What a Career in Retail Might Look Like

Four Babson students sit in a theater full of conference attendees

Michelle Alcocer ’25 has had an interest in retail for a long time, from ever since she can remember. Back home in Mexico, her family runs Opticas Devlyn, which sells eyeglasses, prescription sunglasses, and hearing aids. 

“I’ve been exposed to it since I was born. I’ve always had a passion for retail,” Alcocer says. “I really like the connection and selling directly to consumers.” 

Alcocer was one of four Babson College students who traveled to New York City last month for the Student Program of the National Retail Federation (NRF) Foundation. In the hustle and bustle of Times Square, more than 1,100 students gathered for three days of mentoring, recruiting, and talks with retail leaders from a slew of companies, including Lululemon, PetSmart, and 7-Eleven. 

The retail conference proved to be a heady event for the Babson contingent, allowing them to look to the future and think about what a career in retail may look like for them. “The conference inspired me to be a leader in the retail industry,” Alcocer says. 

Seizing Networking Opportunities 

Besides Alcocer, the Babson students attending the conference included Danna Herevia Ayala ’26, Ian Richter ’24, and Sheikha Al-Otaibi ’25, whom Forbes recently spotlighted for her work with Interlix Staffing, a staffing agency she co-founded. 

retail conference
The retail conference offered students three days of mentoring, recruiting, and talks with retail leaders.

At the conference, retail experts spoke of marketing, technology, entrepreneurship, and diversity and inclusion. Ayala was grateful for the people she met. “The NRF provided me with access to the corporate retail world,” she says. “As a first-generation student, seizing networking opportunities often means going the extra mile, and this experience proved to be truly transformative for me.” 

For Ayala, the highlight of the conference was its mentor-mentee program. “In just a few hours,” she says, “I engaged with executive officers, recruiters, and other industry professionals, who shared invaluable insights into their journeys in the corporate world.” 

Bringing It Back 

This was actually the second year in a row that Alcocer and Al-Otaibi have attended the Student Program. Leading up to this year’s conference, they participated with Valeria Simons ’25 and Fiorella Sturla ’25 in the NRF Foundation’s University Challenge, which involved drawing up a product assortment and marketing campaign for Burlington Stores. The Babson students ended up making the competition’s semifinal round. 

The students’ experiences with NRF inspired them to start The Babson Retail Organization on campus. Launching this semester, it plans company visits and speaker events. The group recently visited Clarks, the shoe company where Jon Ram MBA’08 is CEO. 

“There used to be another organization for retail before COVID-19, but the club stopped being active,” says Alcocer, the group’s president. “We decided to bring it back.” 

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