From Intern to Full-time this Alum took NYC by Storm
Every month NuView will be asking a UNT alum 10 questions about what its like living and working in the “real world.” As the starter of NuView we thought it would be appropriate to have is Subrina Hossain as our first alum!
UNT Fashion Merchandising Alum, Former Merchandising Inc. President of ‘14-’15, AND founder of NuView, Subrina Hossain answered the top 10 questions our writers had about her working at Ross as a Junior Accessories buyer and moving to New York City.
- Is being a buyer for handbags completely different from apparel, or are the trends and research generally the same? In other words, how easy is it to expand from buying in apparel to doing something like accessories or cosmetics?
You’ll find that most retailers will move buyers from area to area, so that they can be versatile and adaptable because a good buyer can buy anything. The necessary skill set to be a buyer is the same regardless of what area you buy, you just have to learn the ins and outs of another business using those same skills. I interned in the juniors dresses department but now I’m in junior handbags. I had to learn an entirely new business, what the vendors are like, what my price points are, what kinds of trends my customer likes, but I still use the same negotiation and relationship building skills and I still go competitive shopping and study my customer.
- When starting with a new company, whether it be an internship or a new job position, what is the biggest challenge you have to overcome, and what tactics do you have for becoming comfortable in a new professional setting?
My biggest challenge has always been self-doubt. There was always a little voice in my head that tried to convince me that I’d fail, maybe I wouldn’t fit in with the company culture, maybe I wouldn’t understand the job, maybe my coworkers wouldn’t like me, maybe maybe maybe. Maybe take all of that negative energy and use it as motivation to prove your own self wrong. I recently went to Sophia Amaruso’s Nasty Galaxy book signing. If you don’t know, she’s the founder of NastyGal and author of a book I’m sure we all have on our night stands, Girl Boss. An audience member asked Sophia how she overcomes self doubt and with a little laugh she said “you don’t, you manage it. Remind yourself why you’re worth it.”
- What classes or experiences from UNT have helped most in your current role at Ross?
It wasn’t until the retail math class that I actually became a fan of math. Buyers use retail math on a daily basis in the office and during appointments with vendors. We also design a lot of our own handbags so the product development class comes in handy. Experience wise, Merchandising Inc. (if I haven’t said it enough) really helped prepare me for my role because I enhanced my soft skills such as networking, leadership skills, and time management, amongst others.
- What advice do you have for someone looking to become a buyer? How should they prepare?
Don’t just do the one internship you have to for your degree; take part in as many internships and job shadowings that you can because you will learn something new in all of them and add to your tool-box of skills. Having any sort of sales and customer service experience is also important. A lot of people overlook sales floor experience but having in-store experience helps you put the pieces together better when you get to the corporate side. I interned in stores for Marshalls and Ross; without those experiences I wouldn’t have gotten such a good understanding of the off-price customer. Take on roles and projects that challenge you, if you are comfortable you’re not growing.
5. What are your least and most favorite aspects of your job? One of the best things about buying is that one day is not the same as the next and this keeps things exciting and new. The spontaneity of the job and likely possibility that your outlook calendar will change at least five times in the day keeps you on your toes and forces you to be adaptable. I also love that buying is a combination of fashion and business. It’s the best of both worlds. I’m not exaggerating when I say that there’s not one thing I don’t like about it. Some days are tougher than others, maybe something didn’t go my way or I didn’t get a deal I wanted but the good thing is there’s always tomorrow.
- For someone looking to move to NYC, what can be expected? Do you have any advice on how to ease the transition of acclimating to life in New York?
I experienced a lot of change in my life all at the same time; I interned as an ASM (assistant store manager) at Ross that summer, officially graduated ten weeks later, then packed my bags and moved to New York two weeks after that, and started my job two days after I moved. I expected everything to quickly fall into place at the same time. I learned the difficult way that life doesn’t work like that. New York City is known to be exciting and fun, but it’s also overwhelming and scary. The most important and helpful thing you can do is give yourself time to adjust. Once you’re here, you’re in for life. I had very high expectations of myself and what my life would be like, but Friends is just a scripted tv show and unplanned adventure is so much more thrilling. Living in New York is like buying, in the sense that not one day is like another and life is always spontaneous and exciting. Embrace this chaos with open arms.
- What is something that you learned from being in Merchandising Inc that still helps you today?
Merchandising Inc. helped me get out of my introverted shell and turned me into a people person. In this industry, you have to be outgoing and charismatic. Building and maintaining relationships is one of the most important aspects of this job. I have to know how to schmooze with vendors and keep positive relationships with them, because ultimately that will help me get the deals and goods I want, while also keeping the vendors happy because it should be a mutually beneficial partnership.
- Name something that you always keep on your desk at work?
A baby succulent and pictures of my family and friends.
- If you had to go to do everything all over again, what would you do differently?
I wish I had spent less time being anxious and more time enjoying the time I was in.
- In your experience, what are some attributes of individuals who are most successful?
Employers want passionate people and they can read whether or not you have passion or simply interest in the first five minutes of an interview. If you’re just interested in this industry, it’s not enough; you wouldn’t spend your life with someone you’re only interested in, but someone you are passionate about. That’s how you should feel about your career. Passion fuels your fire because you wake up every morning looking forward to your job. You spend years of your life fighting to land your dream job but just because you have it doesn’t mean you should stop fighting for your career; never lose that fire.
Words by Subrina Hussain and NV Career Editors & Writers
Edit by Maia Wilson
Photos from Subrina Hussain