Reflecting on my Virtual Intern Experience
By Olivia Drexler
Working From Home
For the past 17 months, my college routine at the University of Florida has consisted of online lectures, masks, and an empty campus. While we have made a lot of progress towards getting back to “normal”, many opportunities still require an online format. This past summer, I was fortunate enough to take part in a virtual intern position with Enhanced Retail Solutions (ERS). ERS provides POS and inventory solutions to retailers, manufacturers, distributors, and brands. As a student about to start a graduate program, I was very excited to put my classroom knowledge into practice and gain hands-on experience within retail and inventory management. Initially, I was worried that a virtual format would detract from the overall experience, but in reality, it gave me access to individuals and resources from around the country that would have been unreachable in a physical format.
My Day to Day
The majority of my time was spent meeting with CEO Jim Lewis. Through multiple virtual meetings each week, Jim walked me through a variety of POS and inventory forecasting reports. Additionally, I worked throughout the summer on a competitive shopping presentation for a client of ERS, Gerber Childrenswear. I had the opportunity to present my findings to Gerber’s CEO. This project was one of the most impactful parts of my internship experience as it allowed me to understand what factors determine a brand’s effectiveness in a given market and within specific retailers. Especially as businesses are still recovering from the COVID-19 lockdowns and are reopening physical storefronts, it was apparent how necessary and actionable competitive shopping reports are for businesses. Getting the opportunity to identify and develop actionable recommendations for a real company and connect with an individual who is in a position to implement changes was an invaluable experience.
As my internship comes to an end, the biggest take-aways are about the necessity of company’s like ERS. While there are other software companies available to assist businesses with sales and data collection, ERS incorporates a consulting aspect to optimize the gathering, integrating, validating and interpretation of POS data. With ERS, the burden of data collection and report building is shifted off a businesses’ in-house team allowing them to concentrate on higher level analytics and strategy rather than the grunt work of data collection. The transformation of data to actionable solutions can help to understand consumers’ shopping habits, improve inventory decision making and allocation, and more accurately forecast future sales and inventory needs. The level of expertise ERS provides is a huge asset to retail companies of all sizes, and I know that I’ll take strategies I learned here into future roles.
I am incredibly grateful for my experience and cannot thank the entire team at ERS enough for their help and support throughout the summer.