Gianna Rivera, buyer at The TJX Cos., Said the internship experiences at LIM College not only helped with networking and relationship building, but also served as a way to guide her career path. In fact, her internship at The TJX Cos moved. Along with advice from a trusted mentor focusing on her career from luxury wholesale to the off-price retail segment.
Here, Rivera discusses her career path and challenges and experiences along the way.
Headline 4 Ever: How did your education and internship experiences help shape your career decisions?
Gianna Rivera: The internship opportunities I had through my experience at LIM College helped me build relationships in the fashion industry and let me find out what I was really interested in. There are so many paths within the fashion industry. I had originally wanted to be an accounting manager in wholesale, but my last internship before my senior year was in buying. That was when I realized that was what I wanted to do and that was what led me to TJX.
Headline 4 Ever: What were some of the challenges you faced on your career journey?
GR: I will not necessarily say that I have had challenges during my career journey, but I will say that I have had many “learning opportunities”. When you go to work for a large company after college, you realize that there are many things you do not learn until you get to work. Communication and influencing skills are extremely important. I will say that I have had a lot of trial and error in the two areas.
Influence and communication go hand in hand, and everyone treats information differently. Once you have learned how to influence different types of business partners, it will help you become more successful as you progress in your career.
Headline 4 Ever: Have you had mentors in the industry? If so, how have they helped you?
GR: Marla Greene, one of my professors at LIM, was the person who pushed me to enter the retail arena outside of the award. I had always wanted to work for a luxury designer brand in Manhattan, but during my final year of college, Professor Greene said, “The industry is changing, and you have to change with it.” That was the best advice I have ever received.
Headline 4 Ever: Career-wise, what’s the best decision you’re ever made?
GR: Taking the risk of moving to Massachusetts – a state I had never been to myself – to my senior year internship. I knew no one there, but I followed my passion for business and the desire to work in the low-cost industry. It was the best decision I have ever made. Six and a half years later, I have gone through the career path and can finally say that I am a MarMaxx buyer who buys for 2,400 stores nationwide.
Headline 4 Ever: What advice would you give to someone considering pursuing a career in the industry?
GR: Take every opportunity you can! You never know what your path will be or where you will end up. If in the end you do not like it, you have at least tried it and know what you want for your career.
Headline 4 Ever: Where do you see the fashion industry – and your career – going in the next five to ten years?
GR: I think the fashion industry will be completely different in 10 years, especially around how consumers shop. You can see that this is starting to happen already with the closure of many brick stores. This year alone, more than 1,000 stores have closed. Shopping malls will change or slowly begin to disappear where consumers are more interested in shopping malls. Consumers make the majority of their purchases online, and when they are not, they will shop in stores at no cost to get a deal.