Today concludes Belk's Merchant Executive Trainee Program and yes, I've been placed....I probably should've mentioned this in the beginning, but basically when you start, you're thrown into a buying office to learn about what buyers & planners do to drive a business. You're expected to immerse yourself in the business to learn and perform the daily tasks of an assistant buyer and planner without a lot of structure while attending training classes. After three months, you have the option to become an assistant buyer, assistant planner, or assistant product manager (private brands). The caveat with this is that you have to interview to get placed and that also means you're not guaranteed the position of your preference.
I felt that the effectiveness of the program ultimately depended on the office in which you were placed to train - I was lucky in that I worked with some very supportive individuals. My favorite aspect of the program was being able to see my work come to fruition especially in the realm of advertising and planograms. Overall, I would recommend anyone interested in retail/merchandising to apply to Belk - I see it as a growing company being led by very strong, intelligent people - it's not always a perfect world, but no where is...
If you're wondering, I interviewed for an assistant buyer position in our Contemporary Office (which buys Theory, French Connection, Marc Jacobs, Desigual, Free People, and that sorta cool stuff), but I wasn't selected...I think that ended up working out in my favor. I actually got placed as an assistant planner in our Juniors' Bottoms office and I think I'll enjoy the fast fashion aspect of that. I believe this program has really reinforced the importance of always being very open-minded even if you end up somewhere you don't want to be...Belk seems to do a very good job of letting people cross different paths. I know I'll eventually be on the merchant (buying) side, but for now, I'm really going to immerse myself in planning and I feel pretty confident that this foundation will make me stronger wherever in the future.