Gianna Rivera, a buyer with The TJX Companies, said her internship experiences at LIM College helped her not just with networking and relationship development, but also with determining her professional path. Indeed, her internship at TJX Cos., combined with advice from a trustworthy mentor, moved her career focus from luxury wholesale to off-price retail. Rivera talks about her career path, as well as the challenges, and lessons she’s experienced along the road.
WWD: How did your schooling and internship experiences influence your professional choices?
Gianna Rivera: Throughout my time at LIM College, I was able to create relationships in the fashion business and discover out what I was truly passionate about through internship possibilities. Within the fashion industry, there are numerous options. My original ambition was to work in wholesale as an account executive, but my final internship before senior year was in purchasing. That’s when I understood I wanted to do it, and it’s what brought me to TJX.
WWD: What were some of the obstacles you had to overcome during your career?G.R, I wouldn’t say I’ve faced many challenges in my job, but I would say I’ve had a lot of “learning chances.” When you start working for a big firm after college, you quickly find there are a lot of things you don’t learn until you’re on the job. Communication and persuasion abilities are critical. In those two areas, I’d say I’ve done a lot of trial and error. As you advance in your career, learning how to influence various types of business partners will help you become more successful.
WWD: Have you had any industry mentors? If so, how did they assist you?
G.R.: One of my LIM teachers, Marla Greene, was the one who encouraged me to pursue a career in off-price retailing. Professor Greene told me during my senior year of college, “The industry is changing, and you need to evolve with it.” I had always aspired to work for a luxury designer company in Manhattan. It was the best piece of advice I’d ever had.
WWD: What is the best career decision you’ve ever made?
G.R.: Taking the risk of doing my senior year internship in Massachusetts, a place I had never visited before. I didn’t know anyone there, but I went because I wanted to work in the off-price industry and had a passion for the business. It turned out to be the best decision I’d ever made. I’ve gone through the career path for the past six and a half years and am now a MarMaxx Buyer for 2,400 locations across the country.
WWD: What recommendations would you provide to someone thinking about working in the industry?
G.R.: Seize any chance that comes your way! You never know where you’ll end up or what road you’ll take. If you don’t enjoy it in the end, at least you tried it and know what you want to do with your career.