Alumni Update

Fashion Merchandising alum Allison Ferguson at internship site, Nordstrom at the Stoneridge Mall.

So much for taking the summer off! Recent Fashion Merchandising alumna Allison Ferguson has hit the ground running, landing a coveted retail management internship with Nordstrom. While some girls dream of spending summer time shopping, Allison has been heading in to the Stoneridge Mall in Pleasanton to shadow Nordstrom’s Men’s Wear manager, learning how to merchandise the department and maximize the store’s selling goals each day. Allison sat down with Fashion School Daily and took us behind the scenes of one of the country’s leading department stores, manager style.

When did you first become interested in fashion?

Fashion has interested me ever since I was a little girl.  My mom and I would always go shopping on the weekends. I was just fascinated with the fashion world.  I was the little girl that loved to dress up and create outfits for my friends. However, I took it very seriously. Not your typical day of playing dress up. Everyone in my family has gone in to the medical field, but I knew that it wasn’t for me. I was going to do something I loved, which was fashion.

Tell me about your experience at the School of Fashion. What were your favorite classes? One of the biggest surprises in what you learned here? Best memory?
Some of my favorite classes were Visual Merchandising, Color and Design (yes, I actually enjoyed this one!), and all of the Fashion Marketing classes. I really enjoyed all of the hands-on courses, even though they were the most challenging.

My best memory at the School of Fashion was my last semester. I really challenged myself during this final term, and learned so much by doing so. Not only did I learn a lot in my classes, but I learned a lot about myself. After it all, I wish all of my semesters had been like my last.

What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about “Fashion Merchandising”?

When people think of Fashion Merchandising, they only think of buying or merchandising/marketing.  They think that a degree in Fashion Merchandising is limiting, however it actually enables you to do so much more. I didn’t plan on instantly getting into management at a retail store, however I use so much of what I have learned in school every day at work.
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Merchandising the Men’s Furnishing department at Nordstrom.

You are currently interning in the retail management program at Nordstrom. Describe for us a typical day. 

My schedule has me shadowing my manager, so I can get a real feel for what management at Nordstrom entails. It starts out by going to the morning managerial meeting to see how much revenue the store generated the day before, and what the goals are for the current day. After the meeting, we filter in all the new merchandise we received for that day. Before the store opens, we re-merchandise the floor to make sure everything is perfect for the customer. In between selling during the day, I can be doing anything from assisting with a customer complaint to drawing up a schematic for the floor move the following week. Everyday I am learning how to balance selling and management duties simultaneously, because all the managers at Nordstrom are selling managers.

What has been the most challenging assignment you’ve been given?

The most challenging assignment I was given was only three weeks into the internship. My manager decided to take the day off, and put me in charge for the whole day by myself! It was a great experience and really tested me.

The store must be in the process of gearing up for Fall. What Autumn trends are you most excited about?
Since I am in the Men’s Furnishings department, I haven’t gotten to look at many Fall trends for women’s wear. However, I have been seeing a lot of leather and chunky sweaters around the store that have come in for our Anniversary Sale. As for men’s wear, patterned shirts and ties are a huge trend. Not being afraid of mixing different patterns and colors is what is coming this Fall.

When you’re not at your internship, where would Fashion School Daily find you in your free time?
Normally you would find me at the mall, but, since I’m now working there, I am normally not around on my day off. Mostly, I am at home relaxing or laying by the pool, enjoying the outdoors.

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