Behind the Seams with summer intern Stephanie Flint

Hi! I'm Stephanie, a senior at Butler University and the Human Resources intern in the Fort Wayne office. As long as I can remember, I have enjoyed collecting Vera Bradley, and I am extremely excited about this summer. Check back to follow what's happening behind the seams at Vera Bradley!

Friday, July 29, 2011

How I Landed My Dream Internship at Vera Bradley

It seems that everywhere I go these days, I find myself bragging about my fabulous summer internship at Vera Bradley. The question everyone seems to have, whether it’s my friends at Butler, my family or new acquaintances, is, “How did you get that job?” So, here are five helpful tips from Human Resources to help you land a wonderful internship or position at Vera Bradley, or anywhere really!

  • Research the internship program. Since you are reading my blog, you are already initiating this process! Our blogs (Inside Stitch and Behind the Seams) give some great information about the program. Research is such an important step, because not every internship program is made the same, so you need to know what kind of opportunities you will have. In the case of Vera Bradley, you are getting yourself into the best summer internship imaginable … but I’ll admit I’m slightly biased. My research also meant asking Libby (the 2010 Vera Bradley intern blogger) every question I could think of! (She was so sweet and helpful, of course!)

  • Research the company and the position. You want to be as knowledgeable going into the interview stage. By knowing what the job will entail, it will be much easier for you to apply your own skills and knowledge to that position. Also, it always looks good when you know what is happening in the industry, or what new products the company is introducing.

  • Dress for success. Make sure that you are comfortable yet professional, and keep in mind that it is always better to be dressier than casual. Also, remember that the better you feel about yourself, the better you will do in your interview! (I even dressed up for my phone interview with Vera Bradley).

  • Take the interview seriously. This also goes for how you act before and after the interview, from scheduling, to being prepared and bringing extra resumes, and following up with a “Thank You” email or note.

  • Be yourself! By being true to yourself, you will be doing a favor to both you and the company. They want to make sure that you will fit in with the company culture, and you should as well, because you don’t want to be somewhere that you won’t be happy in the long run.

By doing all of these things, who knows, you might be one of Vera Bradley’s next interns!

The 2011 Vera Bradley interns.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

College Life vs. Vera Bradley Life

No matter what I do, I can’t escape the thought that I only have three weeks left here at Vera Bradley, and then I go back to school. It is so bittersweet, because I love working here and living in Fort Wayne, but I am definitely looking forward to returning to Butler for my senior year and reuniting with my sorority sisters (shout out to the Alpha Phis!). As the time to transition grows nearer, I can’t help but draw some comparisons ...

  • At Vera Bradley, I'm at work every day by 8:30 am. At Butler, my earliest class is at 11 am. Factor in driving time and the time it takes to get ready for work compared to how long it takes to get ready for class (cute outfit vs. sweats), and I'm looking at 3 extra hours of sleep come fall.

  • At Vera Bradley, I have no homework, which is a beautiful thing. At Butler, I have lots of homework that I tend to work on until the wee hours of the morning, which is not a very beautiful thing (and negates the above bullet point).

  • At Vera Bradley, I am surrounded by beautiful bags, prints, and adorable office supplies all day every day. At Butler, I am surrounded by my own Vera Bradley collection (that has increased in size dramatically this summer), books, more books and not-so-cute office supplies.

  • At Vera Bradley, I love talking with my co-workers all day long, because they are tons of fun. At Butler, I love talking with my roommates all day long, because they are tons of fun. (I guess some things aren't so different!

  • At Vera Bradley, I love Fridays because they are nice enough to provide breakfast for us, and we never know what we are going to have, whether it's breakfast burritos, waffles or something as simple as granola bars. At Butler, the cook at my sorority house makes us breakfast every morning, but you have to wake up early enough to eat it (a rather difficult task for me - refer to the first bullet point).

I’m going to miss all of the little Vera Bradley special touches, like these Call Me Coral Napkins...

I could go on and on about the things I’ll miss about working here, but since I still have three weeks left, I am just going to spend my time enjoying every moment. And since free time is pretty hard to come by during the school year, I am going to do everything possible to appreciate my free nights and weekends … and all of the fun things that I get to do with that free time, like going to the Three Rivers Festival with my roommate, Kelley!

Downtown Fort Wayne during Three Rivers was so colorful!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Surfing the Web ... It's all in a day's work.

