My Summer with URBN
Hey friends! I’ve been getting more and more questions about my experience at URBN over the summer. I promised a blog post on this after the summer ended but I managed to push it off for... well... three months. Whoops.
For anyone that’s new to myself and Mixed Hues, I spent this past summer commuting into Philly 5 days a week for my internship with URBN Community. I wrote a blog post about what I think helped me land that position along with some general internship and career advice. If you’re looking for advice on the application, that blog post is your best bet. Both during and after the internship, I received a lot of questions about it, so I decided it was time to sit down and write a blog post.
Some notes/disclaimers before I tell y’all about my experience at URBN:
I worked for URBN, not Urban Outfitters. URBN is the parent company of Urban Outfitters, Free People, Anthropologie (which houses BHLDN and Terrain), and Vetri.
I am speaking from the experience of ONE person. Each internship position is different and thus every intern had a different experience.
I am not an expert on the program! I’m talking about what I experienced during my own time there, NOT any previous program iterations or future ones.
With that cleared up, let’s dive in!
THE INTERNSHIP PROGRAM AND MY POSITION
URBN has a summer internship program, which I actually didn’t realize until I arrived on campus for the start of my internship and received an itinerary of the various events I would be attending. As the URBN Community Intern, my job was to attend each and every one of these events, take photos, edit them, and write up a blog post. And yes, this was a paid internship.
Yall. There were SO MANY EVENTS. On top of the plethora of intern events, I also attended and covered numerous events for URBN employees. I covered every single event on the list of events you’re about to see and then some. It was insane. I may have drowned in them, but I would do it all over again. The events were INCREDIBLE and I learned so much.
Some highlights: (Note: Some of this may be inaccurate! I may be explaining these less than perfectly and some of the events may have changed)
Some of the recurring events
Coffee Chats, which occurred once a month to allow employees to come together and learn more about different initiatives, projects, etc. going on throughout the company
Brown Bags, which occurred every Friday at noon and allowed employees to take an hour out of the end of their week to wind down and create something or learn a new skill
The Hackathon, where URBN (shared services) employees spent a week coming up with great ideas for the company, building these ideas, and then presented them to the E-Board for consideration.
The URBN Summer Party, which was loads of fun and had plenty of delicious food and fun activities. This year’s theme was the outback.
Some intern specific events
The down low on social media and marketing at Urban Outfitters, complete with a bag of goodies that included an Instax camera, soy candle, Mario Badescu facial spray, and more (I was shocked, too)
Visits to the different brand stores in Philly (interns chose to head to either the Free People, Urban Outfitters, or Anthropologie store) where we learned about the history of the stores and even tried our hand at styling
A trip to Gap, Pennsylvania to visit the massive fulfillment and distribution center of all our brands. It was pretty cool, not gonna lie.
My personal favorite, chats with members of the executive team, including the Co-Presidents of Anthropologie, President of Free People, and Dick Hayne himself, aka the CEO (that’s not even all the execs we met, and they were seriously full of wisdom)
Plus looooads more!
WHAT I LEARNED
I like to think that I know myself pretty well, but being at URBN was my first time handling a serious job. I was commuting an hour into work and another hour plus back (traffic was a bitch) and working a full 40 hours or so each week, sometimes a tad more. I learned so much more about myself and how I deal with being in a true workplace. URBN gave me a chance to test myself, to learn, and to grow.
One of the biggest things I learned was that communication is SO important. I’m huge on this in my personal life, but learning to communicate with my boss when I was having trouble meeting a deadline and being able to ask for help was essential to my success.
One week in particular, I was behind on tying up some loose ends. There were a few articles I needed to publish and add photos to before the weekly newsletter went out, and I had planned to do so that morning. I had also scheduled a shoot with one of the interns to help her out with something that same morning. Timing was gonna be tight.
I cut things a little close and it caused some tension between myself and my boss. Afterward, I approached her, apologized, and let her know it wouldn’t happen again. I also let her know I would block out my Monday mornings to tie up loose ends in the future, and wouldn’t take any last minute meetings, etc. in order to avoid cutting it close. It helped a lot and I learned the importance of not only managing and prioritizing my time better, but also the importance of owning up to my mistakes, apologizing for them, and coming up with an action to improve.
