Undergraduate Blog / Career Development

Working as a team over email and in person

From the start of my internship at Moda Operandi, a luxury e-commerce retailer, I began communicating with the other members of the Trunk Show/Merchandising Department. Email, and more specifically gmail, is the most commonly used method of communication at Moda’s office. All of the 100 or so employees use email, but only about 15 of them have telephones at their desk. The only people who actually use the telephone in day-today communication is the HR and Customer Service department. I was stunned that so few people used phones in order to get in touch with people, and that at a company of this size so many employees didn’t have phones at their desks. Technology has evolved in such a way that calls are not as crucial in order to support operations, and through just a computer, an entire company can operate seamlessly. Some employees even use both their laptop and desktop computer simultaneously while completing work.

While working as an intern, my typical day consists of first signing into my email account in order to review all company-related news blasts. For example, I would receive weekly press coverage and production deployment, which explains what updates have been made to the website as well as any bug fixes that the IT team performed. These weekly emails are how each department relays the work they have done and informs the other teams of all new updates and changes that have taken place from the previous day. After reading and reviewing those new changes, I check the website in order to see if there are any errors with the latest trunk show that has been published to the site. These errors consist of wrong or missing product images, as well as any improper grammar or spelling in the description of the item. Every new Trunk Show, with clothing and accessories, is entered into the system the previous day and gets automatically launched to the site every morning at 7 AM. On the Trunk Show team there are 2 other interns who I work with, we all sit together and talk to one another as we check for errors. We then combine the list of what we find into an email and send that final email to the rest of the team. Although we are all checking the same information, it is easy to overlook an error and most of the time we each find different mistakes that need corrected.

Email continues to be important in another task that I complete, which is creating import sheets. These import sheets contain the information we receive from vendors that describe each item; the details must be filled out in excel and then transferred to the website.  My supervisor sends me an email of the Lookbook as a PDF with the linesheets  highlighted, indicating the information give to be entered on an import template. Although she explains the work that needs to be done through an email, the attachments can be very confusing. Most of the time these packets get sent to the company from the designers themselves with missing information. It is often hard to determine which currency, sizing, and delivery dates to use and at times the information given can be very complex and even written in other languages, such as Italian. Color information and fabric materials can also be missing data. In this case, we then have to communicate through email with the designers’ representatives, asking them to send over the missing information so that we can complete the import sheet. For these reasons, I typically stop by my supervisor’s desk to clarify everything I have to fill out before I begin as a way to avoid any potential mistakes ahead of time.

Email is the dominant tool of communication used at my internship and while it is extremely efficient and useful, I believe that verbal communication is just as important. The number one lesson I’ve learned about communicating throughout my internship this summer, is to never be afraid to ask questions. Even though there are times that I do not want to interrupt or disturb my at her desk, it is faster and easier to simply ask her my questions before starting work rather than sending emails back and forth. Speaking face to face and voicing my questions, not only answers any potential questions I have, but it also saves time both in the work that is done and in avoiding errors that may be found the next day. Clear communication within the team is seen in our work efficiency and accuracy.