The aim of the office internship is being accustomed to working methods and environments related to our department, Interior Architecture and Environmental Design. As future interior architects, we ought to be knowledgeable about the furniture, decoration and construction sectors. We were expected to combine our academic knowledge with the real-life experience during our internship periods. In order to accomplish that, we chose companies that we can develop ourselves according to our future visions of our professional lives.
I chose a company which focuses on retailing home goods and also construction materials. The company has the departments of garden decoration to cooling systems, painting materials to wood and parquet flooring -and more- in its own structure. Thus, I was not only able to be a witness to decoration part of our occupation vision but also the construction part of it.
Since we have been taking courses on the subject of interior and environmental design for about two years of time, the aim was to develop our skills in those subjects. In addition to that, we could learn about the industry from the people who are insider of the sector.
After four weeks of experience, most importantly I developed my customer communication and marketing skills. Moreover, I have learned about materials and their usage in construction; designing and decorating the environments for different people with different desires. I had the chance of work with the interior architects and industrial designers on a shopping process. I heard the key parts of design industry from educated and experienced people. I gained insight about customer demand which will help me in my professional life.
All in all, during my internship period, I have turned my theoretical knowledge into action; add more accumulation of knowledge and had the chance of experiencing it.
Day 1: At the first day, I attend an orientation program to understand general operation of the market. I spent certain times at the departments of customer services, goods acceptance and product delivery. I started with customer services; I saw return process and witnessed to so many quarrels (unfortunately, customers had no patience). I learned about partial payment opportunities, transport and installation prices. Then I had the chance of working as a co-cashier for a short time, so I experienced that process as well. After lunch break I went to goods acceptance department and learned their working process, too. They both work on paperworks and transportation works. At the and of the day, I went to the product delivery department. Basically, they took the paper that cashier gives and prepare the list of the customer and load their goods to their cars.
Day 2: Today I started to work in my main department and that is decoration department which contains decoration, illumination, flooring and carpet. In decoration department, we have curtains, curtain fixtures, pillows, candles, paintings, any kind of trinkets, papier-mache wall decorations, stickers, adhesive foils and wallpapers. For the beginning, department head Gürkan took me a little “trip” around the aisles and gave me a quick workshop about the goods. I got a brief knowledge about the quality of the goods, their usages and prices then I took some notes about them to remember later on. I observed the marketing principles by going along with my workmates Lütfi and Seren during my shift.
Day 3: Today I worked in flooring department. It was a quite good experience for me, since I saw tons of different parquets and learned about their qualifications. So I worked with the department head Olcay, he talked about the different types of flooring materials, how to install; how to care about them afterwards and etc. Besides this technical informations, I also learned the principle of Koçtaş about flooring department services. The market has a whole package that consists of: mattress, baseboard, transport and installation. It costs +9 Turkish Liras per square meter in additional to the price of the parquet.
Day 4: Today, I was able to help the customers to decide on the pattern -according to their desires and budgets. My workmate Mustafa show me the calcutaion of the prices of the parquets. It requires a calculation because parquets are came to the market in packages and every package has like 1.2/1.6/2.5 (the numbers depend on the brand) square meters of product. However Koçtaş sets the prices by square meters, not by packages. So we asked customers the sizes of the area and according to their responses, we calculated how many packages they need to buy and how much it will cost to them.
Day 5: Today I worked in carpet deparment all by myself. I only call my workmate Hakan when the job requires a good muscle force -while selling big size carpets or need to cut wall to wall carpets. While working, I realize the relationshio between the texture of the carpet and the environment. For example nobody buys cotton carpets for the living room, they buy it for bathroom. Most of the time customers want to combine carpets with different sizes, patterns and textures within an environment. At those times things are getting funnier because I really enjoy this task. And when I tell them my university major, they abandon themselves to me.
