RHTAcademy1RHTAcademy2  The Bay Region Retail, Hospitality, and Tourism (RHT) Initiative, housed at Skyline College, hosted a 4-Day Retail Management Leadership Academy at Skyline College, which took place from March 16th to 19th. Recruitment for this Retail Leadership Academy spanned across all San Mateo Community Colleges: Skyline College, College of San Mateo, and Canada College. Nine Skyline College students participated in this pilot academy, led by two trainers from Gap Inc. for Community Colleges. This training was made possible through an exciting partnership forged by Andrea Vizenor, Deputy Sector Navigator for Bay Region Community Colleges Retail, Hospitality and Tourism Programs and Gap Inc. for Community Colleges, which is a part of the White House initiative “Skills for America’s Future.”

The Gap Inc. for RHTAcademy4Community Colleges program prepares students for long-term success by helping them develop skills for entry-level management positions and general career advancement. Trainers included: Jonathan Searle, Flagship Human Resources Manager for Banana Republic in San Francisco and Allison Bower, General Manager for Athleta in Emeryville. Each day, students were taught two modules that not only consisted of retail and fashion related concepts but also integrated soft skills training that can be utilized in most career pathways. An overview of of the modules taught include: Effective Time Management, Communication Skills, Problem Solving, Conflict Resolution, Dress for Success and Job Search to Job Offer.

On Wednesday, March 18th, students had the opportunity to experience a behind the scenes tour of the Banana Republic Flagship Store located on Grant Avenue in downtown San Francisco. Students were able to participate in multiple departmental roles some of which include: human relations and management, merchandising inventory control, the visual and art department, shipping and receiving, and even the loss prevention operations. Students learned the many different ways GAP Inc. and Banana Republic are creating innovative shopping experiences for their guests through introducing concierge services, “buy online and pick up in store” option, and personal styling services.

On Thursday March 19th, seven different leaders from the GAP Inc brands participated in a Manager’s Networking Event and Question and Answer Panel. Students had the opportunity to ask about various career opportunities in Retail, gain advice on educational pathways, and learn more specifics about the skills and attributes necessary to be successful in leadership. Additionally, students had the opportunity to participate in a mock interview with a GAP brand Manager and receive skill-based feedback on their interview and resumes to better prepare them for future job opportunities. On the final day, an awards ceremony was held to congratulate students participating in this Retail Leadership Academy. By successfully completing this Retail Leadership Academy, students have the opportunity to participate in a paid internship experience at the Flagship Banana Republic store in SF for seven weeks beginning in mid-April.

This training experience is on one of many activities that will take place to explore the opportunity of building a Retail Management Certificate Program at Skyline College that is endorsed by leading employers such as GAP Inc.

The Bay Region RHT Initiative will also be hosting one-day Retail Leadership Workshops in the coming months that will build on the partnerships with leaders in the many exciting brands under Gap Inc. For students interested in participating in a future Retail Leadership Academy, please contact Andrea Vizenor at vizenora@smccd.edu.

Article by Nicole Ruggiero | Photos by Elizabeth Tablan