Randy Baran is a fifth year senior from Hammond, Indiana studying retail management with a certificate in entrepreneurship and innovation and a Spanish minor. Randy is very involved with the Purdue Retail Organization, ACT UP (an HIV/AIDS student advocacy organization), and the LGBTQ Center, through which he was able to travel to NYC, Berlin, and Paris.
His dedication to his organizations as well as he previous jobs is what put him on the radar of the world’s largest luxury brand group. Last summer, Randy traveled to New York to work as a human resources intern for Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy (LVMH), the group oversees brands including but not limited to Dior, Louis Vuitton, Céline, to Sephora, Hennessy, and Bvlgari. He was thrilled he was able to work with such an influential company that not only taught him a lot about the industry, but also welcomed him into the LVMH family. He is looking forward to returning full time in January after graduation.
Q: Where did you work/intern over the summer?
A: This summer I worked as an HR Development Intern for in New York City. LVMH is the world’s largest group of luxury brands, with 70 houses in business sectors ranging from fashion & leather goods, wines & spirits, perfumes & cosmetics, watches & jewelry, and selective retailing. Their brands span from Dior, Louis Vuitton, Céline, to Sephora, Hennessy, and Bvlgari.
Q:What attracted you to the company/position?
A: LVMH is highly respected in the retail industry and carries high esteem as the world leader of luxury, so it was always a dream of mine to work for them. But what drew me most to the company starting last year was the people, and how inspired I felt through meeting them. Last fall representatives from LVMH visited Purdue alongside managers from 4 of the brands: Fendi, Loro Piana, Fresh, and Sephora.
I was able to meet them all and make a positive first connection, which I kept up over the next several months. Everyone that I met was of the utmost level of professionalism, kindliness, and of course, fashion. I had such admiration for all of them, and made it my top goal to work in there somehow. I also felt like I identified strongly with the LVMH Group values of being creative & innovative, delivering excellence, and cultivating an entrepreneurial spirit. All of these are very important to me, and I could see myself thriving in a company with these values.
Q: What made you interested in the fashion industry?
A: I have always been inspired by fashion. I grew up on Old Navy and Target brand clothes, but like many, made my way into stores like H&M and Zara as I became fascinated with learning about and staying up to date on modern trends. What I grew to love most about fashion is that regardless of price point, it is a tool for creative expression. I’ve had many different styles over the years, and it keeps evolving. As I’ve matured, I believe so has my style. When I began thinking about a career where I would be inspired to come to work every day, fashion made sense for me. Also, the retail world is so incredibly complex and interesting. It’s ever-changing and innovating, and it’s a very exciting industry to be a part of right now.
Q: Can you tell me a little about what your overall experience was like working there and what your typical day was like?
A: I worked in the LVMH Tower in Midtown Manhattan, which serves as their regional headquarters for North America. I worked directly with LVMH’s Senior Director of Talent Development, Emma Ancelle, though I did support the rest of the HR team on various projects when they needed help.
My main job duties centered around talent development, employer branding & campus relations, and diversity & inclusion projects. I was very excited to work on all of these areas, and truly enjoyed coming to work each day. At first there was a lot of pressure being at the center of such a notable company and working on many high profile projects, but I felt very well supported, and my team helped me step into the role and take ownership of it.
I felt very welcomed my entire time with LVMH. I referred to the HR team as my family away from home. From the first day when my manager walked me around and personally introduced me to almost everyone in the company, to the last day when they threw a mini going away celebration for me, I always felt like I mattered and was appreciated, and I can’t thank them enough for that.
Q: Do you feel that your past internships/job experiences helped prepare you for this one? If so how?
A: Though my previous positions weren’t in luxury retail, I still gained many transferable skills that I put to use in my internship with LVMH. Working as a Student HR Manager for Purdue Dining & Catering is still the experience that pushed me the most to become the professional I am today.
