Christina Daniels Corporate Intern for Store Operations at American Eagle

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My final week at American Eagle has finally arrived….much to my dismay.  Unfortunately, my mentor is on PTO (paid time off) for my last week and will be vacationing in Florida for the remainder of my time at AE.  So I am left to my own devices!  

Exploring Pitts burgh has truly been amazing.  I have to admit, I wasn’t that impressed at first.  But once you get to know the city and delve a little deeper, you stumble upon the weekend craft fairs, pierogi hamburgers, and free concerts in the park (Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros anyone?).  Once my friends and I started to do some exploring, that where me and Pittsburgh’s love affair began.  And it has been a whirlwind. I have found the cure to boredom and it is Pittsburgh. I have been to the World Famous Falling Water, been to the first ever Primanti Brothers, went to Kennywood Amusement Park, kayaked on the scenic river,  thrift shopped and found some amazing name brand items (Diane von Furstenburg, Marc Jacobs, Kate Spade…as Rachel Zoe would say “I die”), had a pierogi hamburger, gone to a Pirates baseball game on the river, been to some amazing free concerts (Edwards Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros & Brett Dennon), and the list goes on.

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The amazing Falling Water

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I stumbled upon a Vintage Grand Prix going on in the park one day!

 

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My roommate and I kayaking on the river!  It was such a beautiful day!!!

 

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Only 1 of the 446 bridges in Pittsburgh…you can never have too many.

 

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My roomate and I heading out for a casual walk, if only it were a little nicer out…

 

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The famous images of Elvis Presley, silkscreened by  Andy Warhol.  We went and visited the Andy Warhol museum and it was very cool to see his work up close!

 

As far as my internship goes, I have continued to sit in on influential meeting and been able to see how issues are sorted out and what thought processes go into decision making down to the store level. I have even been featured on the American Eagle blog!!  ( http://www.ae.com/blog/ae-friends-family-meet-the-human-resources-store-operations-legal-and-supply-chain-interns/ )  Store Operations has been a great department to work in.  Every day at work has been different.  And I have also gotten insight into alot of other departments as well!  We have meetings with almost every department, so it has helped me learn more specifically about what each department does.  We have had classes on almost every department, which has definitely given me a more thorough view of how the company works on a broader scale. As I’ve mentioned before, we also have executive roundtables on top of our classes.  The most influential roundtables for me were with Cathy Unruh, the Executive Vice President- Chief Talent & Culture Officer and Robert Hanson our CEO.  They were both informative in very different ways.  Cathy Unruh gave amazing career advice.

Cathy’s Lessons:

1.Your first job will likely not be in the field or industry that will define your career; however, these initial experiences are a critical part of your career journey.

2.Passion for industry and alignment of company and personal values matter. Fit matters.

3.Leadership is not a straight line to the top. Be flexible and venturesome in stepping up to unexpected opportunities. Some of the richest experiences may come from those unplanned destinations.

4.Values form the basis for leadership, but you will not know what your true values are until they are tested under pressure. How you navigate obstacles brings out your character and defines your leadership brand.

5.Leaders make conscious choices. Sometimes the choices are really hard. There are sacrifices and tradeoffs. Make sure it’s what you want and that you understand what you have to give up.

6.Leaders cannot succeed on their own. They build strong support teams around them. They take the initiative to seek out mentors. They don’t wait for a formal program

Her career advice really spoke to me.  She made them personal and gave stories about her life related to each one.  And it was all advice that I had never heard before.  I had not really considered making sure a company’s values are in line with my own when looking into companies that I liked.  It is something I never considered, but it really does make a difference.  AE shares the same values I do and carries them out in ways that all departments and branches of the company are able to see, all the way down to our customer.  It is really their values that kept me working there year after year and to seek out opportunities to further my career with them.

 

Robert Hanson was extremely down to earth.  He was honest with us and gave us real answers to questions rather than “corporate answers”.  One of the pieces of advice I took away from our roundtable was to find time for yourself.  He meditates 15 minutes in the morning and again at night to keep himself grounded and relief stress that comes along with the CEO package.  He was also very driven when it came to evaluating his work performance.  Before he joined the company, there were no standards in place for evaluating a CEO with the board or with EVPs, so he put an evaluation sheet into place.  He is evaluated by the board every year, and by all of the EVPs every month.  The evaluations with the EVPs go both ways.  He evaluates and coaches the EVPs and they fill out the evaluation for him and go over any areas of improvement.  He said they usually last about an hour or hour and a half.  I applaud him for his continuous development.  When most people get to the top, they think “that’s it, I have nothing else to develop”, but there is always something you can do better.  So I think it is that kind of attitude that has helped drive him during the tough quarter AE had.

 

That’s all for now.  I will leave you with this wonderful card that my mentor gave me on his last day.

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