Spotlight – Christina Batka, Bloomingdale’s
Assistant Manager, Merchant Recruitment – Human Resources at Bloomingdale’s
Christina received B.S. in Communication from Cornell University in 2010 and graduated cum laude. She has been with Bloomingdale’s for 2.5 years and in her current role for one year.
What was your career path to get your current role? I first fell in love with retail while holding a sales associate position at a retailer throughout college. Upon graduating from Cornell in 2010 with a B.S. in Communication, I knew I wanted to pursue a position where I could combine my two passions: retail and working with people. I started at Bloomingdale’s in 2012 as a Human Resources Coordinator assisting both the college relations and employee communications team. In 2013, I was then promoted to Assistant Manager of Merchant Recruitment handling recruitment for entry-level merchant positions as well as recruitment for training programs and internship programs.
What was your first job? My first job was a sales associate position at J.Crew – I would work seasonally (winter and summer breaks) during college.
Why did you choose this career? Retail always excited me even at a young age – from customer service, the connection to product/merchandise, seeing how trends evolve and come back over the years, to hiring top talent to feed, grow, drive business.
What is the skill that is most important in your current role? People skills – Bloomingdale’s and the retail industry is all about the relationships you start, nurture, and maintain. It’s a surprisingly small world/small industry.
How did you develop this skill and how do you fine-tune it regularly? I think it is partly innate and partly self-assessing yourself and asking those questions such as, “What are my weaknesses/areas of opportunities, and how can I work on that.” It’s engrained in the Bloomingdale’s company culture to focus on the growth and development of our people. I also ask for feedback often – I’ll ask colleagues (from my manager to mentors), how could I have done x, y, or z better. I ask for multiple perspectives.
Did you have a mentor? Yes, and I still do! Several mentors! They help with my career development by providing me with honest, genuine feedback, advice, and words of wisdom. I like to think that sometimes there are reverse mentorship moments – where I can also help my mentor and provide different perspectives.
What is your biggest career accomplishment? It is hard to choose… I feel grateful and lucky to have found my second family at a workplace/company. I go to work every day not thinking it is work because I love what I do, I love my colleagues/the people here, and believe in the company and senior leadership. I will say, that it is very rewarding to see talent you have hired grown, develop, and get promoted within the company.
What is your advice to students looking for their first job? 1) Gain as much experience/exposure within the field that interests you most (internships/part time jobs) 2) network; utilize the career center and get in touch with alums; go to career fairs and gain as much knowledge as possible 3) be patient with yourself – the adjustment from campus to career can be difficult, have humility – your first job may not be your dream job but do not lose the fire to find what inspires you!
What is your advice to young professionals in the field who aspire to your current role? I knew I wanted to get into HR but had no HR background/experience – so I took HR classes so that on my resume, it is clear that I am interested in HR. You have to be able to tell a story from your past experiences and explain why you want x job/industry.
What was the best career advice you have ever received? No one can look out for your best interest as well as you can. Remember to have patience and confidence and drive in yourself.
What would you like colleagues to know about your organization? I truly believe our people are what make Bloomingdale’s like no other company. The company and its people are invested in growth and development (professionally and personally). It is an extremely team-oriented, collaborative environment. We take pride in the way we do business with integrity. We value the friendships and partnerships we have with colleagues and external vendors.