Something else I learned is that I’m AWFUL at asking for help. I kinda knew this from my personal life, but it really came out to play when I was at URBN. Instead of just telling my supervisor that I was having trouble finishing things, I would just keep trying to crank it all out and feel anxious half the week (maybe the whole week) because I was worried I wouldn’t be able to get it all done.
Toward the end of the internship, things slowed down and I started asking my boss which articles to prioritize instead of aiming to get every single one written and published. It made for a much more manageable workload and a calmer me.
The most valuable lesson I learned is that the world will not end if you mess up. I’m aware that I’m a perfectionist, but I’ve come a long way since my high school days where my perfectionism seriously led me down a hole.
There was a week and a half where my boss left for a vacation, during which time, everything fell to shit. My car broke down the first day she wasn’t going to be there, and given that I live an hour from work, I couldn’t exactly hitch a ride or take a lyft. I emailed my coworker that I was reporting to while my supervisor was away only to discover that I had confused a due date and my coworker was actually waiting for me to send her something.
… Oops. I was able to send it from my laptop, as I had just about completed the document on Google Drive, but when I arrived on Monday, I discovered that the software I used publish articles was no longer working. Given that I was supposed to have published these articles on Friday to go out in the Monday newsletter, I was pretty worked up.
I tried using the software on my boss’ computer but it was lagging terribly and just NOT happening. I was incredibly anxious and felt awful for not having handled things on Thursday. I had to forgive myself, as it wasn’t my fault that my car broke down on Friday, nor was it my fault that the software wasn’t working, but I definitely learned the value of completing work early.
My inability to publish a number of articles meant that the weekly newsletter was sent out looking QUITE bare. It was missing lots of content that I was typically responsible for. But guess what- the world went on and nothing crazy and awful and terrible occurred as a result of it. Sometimes things happen and you just have to work with the hand you’re dealt.
One last bonus lesson from me before moving on: photographing dogs is seriously hard. I took photos of dogs for weekly #DogsofURBN features on our blog and let’s just say, they’re a lot cuter when you’re not trying to get them to smile at the camera.
WHAT I WOULD DO DIFFERENTLY?
If I could go back and do it all again, there’s a few things I’d do differently. Of course, having learned everything I mentioned previously, I’d take all of that into account and work on my communication skills, learn to take a deep breath and stop expecting perfection from myself, and definitely stop being so anxious when things went awry.
Otherwise, though, I’d make time to shadow people. One of things I regret the most was letting my daily tasks get away from me and failing to create any long term goals for my growth at URBN. I’m extremely interested in social media and I thought about reaching out the team to shadow them. Our internship coordinator suggested that all interns take the time to shadow a team, and I majorly regret not heeding her advice. Instead of taking charge of my schedule, I decided to wait until I felt less busy to reach out and set up a time, but I ended up letting things get away from me and failed to ever reach out. What a mistake!!! I missed out on a major learning opportunity into a field I’m incredibly interested in.
One last thing I’d do differently is make more of an effort to hang out with people after work. Since I was commuting an hour to work and then another hour (often more) back home, I usually went straight home after work. If I didn’t, I was setting up a shoot in Philly with someone. I wish I’d used some of that time to grab dinner with other interns so I could have gotten to know more of them better! If I were do it agian, I’d honestly try to find a cheap place to live in Philly, rather than commuting. Although admittedly, I saved so much money that way.
DO I RECOMMEND IT?
I had such a fantastic summer at URBN and I’m so privileged to have been able to intern there. I’m planning on applying again this summer, but to be honest, I’m starting to feel like I’m super tired of internships and I might just want to spend my summer travelling while working remotely for PYT (hopefully come summer I’m still working with them!) and improving my blog.
Even so, I absolutely recommend spending your summer there. Every intern has a different experience, and it seems that a lot of that experience depends on your supervisor and also your position, but I can’t say enough good things about my own supervisor and my time at URBN. The experience I gained, the friends I made, and time ability to explore Philly (even if only after work, since I wasn’t living in Philly) was incredible. URBN is such a beautiful place to work and I was constantly in awe of how good my life was. Plus, the food in 543 was surprisingly delicious.
Thanks so much for reaching, loves! This was definitely a long one. A lot of people ask me how my experience was, if I recommend it, and what advice I have so I hope this post helped answer all those questions and then some!
P.S. My advice is in my old blog post on URBN, not this one!