Apparel and merchandising student gains leadership experience through summer internship

Born and raised in Denver, Colorado, Vee Martinez is a fourth-year apparel and merchandising student in Colorado State University’s Department of Design and Merchandising. This summer, Martinez got the opportunity to intern with Target as an Executive Team Leader where she has harnessed her leadership skills in the world of retail and merchandising. In this Q&A, learn about Martinez’s experience and growth during her internship. 

Vee Martinez grins in a black shirt.

Where are you from and what brought you to CSU?

I was born and raised in Denver, Colorado. I have learned so much about myself and others living in a bigger city. I grew up in a huge family as well, which helped me be very social. I didn’t picture myself attending a university because, at the time, it was not financially realistic, but I was paired up with two amazing people, Gabe and Alejandra. They are from the Denver Scholarship Foundation, and they helped me seek out resources to make my dream of attending Colorado State University come true.

Why did you choose to study apparel and merchandising?

Coming into college, I knew I didn’t want a major where I had to pick between math and art as they were two subjects I was passionate about. However, I knew I loved being creative, and I am good at math, so when I heard about the opportunity to major in apparel and merchandising, I was thrilled. Tapping into my creative and logistic side when carrying out a product line has made college even more thrilling.

What has been your favorite experience at CSU?

My favorite experience about CSU has been the ability to make connections with people from all over the world who are very different than me.

What has been your favorite part about your major?

Vee Martinez smiles in her red target uniform
Martinez spent her summer interning with Target as an executive team leader.

My favorite part about my major is being creative and getting to use mathematical reasoning behind my ideas.

How did you apply for your internship?

As an apparel and merchandising student, you are required to complete an internship prior to graduation. I knew I had to do an internship, but figuring out where I wanted to invest my time was the dilemma. I attended a career fair hosted by the Career Center at CSU, and Target interviewed me. I fell in love with Target’s mission, vision, and values, and I felt like the internship would help me grow in my leadership skills. After three rounds of interviews, I was given an offer and accepted it in March 2021.

What does an average day at your internship look like?

My main objective is to successfully oversee Target’s departments and ensure that every Team Leader promotes an excellent guest experience to drive a successful business.

How are you applying what you’ve learned from school to your current position?

I have applied many of the concepts from my classes, but listing a few:

  • I am applying leadership skills I learned from my management classes
  • I am applying my math/business skills to read financial statements and see what ways we can improve the business
  • I am applying my knowledge in forecasting to see what visual merchandising will work best

What is the biggest lesson that you will take home from this experience?

There is a difference between a manager and a leader. Anyone can tell someone else what to do, but it takes a true leader to motivate others to achieve a collective vision. As a leader, you have to continuously find ways to improve and evolve to run a successful business.

What’s next? What do you hope to accomplish in the coming school year and beyond?

I have many dreams and visions, but my main goal is to finish college and blaze a path for future Latina women in the fashion industry.

What advice do you have for incoming freshmen in your major?

  • Always ask yourself, “what’s the worst that can happen?” Usually, we are clouded by our fears which is why we can sometimes be our most prominent anchor.
  • Never take feedback personally. Feedback is there to help you become a better person today than you were yesterday.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions. I am sure someone else in the classroom has the same question!