Career Profile: Monica Diliberto, Retail Management

Career Profiles is a series of posts that will feature Haas students who have accepted an internship or full time job offer across various industries. 

Monica Diliberto is currently a 4th year Business Administration student who transferred from Skyline College in San Bruno,monica CA.  Known as the “Retailing Girl”, Monica not only teaches a Retailing DeCal, but also is involved with the Cohort Program as the Shattuck Cohort Leader for the Class of 2015 and is a writer for the Haas Undergraduate’s Blog.  Outside of Haas, Monica is the Executive Administrator for Fashion and Student Trends (FAST), UC Berkeley’s student-run fashion organization which hosts bi-annual fashion shows on campus, and was a host for last semester’s fashion show, Legacy.  During her time at Haas, Monica had acquired an internship with Macy’s for their Store Management Development Program and, after graduation, will be joining Bloomingdale’s for a full time offer, starting August 2015, for their Executive Development Program in San Francisco.

Why Retail Management? What made you join Bloomingdale’s Executive Development Manager Program?

In high school, I was very much into fashion.  I made all of my Homecoming, Winter Formal and Prom dresses; however, I never really though of a career in fashion.  It was not until community college, where I was presented with the opportunity to work for Nordstrom in Palo Alto as a sales associate that I began to think of a potential career in the retail industry.  At the time, I was pursuing business with the intent of going into Forensic Accounting, like my dad.  But then I though to myself, “Can I honestly go to work every single day in the same boring business suit and sit in a cubicle crunching numbers all day?”  While I enjoyed the satisfaction of balancing my books in my accounting courses, I found myself more excited to develop and grow as a leader in the retail industry—and that began at Nordstrom.

While going to community college as a full time student, I was able to work part time at Nordstrom and gain tremendous experience in the fields of sales, product knowledge, and management.  I found that I could not only apply what I was learning in the classroom on the job, but vice versa as well.  And then it hit me: everyone needs and will always need clothing.  That was when I decided to pursue an academic degree in business, with an emphasis in retail management, so that I could become a leader in the retail industry.  And that has led me to Haas.

I’ve learned to never apologize for having high expectations.  Therefore, throughout my experience at Haas, I set the bar high and wanted to see myself end up at a premiere retail company that had a management program which would allow me to grow throughout the company as quickly as possible.  I met two college recruiters at the career fair during my Junior year and was very impressed not only by the program itself, but also by the people with whom I was conversing.  They made my feel as though I were already part of their executive team and showed me the endless career paths that I could pursue with Bloomindale’s.  With the retail experience that I had, in addition to the goals I had laid out for myself, I could definitely see myself exceling with a company like Bloomingdale’s and the recruiters believed the same to be true.

How did you avoid the pressures of ABC recruitment?

Prior to applying to potential business schools while I was at community college, I made a very conscious effort to decide what I wanted to do with my business degree.  Obviously, deciding ahead of time made it easier to write my personal statements, but it would also allow me to stay focused while studying such a broad major.  Therefore, when I decided that I wanted to go into retail management while studying at the Haas School of Business, I knew that I would be going into a program that was renowned for its emphasis and career opportunities within the ABCs.  And while I certainly felt the pressure to become a consultant, investment banker or accountant, I knew that I would never be happy in those careers.  Retail makes me happy and is an industry that can combine my creative and analytical side through a fashion focus.

We all know, by heart, the Four Defining Principles here at Haas; but I really do believe they all resonate with the person that I have become.  I like to question the status quo here at Haas and be that “retail girl”. I like to be confident in my abilities, of course without attitude, while I study retail management.  I am always yearning to learn more about the industry that I’m going into, and the way I can give back is by teaching others, through my Retailing DeCal, how to be successful in retail.  And I am always going beyond myself by trying to make a name for myself as a leader in the retail industry, and that starts with my career at Bloomingdale’s.

How did you land your offer at Bloomingdale? What was the process like?

During my first semester at Haas, I went to the career fair and made a beeline for the Bloomingdale’s and Macy’s recruiting tables.  Bloomingdale’s did not have a management summer internship, so I decided to get industry and management experience through the Macy’s Store Management Internship Program.  I made sure to introduce myself and establish a relationship with the Bloomingdale’s recruiter so that I could keep updating him on my interest in pursuing a career with Bloomingdale’s.  In the end, I figured that if I loved working for Macy’s I could acquire a full time offer after the summer or I could use this experience as leverage if I ever decided to switch companies.

After my summer internship at Macy’s, I really fell in love with the company; however, I wanted a taste of management with a company that focused on designer fashion and haute couture.   Therefore, I reached out to the Bloomingdale’s recruiter and submitted my application for the Bloomingdale’s Executive Development Program.  Since I had been working for Macy’s, I had to be referred to the Bloomingdale’s EDP through my Macy’s College Recruiter and, from there, be given the opportunity to interview for this management program.  Needless to say, I had a very positive experience during the recruiting process because I earned myself a full-time offer with Bloomingdale’s.  The final round interview consisted of a one-on-one interview with the Store Manager, who is also the founder of the Bloomingdale’s flagship store, Alan Svensen along with an interview with the Bloomingdale’s head college recruiter and a final interview with a manager who is currently in the Executive Development Program, all at the Bloomingdale’s San Francisco store.  The experience in-itself was very rewarding.

Do you have any advice you would give other Haas and Cal students in general, who are also interested in working in retail versus traditional ABC industries?

Dare to be different.  Don’t look back at your experience at Haas and wish you could have gone into another field.  This time is about finding out what you want to do with the rest of your life.  Don’t feel as though you have to go into the ABCs just because everyone else is doing it.  You get one chance to go to Haas, and Cal for that matter, and it is such an amazing opportunity to go to one of the most prestigious undergraduate schools in the country, so make it count.

My favorite quote from Coco Chanel: “In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different.”

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