By Faith Foushee
Digital Media Editor
The National Retail Federation Student Association is a group of student leaders dedicated to being retail’s greatest advocates and educating High Point University students about the retail industry. Typically, the club spends the fall semester preparing for the NRF Foundation Student Program. The conference is usually held in New York City in January but will not be happening in 2021.
This year, instead of the conference, the NRF Foundation is offering many opportunities to learn about the retail industry and connect with recruiters through the NRF Foundation All Access.
The opportunities of All Access include conversations with industry leaders, professional development opportunities, mentorship opportunities, behind-the-scenes tours of stores and recruiter chats.
“NRFSA has provided me with amazing opportunities,” said HPU sophomore Julia Newman. “Even in the middle of a pandemic, the NRFSA has found ways to provide students with many benefits.”
Every Wednesday, there are exclusive conversations with industry leaders, such as Jalal Hamad, Home Depot’s senior director; Damon Jones, Procter & Gamble’s chief communications officer; and many more. Students have the opportunity to submit questions and have them answered by professionals.
The Executive Mentor Experience provides students the chance to network with retail industry executives in a small group environment. Participants receive career advice, learn about the professional’s role and hear about the experiences that led them to where they are today.
“The NRF has provided me with numerous professional development seminars, by assisting me with interview preparation and going over resumes,” said HPU’s NRFSA chapter president Seanna Naylon. “The NRF All Access executive mentorship session allowed me to connect with over 25 different retail executives all across the industry. I learned invaluable information about how to be a leader and how to propel my career.”
Retail Backstage is an event where participants get a virtual behind-the-scenes tour of various retail stores, corporate offices and other related sites. The tours also allow students to get to know the executives and discover roles and details in various departments of the business. Upcoming tours include retailers, such as Macy’s, Qurate Retail Group, Burlington Coat Factory, Kohl’s and Home Depot.
There are many professional development events where retailers discuss the skills needed to succeed in today’s work environment. These workshops explore various professional development topics, such as feedback and how to move career ideas forward.
“The NRF allows me to grow my network and provides opportunities for self-improvement,” said Naylon. “The retail industry covers all study disciplines, from computer science to communications.”
The retail industry hires people for all majors, not just fashion or business majors. The online retail industry is becoming increasingly popular, as are the careers in technology.
The NRFSA has put a focus on the technology field with sessions about the future of retail powered by technology. During these sessions, information technology executives and professionals from stores, such as Kohl’s, Meijer, Ross and others discuss the power of chatbots in retail. Another technology session includes executives from Target and PetSmart.
For further information, students can join Kohl’s Artificial Intelligence Operations Engineering Manager Mark Yearling, Meijer Information Technology Manager Mitchell Ross and Meijer IT Business Engagement Strategy Director Scott Pallas for a discussion on the power of chatbots in retail.
Recruiter chats are an experience in which recruiters speak about their company and what positions have active applications. The chat is an informal conversation, so students can comment and ask questions. Upcoming chats are with recruiters from Qurate Retail Group, Amazon, Belk and Dick’s Sporting Goods.
“I have the chance to gain a lot of networking connections,” said Newman. “Because of the NRF, I now have connections at Nike, Sephora and Target. In addition, all of the club members at HPU are great people and are fun to be around. I’m so glad I joined this club during my freshman year.”
These opportunities will continue to be held by the NRF Foundation throughout the semester, but students must register to attend.
“There is a place for everyone within the retail industry, but you must take the first step and join the NRFSA,” said Naylon.
HPU NRFSA meetings are held every Monday at 7:30 p.m. on Zoom. The club may begin small, in-person meetings soon.
Students interested in joining the club or registering for these opportunities are invited to reach out to Naylon at firstname.lastname@example.org. Students can also follow the club on Instagram, @nrfsa_hpu.