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Coffee Talk
Business Observer Friday, Jan. 18, 2019 7 months ago

Retailer, college form valuable partnership

Chico’s FAS and Florida Gulf Coast University join forces to address common issues.

Some of the clothes made and sold by Chico’s FAS are geared toward an older clientele — at least older than traditional millennials.

But that doesn’t mean the Fort Myers-based retailer, with $2.28 billion in sales, overlooks the younger sect. To the contrary. The company, through a partnership with Florida Gulf Coast University, recently worked on a bevy of projects with some 50 students, from blogs to software to recruiting. This comes on top of Chico’s hiring some 100 Eagles alumni over the past three years, says Chico’s Senior Director of Recruiting Kristy Knupp.

The latest project, held in the 2018 fall semester, was with two separate FGCU classes and Chico’s departments. In one area, 25 FGCU seniors from a public relations class, Campaigns & Capstones, partnered with the Chico’s Recruiting team. In the other, 25 computer systems program students worked with the Chico’s technology team.

On the PR side, students were tasked to help the company enhance and improve its processes for attracting and retaining young professionals in Southwest Florida. That resulted in new social media campaigns that did a better job connecting the potential hire to the brand, says Knupp, in addition to hashtag campaign recommendations and some website redesign.

With technology, FGCU students, among other projects, partnered with White House Black Market’s marketing team to research ways to maximize functionality, shopability and customer engagement on the brand’s blog. That included work with Google Analytics, user experience data and working on multiple devices.  

From their professionalism to skills, consider Knupp won over by the students. “You hear all this about millennials not having a work ethic, or not having good ideas,” Knupp tells Coffee Talk. (But) I was really impressed. I would hire every one of them if I could.”


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