NRF Foundation scholarship participants on why it was worth it to apply

The five finalists in the 2022 NRF Foundation Next Generation Scholarship on what they got out of the experience
By Lottie Watts

The NRF Foundation Next Generation Scholarship is the highest honor the NRF Foundation awards to undergraduate students – and as the participants will tell you, earning this recognition takes months of effort and determination.

And it’s completely worth it.

Ahead of the announcement at the NRF Foundation Honors on April 13 of the top recipient in the 2022 NRF Foundation Next Generation Scholarship, the five finalists share an inside look at their experience, which included creating a personal brand video, completing a rigorous retail case study and interviewing with industry executives.

Here are a few takeaways from the undergraduates (who have each earned a $10,000 tuition scholarship for making it to the final round of the competition):

Sarah May of Indiana University on where to draw inspiration:

It was definitely a lot at first that I had to take in and think about very strategically. Keep yourself up to date. Really research the amazing things that are going on in the retail industry and be creative.

Sabrina Leibowitz of Drexel University on applying what you’ve learned in your classes:

It is so much more than just another school assignment or going through an interview process for a position. It's really an opportunity to circle back on everything that you've learned and showcase your technique and skills.

Brooke Williams of Ohio State University on who to go to for support:   

I am a very shy person. I didn't think I would be able to do a good brand video. I didn't even know how to approach it, but I reached out to someone, who had competed previously in the scholarship and she really helped me think it through.

Robert Davison Long of Columbia College Chicago on how to embrace the challenges:

Retail has a lot of ups and downs, as the pandemic has shown us. Make sure you're really willing to plant yourself in retail and make sure that you give to retail just as much as you're going to get from retail as well.

Marcel Smith of LIM College on knowing that this is extra – and why that’s the special part:

There were several moments throughout the process where I thought to myself, "God, I don't have to do this. I'm not getting a grade. This is not part of my curriculum. I'm still going to graduate. This is completely extra work.” But I love it and I want to do it and I want to be here.

Will you be among the students who get incredible experience from NRF Foundation scholarship competitions to earn valuable scholarship awards and sharpen your skills as you prepare to go to work? Learn more about the opportunities and join the NRF Foundation for scholarship informational calls for answers to your questions (see the schedule and sign up here).

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