Day 6: Today I worked in illumination department with my workmate Aykut -he was an high school intern student last year and now he is a permanent staff. He studiet electrical and electronics as high school student, so he was already accustomed to this area. He briefly showed me the products and I learned their features during sales. Customers come and explain their needs, Aykut show them different solutions. For instance: If they look for a light bulb for worktable, he show warm white bulbs which are maximum 40 watt -because warm white is a natural color and 40 watt is soft so that this kind of light will not hurt their eyes.
Day 7: Today was my second day in illumination department. I gradually started to take a part in sales. There are tons of different light bulbs and luminaires in here, so it requires too much effort to get to know about all of them. Luminaires are all about design principles: today a customer walked in and he said that he was designing a fish restaurant and needs some luminaires. I suggested him a white luminaire with curvy details but he insisted on a black cubic one. I though it will not speak to the environment it belongs to since it is black and too modern to a fish restaurant, but he resisted and I had to give him what he wants. The customer is always right!
Day 8: Today we install some new luminaires, refreshed stocks on the shelves and generally reorganized the whole department. All departments were preparing for the visitation of general manager. Towards the quitting time we had some free time, so company representatives Burak (from Philips) and Arif (from Osram) taught me more about the goods of their companies. It was very beneficial for me to learn further about not only the products but also the differences between the firms on similar products.
Day 9: Today I learn how to check stock and I printed out tag labels accordingly. There was a scanner device which they called “RF”. I scanned the barcodes of products on the shelves and I printed out tag labels. There is a program they use: you enter the barcode and tag labels are ready to print. It is a sweeping program but I only learned that part of it. I entered the barcodes and select the size and the amount of the labels then printed them. Cut them into pieces and placed to the shelves.
Day 10: Today interior architect Imge and industrial designer Rüzgar came back to the market (they were on a training program of Koçtaş in Istanbul) so I finally started to work with them. They work here as “stylist”. You can easily recognize them because their aprons are not orange but denim. Customers come and ask for help, styslists walk and choice goods with them all around the market. This is a new service idea of Koçtaş that is on testing period right now. There is because there are only two stylists for now. Hopefully the number will increase when the testing period ends and they decide to continue this new system. This is a good new because it means a job opportunity for us.
Day 11: Today we redesigned the display cabinet at the entry of the market. Aegean region visual design officer Cengizhan gave us (interior architect Imge and me) a moodboard. According to that moodboard, we designed a display unit. There were keywords, color schemes and scenes just like we had done in interior architecture studios. We looked at moodboards, chose the one with the keywords of “minimal, clean, simple”. We walked around the market and chose grey and white colored minimal products. We tried to keep our little environment as friendly and cozy as possible because we wanted to make customers feel like home. So that they would have tendency to buy items.
Day 12: Today we redesigned the columns of the decoration department. This time we had no moodboards, it was all up to us. Imge leave all the walls to me to see what can I achieve. I was a proud mother after my designs were done; it was my first real experience I have done all by myself in my field. Imge was very impressed by the results, so do the visual design officer Cengizhan. After lunch break, I helped my workmates in sales of decoration department.
Day 13: Today I was with our other stylist, Rüzgar. He is an industrial designer but he has a good background in interior design, as well. Together, we filled a customer’s shopping cart with goods which were priced at 18.000 Turkish Liras in total. The customer was designing his new villa’s garden. We talked a bit and tried to learn about their style so that we could find products accordingly. After chit-chat, we got started the shopping marathone. We chose different kinds of illumination solutions: apliques, lanterns, solar lights and so. We chose garden furnitures; sitting groups, tables and shield parasol. We also sold so many decorative products such as vases, frames, and trinkets. In conclusionİ that garden, it was all our design.
