From Yellow Jacket Connections to Summer Internships

Jul 23, 2018


students and internship supervisorsRandolph-Macon College is proud of its alumni network: professionals who support current students as they plan for graduate school and careers. This summer, Bridget Maas '20 and Korey Turner '20 are reaping the benefits of R-MC's alumni network firsthand.

Maas and Turner are interning at Richline Group, the largest manufacturer, marketer and distributor of jewelry and related precious metals products in the United States. Based in New York City, Richline produces parts, supplies, and finished fine jewelry products for retailers.

Dave Meleski '81, president and CEO of Richline Group, worked with Cathy Rollman, director of professional development for The EDGE, R-MC's four-year career preparation program, to arrange the internships. Meleski has for years given back to his alma mater by hosting R-MC interns at Richline.

Bridget Maas '20
Bridget-Maas-1Maas, an economics and Spanish major, is interning under the guidance of Amanda Lada, senior merchandiser for Richline's Pearl Division. One of the skills Maas is learning is how to price jewelry. To do so, she considers the cost for a piece of jewelry that the factory sends to Richline—after which she creates a spreadsheet that includes shipping and duty costs, Richline's margin, and an estimate of the retailer's margin.

Maas also assists Lada by communicating with retailers about production; working with product development to check samples; and coordinating with the sales team to ensure that jewelry reaches retailers on time.

Exploring Her Creative Side
Richline's merchandising department is also responsible for designing new collections, and Maas recently had the opportunity to help design a bridal collection for a major retailer. It was an exciting experience.

"I coordinated with our Hong Kong office to have renderings of my designs made," explains Maas. "It's amazing to have an idea, communicate it to someone, and see an illustration of what a piece of jewelry will look like." The culminating experience of her internship is to design a 15-piece collection, which Maas will present to the Pearl Division. "I'm learning so much, and I enjoy exploring my creative side. It's been especially fascinating to learn how pearls are grown and cultivated prior to their use in jewelry."

Gaining Confidence
Mentorship is crucial to an intern's success, and Lada meets regularly with Maas to make sure she's on track. Lada's feedback was essential, for example, when Maas was designing the bridal collection.

"Amanda helped me decide which designs were the strongest and what needed to be tweaked," says Maas. "I know I can always go to Amanda if I have questions or get stuck on a project. She always asks, 'How confident are you?' when I turn in a project, and she works with me to make sure that I am making the most of my internship experience."

Lada says, "It's been a pleasure mentoring Bridget. She is forward-thinking, intuitive and ambitious—not to mention funny. She gives me a fresh perspective, and I teach her the important stuff, including email etiquette. I'm thankful for all her help and wish her much success going into her junior year at R-MC."

"I have developed and strengthened my professional skills—skills that I can apply to any future job," says Maas, a recipient of R-MC's Trustee's Scholarship and a member of the Franklin Debating Society. "Living in New York City lets me experience what life will be like working full-time and living in a major metropolitan area."

Korey Turner '20
Korey TurnerTurner, a business and economics major and accounting minor, is a sales and analyst intern at Richline. Working under the mentorship of Maria Cutaia, senior vice president of sales, he also works alongside Amena Nazir, a planning and forecasting analyst. Turner creates price quotes and sales forecasts, updates forecast models, and assists with product research.

Cutaia says, "Korey has been working hard to understand our business needs, and the tools needed for good decision-making. He has helped me in forward inventory planning, as well as reporting for presentations for top clients. I know he will go on to have many great achievements and make us proud."

Getting The EDGE
"Cathy Rollman has been helping me since my sophomore year with résumés, cover letters and interview preparations," says Turner, a Dean's Award and M.H. Bloodworth Scholarship recipient. "She does a fantastic job of connecting alumni with current students. When Dave Meleski came to campus several months ago to interview students for internships at Richline, I was ready. Thanks to Cathy, I was prepared for the interview and was offered an opportunity to learn and grow at Richline."

Living, Working, Learning
"Amena and I work together to break down the financial component of Richline Group and provide important feedback for Maria, so that she can determine the next move we need to make in the sales department," says Turner, who plans a career in investment management/banking. "I am learning business skills as well as the importance of communication and detail. One little miscommunication can affect not only you, but the people receiving your work."

Living in a bustling city is a new experience for Turner.

"I have seen and done so many different things since I have been here: I have tried foods, visited museums, and taken the subway," he says. "I have networked with students from Princeton, Harvard, Michigan, Florida, NYU—students who are interning at IBM, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and JP Morgan."

Navigating his way around the city was a challenge at first for Turner, who takes the Metro to 42nd street and then enjoys a five-minute walk through Times Square before arriving at Richline.

"In my first two weeks, I got lost numerous times, but I learned from the experience," he says. "One of my goals is to see and experience as much as possible. So far, I have visited the 9/11 memorial, Battery Park and the Statue of Liberty, the Museum of Modern Art, and Wall Street."

Great Connections
Turner, a member of the R-MC basketball team, says, "Working with Mr. Meleski makes me feel comfortable because we have a great connection in Randolph-Macon. We connect not only as Yellow Jackets, but as basketball players. He was a great scorer and is number 10 in the Yellow Jacket record books with 121 steals. I hope to join him in the record books one day. He loves R-MC and shows it by giving back to current students. I am thankful to be one of those students."

Dave Meleski '81
Meleski, who majored in mathematics at R-MC, has facilitated internships for R-MC students for the past several years.
A member of R-MC's Board of Trustees, Meleski says that internships give students "life experience" as they prepare for the future.

"Korey and Bridget are seeing how an office environment operates in New York City," he says. "They are also learning how to navigate the logistics of living in a big city. I encourage them to explore outside of the office as well as inside of the office. I think this well-rounded experience is what makes R-MC's internship program special."