Optimizing E-Sales and Customer Engagement

Emma Kelly ’16 reports on her summer internship at e-commerce Rue La La.

This summer, thanks to the generosity of the Middlesex Alumni Association, I was able to accept a ten-week unpaid internship position at Rue La La in Boston. Rue La La is an E-commerce fashion company that sells designer brands at discounted prices in a flash sale model. While I was at Rue this summer the learning curve was certainly steep, as this was my first real office job, but I left feeling as though I had learned more in the past two months than I have in any other summer of my life. I worked hard and committed fully to grow both personally and professionally. This internship was able to help me to do just that.

I believe what really set this internship apart from many others like it was the level of work I was doing every day. I was never seen as lesser than any of the other employees of the company. I was not sent on coffee runs or made to do the busy work no one else felt like dealing with. Rather I was given real and important tasks and was given the autonomy to work through problems, develop ideas, and suggest changes completely on my own. Though my work was incredibly varied I will quickly describe some of the projects and opportunities I had this summer. I developed and maintained boutiques on site based on brand assortment, sales projections, efficiency targets, and best adjacencies. Additionally, I had the opportunity to work with and learn from the VP of Programming. Together we would analyze business results on a weekly basis.

I developed and implemented calendar optimization strategies based on research and data analysis. I was tasked with preplanning the calendar framework for future months and quarters. This meant I had to react to business trends and product availability updates to ensure that the boutique’s offerings would maximize company results. I also managed optimal boutique count, length, and size targets based on history and trend analysis.  Additionally, I analyzed results of personalization initiatives, monitored brand and franchise cadence on our site to ensure appropriate exposure, analyzed visitation, conversion, and demand by launch time to optimize financial results.

Perhaps one of the more unique aspects of my position was the extent to which I was able to collaborate with other teams, including sharing data and analysis, in order to implement new initiatives. Interacting and collaborating with Merchandising, Planning, Production, Creative, Marketing, and Warehouse to identify trends, risks, and opportunities allowed me to not only learn more about every branch of the company, rather than just my own, but also expanded my understanding of the business as an entire entity.  This large-scale view allowed me to recommend specific strategies and actions that enabled us to optimize sales and customer engagement. My day to day was always different, and I felt as though I was constantly learning something new and pushing myself to meet and overcome unique challenges.

My internship culminated in an intern final project. The entire intern team came together from across all different departments and were tasked with creating an hour-long presentation on ways in which the company could improve. This project took hours of research, scheduling interviews with higher ups in the company, diving into company data and statistics, and above all else lots of teamwork, creativity, and time management. Our team of interns came together wonderfully and at the end of our ten-week program presented to the entire executive team our ideas on improving membership experience through site modification, increased personalization efforts, and a more flexible membership model.

I strongly believe this summer opportunity will dramatically increase my ability to be successful in my pursuit of a career in the very competitive business world. First, of course, are the hands-on skills I learned from spending a summer in the workplace. My agility in Excel, my time management skills, and my ability to work with higher-ups in a company have all improved exponentially. In addition to these everyday skills, I was also able to attend ‘Rue University’ classes. These were programs put on by the company that seeks to increase the value and productivity of all their employees. I attended seminars on networking, resume buildings, social media marketing, and financial accounting to name a few. During my ten week program, I was able to successfully increase my marketable skills and business know-how, which I believe will serve me well as I continue my career in business. The close professional relationships I was able to build working with a team of four other programmers, one of whom was a VP at the company was a wonderful introduction to the world of work. By the end of the summer, I viewed them as mentors and friends and am still in close contact with each of them. Apart from my direct team, I was able to meet and shadow many other people in the company which extended and deepened my network of business connections further than where it was at the beginning of the summer. In the business world it is all about who you know, and after this summer I feel as though I could call on any one of my coworkers from Rue to help me in my future job search feeling that they would be happy to put in a good word for me or assist in any way they could.

Lastly, I was the youngest intern at the company, as most of my fellow interns were entering their senior year of college. My ability to secure such a prestigious internship as a freshman in college will, I believe, set my resume apart from my peers as I go on to search for future internships. I believe my head start on the job search shows my ambition, dedication to success, and resourcefulness, all of which I hope will serve me well in securing a job in the business world. I have already begun to apply for internships for the summer of 2018 and have been invited back to interview at Bank of America /Merrill Lynch. I do not think I would have had this opportunity if it were not for my internship at Rue La La. I feel confident that this internship was a key stepping stone in my continued pursuit of an esteemed career in the professional world.

I now would like to thank you Mr. Morrissey and the entire board of Middlesex Alumni Association for making this opportunity possible. If it were not for the generosity of this board, it would not have been possible for me to accept this unpaid position. Internships have become an essential part of the current job search environment but often require students to pay for the high cost of living and working in a city out of their own student budgets. Programs that help support students committed to exploring career paths through unpaid internships make these goals attainable. I cannot express my gratitude enough that this board had the confidence in my ambition and abilities to invest in my future.

I hope I will be able to return the favor to Middlesex in the future and invest my own time and effort to assure all Middlesex Alumni can enter even the most competitive of industries smoothly. If it were not for Middlesex I would not have the know how to have secured such a position this summer, and if it were not for the Alumni Association I would not have been able to accept such a position. As always, I am forever indebted to this phenomenal school. Thank you for all that you have given me.