UC marketing intern enjoys a bite of the Big Apple

Macy’s asks for innovation; student grows outside of her comfort zone during summer co-op experience

Kaylen Rolsen is a budding fashionista.

She keeps an eye on what’s hot among her Generation Z peers. Crop tops, baggy pants and custom hoodies may be in but so are eco-friendly products that lead to sustainable fashions that leave less of a footprint on the environment.

The University of Cincinnati senior from Hudson, Ohio, is majoring in marketing with a minor in fashion studies and hopes to snag a job in merchandising after graduation. She wants to be in a major city, but her top choice is New York City, the Big Apple. It’s where she did an internship last summer with Macy’s as part of her cooperative education experience.

“I absolutely loved New York, it was a great experience,” says Rolsen. “Macy’s really focused on letting you get as many opportunities as possible to learn in every realm of the business while we were there.”

street scene of image of Macy's Herald Square department store in Manhattan New York City

Macy's Hearald Square Store located in Manhattan, New York City. Photo by Istock.

Rolsen shadowed a buyer in women’s sleepwear. She was part of a team of five who met daily and one of about 80 interns employed by Macy’s for the summer experience. She met regularly with company leaders and department heads from across Macy’s.

Rolsen admits a merchandising project with the supply chain section of the company was out of her comfort zone, but it also offered a chance to grow.

“It was with a group of cross-sectional interns, so I was working with every different internship level,” says Rolsen. “I made a lot of friends and there was a lot of classroom time. We would learn a different area of the business, and It was above a Macy’s store so it was a great spot of the city.”

Rolsen says her team was tasked with a supply chain project that focused on innovation in an eco-friendly way. Her team spoke with supply chain executives at Macy’s to understand product delivery and decided on developing a product delivery system that used bicycles to move merchandise in New York City. Their use of bikes would reduce the carbon imprint of truck traffic and also appeal to a younger audience.

There is such value in internships, for not just Macys, but for any company.

Ashley Roque Associate buyer for sleepwear at Macy’s

Kaylen Roslen smiles for the camera with backdrop of New York City. A bridge is overhead.

Kaylen Roslen is shown out on the town during her Macy's summer internship in New York City. Photo provided.

“Macy’s is looking to shore up that younger audience and we love our use of easy delivery systems such as DoorDash and Amazon Prime, so urging them to get into this area would be helpful and also eco-friendly,” says Rolsen.

Ashley Roque, associate buyer for Sleepwear at Macy’s, worked closely with Kaylen during her internship.

“I think there is such value in internships, for not just Macys, but for any company,” explains Roque. “You build a new network of individuals, of all walks of life that you can use at any point in your career. You also have the opportunity to get a sense for the job you are interning for and the overall company culture which gives you the best perspective as a college student trying to figure out next steps after graduation and assessing if it’s the right fit for you.

“As for Kaylen, she was a great addition to the team last summer,” explains Roque. “It was nice having someone around that has so much passion and willingness to learn about anything and everything. She was my right hand in truly helping me with any task during a very business time in our business. She became such an asset on the team in such a short period of time and would make a great buyer in the future.”

Rolsen says her experience at Macy’s convinced her that a career in merchandising is an area she wants to pursue after graduation. It marries her skill set developed in UC’s Carl H. Lindner College of Business and some of her practical work experience as well as interest in high school and college as a sales lead/stylist at Francesca’s, a women’s fashion outlet.

Women enjoying yoga on mats near the river in New York City

Kaylen Rolsen found time to enjoy life after work while experiencing her Macy's co-op in New York City. Yoga classes, food festivals and visits to Central Park were well worth her time. Photo provided.

Rolsen says Macy’s was her second co-op with the first occurring in her junior year with Marmon Holdings. She’s also been active in the college’s Lindner Women in Business program as well as the National Retail Foundation. Rolsen went to NRF’s student conference also held in New York City.

“Having data management and analysis skills from my marketing major mixed with my creative side in fashion prepared me well to go into merchandising, which I believe is what I will do when I graduate,” says Rolsen. “I think mixing those two is really great for my personality. 

“I wanted to do something more creative, but not having the experience of designing the actual clothes,” says Rolsen. “I don't have those textile skills, but it marries my strengths well.”

Rolsen says she would “absolutely” recommend a co-op experience at Macy’s. She also got a chance to visit the Macy’s operation responsible for producing balloons for the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. The smaller team’s organization and abilities were impressive.

“The energy and culture of Macy’s is very welcoming. I was able to learn so much and it put me on the path of merchandising. Macy’s and my team were so avid in helping me learn as much as possible, which really helped me decide that merchandising is where I want to start my career.

“Living in New York City is such an amazing experience and getting a chance to do it at such a young age is something I'm so grateful for,” says Rolsen.

After work there was ample time to explore the Big Apple. 

“Being in New York was amazing, I would do a lot of free events around the city,” says Rolsen. “What I really loved so much about New York is there is always so much going on. I would do things like yoga by the river and food festivals with my friends and explore every area like Chinatown, Brooklyn and Central Park. There was always some place to go.”

Housing and other expenses aren’t cheap in New York City, but Rolsen got a couple of scholarships that helped immensely. The Lindner College of Business Career Services Center awarded Rolsen one of 47 scholarships given to support students during their summer co-op opportunities in 2023.

Students were eligible to receive up to $2,000 through the Lindner Co-op Scholarship Fund to help offset relocation and living expenses, supply remote work technology and pay for professional development opportunities.

Rolsen also received a scholarship through the National Co-op Ambassador Program, which offered awards to any undergraduate or graduate student in any major able to secure a full-semester co-op or internship in one of 13 metropolitan areas. Awards are given on merit and cost-of-living for an area and range from $1,000 to $4,000 per semester. 

“The scholarship support was really helpful and made my co-op experience possible,” explains Rolsen.

New York, United States - November 28, 2013: The 87th annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade attracted hundreds of thousands of spectators.  Turkey with Pilgrim riders
image of Kaylen Rolsen center with Bella Gullia on the left and Keith Sun on the right. Gullia and Sun are administrators in the Lindner Career Services Team.

Kaylen Rolsen (center), BBA ’24, received support from the Lindner Career Services team, including Assistant Director Bella Gullia (left) and Director of Cooperative Education Keith Sun (right), to co-op for Macy's in New York City. Photo provided.

image of 80 interns at Macy's New York City headquarters

Macy's in New York City employed about 80 interns this past summer. Kaylen Rolsen, a UC senior, was among those for this group shot. Photo provided.

Beyond the Classroom

UC invented cooperative education more than 100 years ago, and we continue to innovate all aspects of experience-based learning, including internships, service learning, virtual co-ops, community projects and industry partnerships. Learn more.

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