My main project for the summer is basically the dream of any soon-to-be job-seeking college student (like myself). I am working with Human Resources to research and develop a social media strategy for recruiting, observing what kind of cool new methods other companies are implementing. The best part of this job is that my research consists of looking at company websites, twitter accounts, LinkedIn profiles, facebook pages and YouTube accounts all day long. Lately, I’ve been too busy to keep up with my research, but now that our presentations are going to be here oh so soon (exactly two weeks from now) I have to make time so I can be fully prepared to explain what’s going on in the exciting world of recruitment.

Here is a little peek of what I’ve been working on …

twitter – Lots of companies are using their twitter feeds to publicize job openings in addition to sharing information about their culture or their employees, so I follow anyone and everyone from our main competitors to companies like Starbucks and Google. One thing I’ve learned: Recruiters love to tweet … all the time.

So many tweets, so little time ...

YouTube – Some companies are using YouTube to promote their company culture and the organization by posting videos of company events and employee profiles showcasing what they love about their jobs. (How cool is that?!)

Since I’m a marketing major, all of this research is showing me how many different ways social media can be used for one company. Also, I will begin looking for my first post-grad job rather soon, and I’m learning how to be as thorough as possible when preparing for an interview. Most people long for the time to invest in this kind of research, and I’m lucky enough to have it be my job!

I couldn’t end this post without a shameless plug for Vera’s company culture or our open jobs … so check out the official Vera Bradley blog, Inside Stitch, for some fabulous posts about life at Vera Bradley, and be sure to stop by our Careers page to see what openings we have at our home office and in our retail stores!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

My Back-to-School Wish List

Since my first day at Vera Bradley, I have been forming a mental Wish List with all the things I would like before I go back to Butler in the fall. Quite a few items have been added to this list in my frequent trips to our Signature store at Jefferson Pointe, and since the new items for Fall 2011 were released. Right now, however, it’s pretty solid. Care to take a peek?

  1. Umbrella in Happy Snails- I can't wait to walk around campus on rainy days with this cheery print, and splash in puddles with matching red rain boots (that I have yet to purchase).

  2. 2012 Agenda in Plum Petals– This will be my third Vera Bradley planner, and I can’t wait to start mapping out my schedule in it!

  3. Saddle Up in Twirly Birds Navy - I love crossbody bags, and this one is just big enough to carry my Agenda, water bottle and anything else with me as I’m running around campus. I chose Twirly Birds Navy so I can show off my Bulldog pride at every football and basketball game with my Vera Bradley!

  4. Under Cover Laptop Skin in Happy Snails– As if I don’t have enough Vera Bradley already, I obviously need to wrap my laptop in it. Hey, technology can be cute, too!

  5. Laptop Sleeve in Twirly Birds Navy – I have been hoping for one of these for months to match my main school bags, which are Happy Snails and Blue Rhapsody, respectfully.

  6. Zip ID Case in … – Each year I get a new ID case when I start school (it is my tradition), and this year I can’t decide which color I want. My instinct is Happy Snails, but part of me wants to branch out and get it in Safari Sunset. Oh the dilemma!

  7. Ribbon Board in Lemon Parfait – Almost everyone at Vera Bradley has a ribbon board at their desk, and I think that it would look great in Lemon Parfait in my room at school, or at my desk until my internship is over!

What is on your back-to-school Wish List? We would love to hear about what you’re taking to campus! (I might even have to borrow your ideas.)

Friday, July 15, 2011

A Potluck Dinner ... Intern Style

This week, our intern dinner was a huge success! We chose a Potluck theme and asked everyone to bring their favorite dish. We made it even more interesting by making it a competition (with the prize being a feature on Behind the Seams, of course). I wish we would have done this sooner, since it shaped up to be one of the best dinners I’ve had in awhile. Since we are, let’s face it, a bunch of college kids, we decided not to put the stipulation on the contest that it had to be homemade, hence the watermelon, or prepared by anyone specific, which led to a few entries by interns’ Moms.

The entries, including ice cream cake, meatball sandwiches and fettuccine alfredo.

My dish for the evening – a Make-Your-Own Macaroni and Cheese Bar – was actually inspired by one of my favorite bloggers, The Pioneer Woman. I’ll admit it … I used a box to make the Mac n’ Cheese and used different toppings than she did, but it was still delicious.

My Make-Your-Own Macaroni and Cheese Bar with tomatoes, green onions and extra cheese toppings.

