Katherine DaleKatherine Dale is a junior with double-major in marketing and retailing and tourism management. January 12 - 14, 2018, she represented the Department of Retailing and Tourism Management as a Student Ambassador at the National Retail Federation Student Program. She shares her experiences.

The National Retail Federation (NRF) Student Program is held annually at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City. Over 800 college students from across the country attended this year to learn more about the future of retailing. I had the privilege of representing the University of Kentucky as the Student Ambassador. As a Student Ambassador, I am responsible for informing other students about NRF and completing a service project with other NRF members in the spring. Four other UK Retail and Tourism Management (RTM) students attended the convention, as well as Dr. RayeCarol Cavender, Assistant Professor and NRF member.

Accomplished keynote speakers shared their experiences and wisdom about retail careers. The list of speakers included Neil Blumenthal, Warby Parker co-founder and co-CEO; Lauren Berger, “The Intern Queen;” and Daymond John, one of the stars of ABC’s Shark Tank.

Daymond John SpeakingI personally enjoyed the mentor experience and career fair the most. At the mentor experience, over 100 employees and executives of major companies rotated through tables of students who waited to ask questions and gain advice. I had the pleasure of speaking with executives from Home Depot, Inc., L’Oréal, and Brooks Brothers. I cannot name another time or place where I could interact with so many influential professionals in one room. The same could be said about the career fair. Representatives from major companies like Vera Bradley, Dick’s Sporting Goods, William-Sonoma, and so many more, met with students interested in their internship offerings and employment programs.

There were sponsored events to attend outside of the Javits Center and its daily agenda. I attended the Kohl’s networking event at their New York City design office. At this event, I met other retail students and networked with current Kohl’s employees while eating sweet, Kohl’s-themed treats. Other students attended a question and answer session with designer Rebecca Minkoff at her SoHo store. Dr. Cavender scheduled a private meeting for us with the NES Group, a New York based jewelry wholesaler whose current list of clients includes Nordstrom, TJ Maxx, and Steve Madden. Viewing their showroom was an eye-opening experience for me because I was not familiar with wholesale operations in retail.

NRF UK Students

There was so much information to soak in at the convention and scheduled visits, but we were also given time to explore New York City. I was able to do all of the conventional tourist fare like eating pizza, attending a Broadway production and shopping at every flagship store imaginable. I am very grateful to Dr. Cavender and Department of Retailing and Tourism Management for making my first trip to New York such a beneficial learning experience. If you are interested in a future in retail, I would encourage you to make plans to attend the NRF Student Program next year.

Author: Katherine Dale