Day 14: Today we focused on ceiling ventilators with Imge. There were a range of ventilators; Imge told me their features so that I was able to chose right product for particular spaces. Size, amount and material of the wings make the difference. This department is kind of tough because there are three main things to consider in ventilator selection: appearance, function and of course, price. Sometimes the staff members have to look after this department -Imge and I cannot serve everyone because of the crowdedness- and they can only give technical informations. Today, for instance I had a customer. He was looking for a ventilator for her daughter’s room and could not decide between two options. He asked me the difference, I said “In terms of function, these two had no difference at all. However you should decide on the appearance: This one has much more contemporary style while this one is kind of traditional.” He repeated “contemporary… traditional…” and look satisfied “You know what you are saying, I’m really appreciated.” I told him my university major and he trusted me about the selection so I gave him the contempoary one for his teenager daugther.
Day 15: Today I continued on selling ceiling ventilators. This part is crucial because it gets the highest profit within the market. For a couple of times I sold more than 2.000 Turkish Liras worth of goods per customer. At the time I spent in this part, I learned further about installation. For instance, because the ventilator has a power engine, it cannot be installed to the plaster and wood ceilings. Sometimes customers say that they wanted to install the product to the prefabricated spaces. As far as I learned it can be possible if they make a plasterwork to the ceiling. And sometimes they ask whether they can switch the light not from the ventilator but from the light switch on the wall. I tell them it is possible if they can found a good electrician!
Day 16: Today I spent my working hour with our commercial sale representative Murat. He makes wholesale for mostly building companies. Basically; architects, interior architects or building contractors itself come to the store or make phone call to make deal. Murat use his authorization best and aims to protect existing customer profile and also gain more customers. He requests best price from purchasing department (at central office) for both make customer happy and make Koçtaş profitable. Murat surprised when he saw he fort he first time. He thought I was a highschool student but when I told him I was studying interior architecture, he smiled and said: “Good, one day we will be dealing on those parquet prices.”
Day 17: Again, I spent my time at commercial sale. Today we had a trouble; the goods that Murat had set for a customer accidentaly soled to another customer. The customer of Murat was about to arrive to the market in order to take delivery of the goods -but we had nothing to give him! We checked stocks of other markets in Izmir (Gaziemir, Karşıyaka and Bornova) and saw which market have which amount. Then we called them to confirm -we had no room for another mistake- and we could get the right amount from two markets. So Murat sent one staff member to the market at Bornova and the other to Gaziemir. They collected the goods from these markets and came back. Thankfully we were prepared the goods before the customer walks in.
Day 18: Today I was in dye department. There are two experts (Murat and Birkan) and two new staff members (Sercan and Burak) in this department. I love it here because you have a perfect chance to get one-to-one dialogue with the customer for idea exchange. I gave them suggestions for color selection, I showed our existing colors and the ones that requires special mixture. There are fantastic amount of colors that the color mixing machine can serves you. Using the machine was quite enjoyable. What you got to do is basically you ask the customer for base (antibacterial, satin, matte, shiny and etc.) and enter the data to the computer and place the white base paint. According to their color choice, you enter the code of the color as well and the machine drops the right amount of the dye. You take the box to the shaker and it shakes the box to get the paint done. The machines gives a sticker that writes the features of the mixture; and we put it to the box in case of the customer needs same paint later on.
Day 19: Today I went to the kitchen department. There is an interior architect that designs kitchen solutions for special demands. There are fitted kitchens, too. But of course, some customers requests unique designs for their homes. In that case, interior architect Duygu makes conversation with them: Customer decides on the material, color and etc. Then they give the sizes of the area. Duygu plans a few projects and show them the possibilities (she uses 3D design programs). If customer ratifies, Koçtaş send the request to the subcontractor firms to produce. This job is another opportunity for our occupation to consider.
Day 20: At the last day, I spent my whole time with my styslist workmates. We made sales and talked about the job opportunities in this sector. Imge and Rüzgar, they are both 23 year old newly graduates (but it is not their first job experiences). I really got used to this environment, because I feel like I am really good at customer relations and I love being in touch with the customer directly. I am going to do my construction site internship couple of weeks later but even from now, I realized, I would prefer a job like that over a job in a construction site.