The day after our get-together, I had all of the interns who attended vote on their favorite dish. And the winner was … Abby, the E-Commerce intern (who you might recognize from our Communities page)! She made some delicious Black Bean Salsa that changed my life (and everyone else’s, I’m sure), and she was kind enough to share the recipe, so you all can try some too!

Abby’s Black Bean Salsa

  • 1 red bell pepper, 1 yellow bell pepper, 1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced

  • 1/2 cup diced red onion

  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and minced

  • 1 teaspoon chopped cilantro

  • 1/4 cup olive oil

  • 4 tablespoons red wine vinegar

  • Juice of 1/2 lime

  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

  • 1 can corn, drained

  • Salt and pepper, to taste

  • Tortilla chips, to serve

  1. In a large bowl, combine the bell peppers, onion, corn, black beans, garlic and cilantro.

  2. Whisk olive oil, vinegar, lime juice, salt and pepper.

  3. Toss and serve with chips.

I’m already planning to make this fabulous dish for a family get-together we are having the weekend of my sister’s wedding! It is the perfect complement to a hot summer day, and it tastes great either with chips … or even without, so give it a try!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Happiness is Contagious at Vera Bradley

At Vera Bradley, there’s always something fun going on. This is, in large part, thanks to our Happy Committee, a group of people from across the different functional areas within the company who work together to plan activities that bring employees together. Since we span four different corporate buildings in Fort Wayne, the Happy Committee really does help add to our company culture, and exemplify several of our core values.

All of these events, several each month, are non-work related. A few weeks ago, we were surprised with ice cream sandwiches, followed by a drawing in each building for items from the new Fall collection. I have to admit, my favorite was definitely the ice cream. Not only were they my favorite ice cream sandwiches (Skinny Cow), but it also came right before Fourth of July weekend. Who doesn’t like to kick off a long weekend with a sweet treat?

Happy Committee member Amanda (pictured second from the left), with Human Resources’ Angela (pictured far left), Ryan and Jill.

Even though I did not attend the recent Happy Committee golf outing, four other interns did, and had a great time, despite winning the “Slowest Team” award. Held at the beginning of the summer, it was a great chance for them to meet more people. After they (finally) finished playing, the committee hosted a barbecue dinner with prizes, like Tote bags!

Michael, Kelley, Shelby and Taylor representing the interns at the golf outing.

Striking a pose.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Why I Love Being an Intern at Vera Bradley

Each week, the Vera Bradley interns have the opportunity to meet with and learn from representatives from the various areas of the company. While I’ve enjoyed all of the presentations, the last two have definitely been my favorites.

Last week, we had lunch with our Co-founders, Barbara Bradley Baekgaard and Patricia R. Miller, two of the most classy and driven ladies that I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. Even though we’ve all heard the Vera Bradley story countless times, we asked that they tell us their own account of it, since they were the ones building this company from the ground up. It’s clear they have been so successful because they are first and foremost friends. They began their company by hiring more friends and eventually ended up with this amazing company culture.

A few weeks ago we had my favorite presentation yet, at the Vera Bradley Store at Jefferson Pointe in Fort Wayne. I am a frequent visitor, so I loved having an excuse to be there during work hours. Not only was it interesting to hear about how they create the customer experience, but we also got to shop around when it was all done (talk about a great day at the office)!

All of the interns, the Assistant Store Manager Julie (pictured second from the right), and the Store Manager Debora (pictured far right).

Debora, explaining the visual merchandising aspects of the store.

We had the chance to ask questions, so I had her explain new product releases.

It was a great day at Jefferson Pointe for all of us (note the beautiful bags)!

As we were leaving, the Vera Bradley truck was arriving. I wonder what beautiful things are in there ...

Thinking back to all of the presentations we have had, I realize my summer at Vera Bradley is more than halfway over. We only have three weeks of these presentations left, and then we give our own presentations about our summer projects. The group we will be presenting to includes the entire Human Resources team, Barb and Pat, the Executive Team and all of the mentors. It’s going to be a full house! It feels so bittersweet to be thinking of going back to school already, because I’m definitely missing all of my friends at Butler, but I’m not ready to leave my internship yet. It’s been entirely too much fun!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Living in Fort Wayne and Loving Every Minute!

Since moving to Fort Wayne almost two months ago, I've been having a great time finding my way around the city. I've been enjoying the "Hoosier hospitality" you hear so much about, and venturing out with college friends from the area and other interns. We've crammed in quite a bit of the city in a very short time.

