the same restaurants in Austin,” said Maggie. “It has been wonderful to develop a personal relationship with Sayli”

“I was very surprised by how real my mentor was with me,” said Sayli. “I asked my mentor anything from interview tips to study abroad travel advice, and felt completely comfortable asking seemingly silly questions. I loved how candid our conversations were, and really appreciated that my mentor was always willing to help me.”

Maggie Wallace - mentor(small)Maggie is a strong advocate for the program. “I definitely recommend the Alumni Mentor Program to other BHP alumni. Not only is it a way to give back to the BHP community, but it’s a lot of fun to relive what it was like when I was going through it years ago. I believe that mentoring is the best way to use one’s own experiences, both successes and failures, to help shorten the learning curve for others.” She says it is most important to her that Sayli knows she is there to support her and listen to her, not only to give her advice. “I want to be available to help here navigate stressful times and make the decisions that really count.”

Sayli is grateful for this constant support from her mentor. “Participating in this program has made me realize how lucky we are to have a strong alumni network and how important it is to continue to give back to the program even beyond graduation,” she said. “The Alumni Mentor Network has been a really valuable experience for me, and I can’t wait to be a mentor in the network after I graduate.”

Event Recap: BHP Class of 2018 Leadership Kickoff

Written by Kristi Tamberelli, BHP Leadership Kickoff Co-Chair

2014 Freshmen Group Photo

I love event planning and knew I would enjoy the preparation and creativity involved in co-chairing Leadership Kickoff, the signature event for incoming BHP freshmen. Now that the planning has ended and the kickoff is over, I realize my favorite part of co-chairing this event was actually getting to watch the freshmen interact and create lasting friendships. I still remember how much fun I had at BHP Leadership Kickoff my freshman year, and I felt so honored to help make that same experience a reality for this year’s freshman.

For a BHP freshman, there’s no better way to start the next four years than to attend the BHP Leadership Kickoff. This past weekend, students gathered to get a taste of how amazing their college careers are going to be, all while learning how to work together and become leaders alongside their fellow classmates. Here are a few of my favorite reasons why BHP Leadership Retreat will end up being a highlight in your college career at UT.

BHPeople. First of all, this weekend is all about making friends. It’s the first time you’ll realize how incredible the people you are surrounded by are, and it’s only the start of meeting colleagues and building connections. Students spend a majority of the weekend with their peer mentor groups that they work with throughout their first semester of college. This year’s peer mentors are dedicated, relatable, and fully equipped to help freshmen have a smoother transition into college. I loved getting to know each of the peer mentors this weekend and watching them interact with their students.

BHPlayoffs. This year we switched things up! Instead of having each peer mentor group perform a skit in front of the rest of the groups, we created a series of challenges to be performed. Students competed in challenges ranging from coming up with the best team cheer to shaking ping pong balls out of a Kleenex box using their best dance moves. According to the students, the playoffs were a hit, and all the mentors agreed that it was an exciting switch up from the skit tradition.

BHPledge. Towards the end of the first day of the retreat, all the students get dressed up for a more serious portion of the weekend. Every BHP freshman takes a pledge to act ethically in BHP and in their future careers. The ceremony included speakers from the BHP Ethic’s Board, as well as BHP Faculty Director Robert Prentice, followed by each student signing the pledge. This part of the retreat is really special to me because I think it’s unique that we take the time to emphasize ethics and set the expectations high from day one.

There you have it. In BHP, you can have it all: friends, healthy competition, and ethical behavior—but that’s only the start. After all, what starts here changes the world. Best of luck Class of 2018!

Ropes Course