RMC Interns Experience Summer in New York at Richline Group

News Story categories: Internships
Sarah Wilsey ‘24 and Jenna Shaughnessy ‘24 pose with Dave Meleski ‘81 at the Richline Group offices

This summer, Jenna Shaughnessy ’24 and Sarah Wilsey ’24 were the latest in a decade-long line of Randolph-Macon students to complete internships at Richline Group. A manufacturer and marketer of jewelry and precious metals, Richline gave them an opportunity to get hands-on experience with a worldwide, vertically integrated company while working in New York City.

Both students worked within Richline’s jewelry division: Wilsey, a math and computer science double major with a cybersecurity minor, focused on merchandising, while Shaughnessy, a business management major with minors in communication studies and accounting, worked with the sales team on an account with Macy’s.

Dave Meleski ’81, president and CEO of Richline Group and a member of RMC’s Board of Trustees, works with his alma mater to offer the internships as an opportunity for students to get a well-rounded summer experience. Both Shaughnessy and Wilsey worked with the Edge Career Center to apply and interview for the positions, and ultimately get set up in New York.

“The goal of the internship is a little bit more broad, like what you would get in a liberal arts education,” Meleski explained. “It’s not just about doing one thing in the office all summer and never bringing your head up to learn.”

On the merchandising team, Wilsey was responsible for pulling inspiration from fashion trends and predicted trends, and matching that with Richline products. While she did the sort of data analysis she’s used to in her computer science and math classes, she was also given the opportunity to try her hand at drawing designs and picking out products she liked.

Wilsey rotated through different departments, first gaining experience with the gemstone and pearl team, then bridal, and finally metals. While a three-month internship isn’t typically long enough to see any one project to completion, Wilsey was able to see each of the different phases of the operation across the various teams.

“I’ve learned not only how to connect the runway to the mass market, but also high fashion,” Wilsey reflected. “It was really interesting to learn the process of going from manufacturers and shippers to the cost team and marketing team, and getting to work with all of those.”

Shaughnessy and the sales team worked with clients to lay out current and future products, and analyze which ones are high performers. The summer has given her experience in managing databases and knowledge of the jewelry industry, but it’s also boosted her soft skills of working on a team and managing customer needs.

“I think in positions like these, you really learn and grow in your craft,” Shaughnessy said. “It’s going to give me more skills that I might use in a different job.”

For Meleski, who earned a mathematics degree from RMC, the key part of the internship is pairing the experience in the Richline offices with having to be independent in New York City.

“How do you find and get a place to live in a big city? How do you live and work in a big city? How do you find your way to work? How do you find what you’re going to eat?” Meleski said, listing the fundamental questions the experience asks of the interns. “I also encourage them, in their spare time, to get out and go do excursions, do New York things.”

Outside of the office, Wilsey–a member of RMC’s softball team–has been to both Yankees and Mets games, while also enjoying the city’s observatories and making a trek to the building from the TV show “Friends.” Shaughnessy, also a student athlete on RMC’s women’s lacrosse team, stayed in her hometown in Westchester County in New York, but has mastered the art of commuting by train from the north.

“It’s definitely forced me to be a lot more independent and a lot more decisive,” Wilsey said.

“At the end of the summer, I have a much more mature young adult than the person that came in at the beginning of the year,” Meleski said. “And that’s my goal in these internships. It’s a life experience as well as a work experience.”