On one of my first weekends in Fort Wayne, there was an art exhibit opening at ArtLink Contemporary Art Gallery including a piece by my sorority sister, Haley. As a unique twist, everything on display was related to Sharpies! There were paintings of Sharpies, paintings created with Sharpies, and my personal favorite, shoes decorated using Sharpies (Haley's exhibit). It was so inspiring.

Haley and her shoes – what a work of art!

Going to TinCaps games has become almost a weekly tradition for my roommate, Kelley, and me. In fact, this week we have already been to one game, and we are planning another tonight! We love getting together with the other interns and spending evenings at Parkview Field, where we can just relax and enjoy the beautiful summer nights. It takes me back to my days as the varsity baseball stats keeper in high school. Only now, I can make trips to the concession stand whenever I want!

What a beautiful night for baseball!

The Vera Bradley interns, all hanging out at the TinCaps game!

This weekend is one of my first weekends here with no plans, and I can't wait to see what we end up doing. My to-do list includes visiting Yo-Yos (a frozen yogurt hotspot), DeBrands Chocolates and Cookie Cottage - all Fort Wayne originals, and all so delicious!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

An All-American Intern Dinner

Every week, my roommate Kelley and I host a dinner for all of the Vera Bradley interns. To make the evenings festive, we always designate a theme. So far we've covered Taco Night, Lasanga Night and, this last week, we celebrated the Fourth of July a few days early with a traditional American cookout (if it is still considered a cookout when everything is prepared on a George Foreman grill ... inside). Our spread was rather impressive, with baked beans, fruit, pesto burgers and more. Everyone pitches in with a covered dish, which makes for variety and phenomenal leftovers.

Michael, the Continuous Improvement intern, showing off his skills in the kitchen making macaroni and cheese.

Kelley and I - the hostesses!

There are 17 summer interns, and at one time, we had 15 people in our apartment. While the space is plenty for just Kelley and me, it can get a little tight with so many guests. This issue, and the fresh air, certainly make our deck the most desirable destination.

Michael, enjoying his hamburger and our comfortable Adirondack chairs.

 After dinner the group lingers until someone remembers we all have to get up early for work in the morning. The time just goes so quickly; watching YouTube videos (which leads to countless inside jokes), talking about our departments and playing games. Last week, we played Spoons (though we substituted corks for the spoons, for safety and convenience purposes). The game became pretty intense. I guess this batch of interns is competitive!

Everyone listening intently to the rules of Spoons.

The calm before an intense round.

This new tradition has turned into the perfect way for us to bond outside of work and get to know the interns that work in other buildings or departments. Next up ... Appetizer Night or Chinese. My stomach is growling just thinking about it!

Friday, July 1, 2011

It's all about the details ...

If you feel like your Vera Bradley Store is unique, that's because it really is! They still carry the same products, of course, but the wallpaper, furniture, and other details are all especially coordinated to match the personality and character of the region in which it is located. I was able to see this last week when I attended the Beachwood Place store opening in Cleveland. Our Visual Merchandising team put together, as always, an outstanding display!

One tradition is the presence of an Ira Yeager painting behind the checkout counter. It all started when Co-founder Barbara Bradley Baekgaard lent one of the paintings from her personal collection to the Fort Wayne store at Jefferson Pointe. Ever since, the paintings have been a staple for each location's decor, and they are each hand selected by Barb and Anne, the Senior Visual Merchandising Creative Director.

The Ira Yeager at Beachwood ... absolutely gorgeous!

Each Vera Bradley Store is also designed to look like someone's home, hence the comfy furniture, beautiful light fixtures and foyer. I found myself surprised by how effortless it all looked in person, especially knowing each store has it's own personality. The hope is that guests will walk in, feel comfortable and have a great experience.

This ottoman is my absolute favorite piece in the store, hands down.

This loveseat is perfect for husbands to relax on as their wives shop around ...

What a beautiful vanity, and I love the flowered wallpaper - such a nice touch!

The foyer, complete with red doors and a chandelier.

This stack of books and bunny lamp are in the middle of a display of Boysenberry bags, but they make it look just like it all belongs in someone's home!

The coffered ceiling, crown molding, and chandelier look amazing altogether ...

A hidden treasure that you can always find at Vera Bradley Stores is a beautiful restroom. I'm used to our impeccably decorated bathrooms in the Fort Wayne offices, but this was something I was pleasantly surprised by when I went to the Beachwood store, because I didn't expect it to be this cheery and adorable.

This lamp is just too cute for words ...