Wilson College Experience Makes Student’s Dream Job at Gap Inc. Reality
By Sarah Stone
Driven. That may be the best word to describe graduating senior Hannah Stoltz. By the time she entered high school, Stoltz had decided she wanted to work in the fashion industry. By the time she started her senior year at the Wilson College of Textiles, she’d already secured a position at her dream company, Gap Inc.
“Gap’s whole portfolio of brands has been with me through every stage of life, whether that was Old Navy back-to-school shopping, or the iconic Gap denim jeans, or working out in Athleta apparel, or going to Banana Republic and buying an outfit for your first job,” the fashion and textile management student says.
Next month, this North Carolina native will head to New York City to begin her role as an assistant merchandiser for Gap Women. In August, she’ll move to San Francisco for Gap Inc.’s Rotational Management Program (RMP). While attending what’s referred to as the “Harvard of retail,” she’ll receive training and earn experience in each facet of the retail industry and all of Gap’s brands.
She says the Wilson College of Textiles provided her with the knowledge, experience and connections to launch her career at one of the world’s most recognized brands, plus memories to hold on to for a lifetime.
For Stoltz, studying anywhere but the Wilson College of Textiles was out of the question. She planned to work in fashion, she loved NC State and she says she knew the Wilson College had an impressive program.
Eager to experience the college early, Stoltz attended the Summer Textile Exploration Program (STEP) the summer before her senior year of high school. Initially, she had dreams of studying fashion design, but by the end of the week, she had discovered the fashion and textile management program and knew it was the perfect fit for her.
“I saw that opportunity and I fell in love with it,” she remembers. “So when I got in, it was a no-brainer.”
From her first semester on campus, Stoltz found classes that engaged her as well as a mentor that inspired her. She tried to learn all she could from Associate Professor Delisia Matthews’ industry experience and research.
“She’s very inspiring. I remember sitting in her class and thinking, ‘Oh my gosh. What she did in the industry is something I could do one day,’” Stoltz, who chose a concentration in brand management and marketing, says. “She was always the person I could depend on and ask for advice or to look over resumes or projects.”
Ask Stoltz what she’ll miss the most about NC State and she’ll answer quickly and confidently: the people.
“Friends, faculty, everyone here is very supportive,” she says. “The connections you make are so valuable.”
She also cherishes both the community she’s built and the leadership skills she’s gained through her time with NC State Student Government. Stoltz represented the college’s interests as a senator and then as a member of the executive cabinet. She and her brother even ran for student body president and vice president together.
“That was something I never imagined doing,” she says. “Pushing myself to do all of these things that I never would’ve imagined doing before NC State has really built my confidence and has empowered me to be ready for life after college.”
Most of Stoltz’s favorite memories outside of the classroom also advanced her career.
She counts her participation in the National Retail Federation (NRF) Foundation’s Student Program as the most impactful experience of her college career. The Wilson College nominated Stoltz as a Rising Star Scholar and gave her a scholarship to participate in the three-day-long conference in New York City.
“I was able to meet so many different retail executives and have interviews with them one-on-one and go to company headquarters,” she says. “It was the most amazing experience.”
This time at the NRF also played a crucial role in Stoltz’s post-graduation plans. It’s where she connected with Gap Inc. executives and became inspired to apply for an internship position, which then led to a spot in its RMP.
The nine-month-long program introduces entry-level employees to each of the company’s departments before placing them in a full-time position. Ultimately, it aims to develop Gap’s next leaders.
“A lot of people who have gone through RMP are now senior executives with the company,” Stoltz says.
She’s eager to help the company move fashion forward — for everyone.
“The way the entire company values sustainability, gender equality and diversity, they’re doing amazing things. And I think that’s the biggest thing for me,” Stoltz says. “I want to make sure I have a purpose and make a difference in this world.”