Having to balance hiring, on-boarding, training, and scheduling of hundreds of students over the years forced me to grow up very quickly. I faced many challenges in the role that most 20 year olds haven’t had to deal with yet. But I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity, and it allowed me to work with so many wonderful people. Every obstacle only helped me grow and develop my teamwork, leadership, communication, and problem solving skills.
My internship with Young Entrepreneurs Across America also helped develop me greatly as a professional. In this internship I was the Branch Manager for an exterior painting company. Though I learned painting is not my strongest suit, it helped me learn the grit that goes into starting a business from the ground up, and the value of delivering a polished finished product and building relationships with clients.
Q: What did this job teach you about yourself?
A: This internship made me grow immensely both professionally and personally. It taught me I’m more capable than I ever thought I was. It truly did change my life and the path I was on, and exposed me to new opportunities I would have never had otherwise. It’s made me so excited to start my career and build a future.
Working on LVMH’s HR team put me in constant communication with senior-level professionals across the industry. This helped me to develop myself as a professional and learn to represent LVMH as best as possible, while still remaining authentic to myself.
Living in New York City for the first time itself made me grow a lot as a person as well. While I was excited for the opportunity it also pushed me far out of my comfort zone. I only knew a couple people going there, and so I constantly put myself out there to make connections. There were ups and downs, but I emerged at the end of the summer feeling like I had finally set down roots, and had become a much more independent, confident, and fearless person.
Q: What are your plans for post-graduation?
A: I recently accepted a position with Christian Dior in New York City! I’ll be moving back to New York in January and will be working in the LVMH Tower again, this time with Dior as a Human Resources Corporate Trainee. I couldn’t be more grateful or thrilled for this next step. I’m still elated from the news and ready to tackle what’s next!
Q: How do you feel that your education at Purdue helped you while working for this company?
A: My Retail Management degree definitely prepared me for working in the industry and understanding how it operates. The Retail Management program gives you an all-around view of the entire retail industry, and all the aspects that go into running a retail business.
From buying, to e-retailing, to textiles courses, they help you understand everyone’s role in a retail organization, which is crucial for understanding how all the pieces of the puzzle fit together. I also feel my courses in entrepreneurship helped me apply my creativity to a business setting, and learn how to think outside the box when it comes to creating and implementing business solutions.
Q: What career readiness tools has Purdue provided you with?
A: The CCO, career fairs, and academic advisers have all been instrumental in setting me up for a career post-graduation. I’m extremely fortunate to be at a school with a service like the CCO with so many career readiness tools available to set students up for success. As for career fairs, I used to avoid them, but I learned to embrace them. It’s astounding how many incredible companies from around the world come just to speak to us.
Pushing myself to go to career fairs not only opened up doors to professional opportunities, but helped me develop my confidence in speaking to employers. I’ve also been so fortunate to have met a few academic advisors who I felt like truly cared about my success, and were able to provide me the direction I needed to navigate many important decisions I had to make about my education and career.
Q: What career advice would you give to underclassmen?
A: So many things! But here are some I’ve learned through experience that have been very important lessons for me:
Always be open to new experiences and opportunities. You never know where new things may lead you.
Don’t discredit certain experiences because they’re not exactly related to what you want to do in your career. As long as they allow you to develop transferable skills (skills that can applied to other settings), it is still a valuable experience. After that you just have to know how to articulate the value of those skills to employers.
People hire PEOPLE. You’re more than just stats on a resume. Show them your hobbies, passions, and personality. Don’t let your role consume your identity. Be yourself, and someone will love it.
If you do get rejected, don’t let it take you over. One person’s opinion of you does not define you. Learn from it, move on, and you will find something better down the road.
Follow up, follow up, follow up. Effort is attractive to employers, and shows you care. Whether this is through sending handwritten thank you notes, staying in touch on LinkedIn, or being the first to follow up, being respectful and diligent in your follow ups will make you stand out.
It’s okay to not have everything figured out. One step at a time.