Five Under Five: Aaliyah Smith ’18
Retail management & Marketing Management
Majoring in both retail and marketing taught me the importance of knowing your customer and creatively communicating a product offering. This concept has been the center of decision making in every role I've had and has contributed to my career success.
Our Five Under Five column features a Q&A with a Whitman School graduate of the last five years. In this issue, meet Aaliyah Smith ’18, who came to Syracuse University from her hometown of Macomb, Michigan, to major in retail management and marketing management. She now lives in Austin, Texas, and holds the role of senior associate, site merchandising at DashMart at DoorDash. As the sole site merchandiser for DashMart, Smith works to strategize and plan out the customer's store-page experience so they can quickly and easily purchase items. She previously held positions in site merchandising at Macy's and Bombas. Though the product may be different, Smith says her job is to curate a relevant, online experience so the customer will want to shop again.
How did you choose your majors at Whitman?
Someone suggested I take Retail 101 for my sophomore marketing elective. I loved the class instantly. The course helped me discover my passion for retail. It is not just understanding how a store works but also how supply chain, finance and analytics all play a part in getting a product to the customer. Going on the marketing exploration trip to New York City made me confident in also choosing marketing. Majoring in both retail and marketing taught me the importance of knowing your customer and creatively communicating a product offering. This concept has been the center of decision making in every role I've had and has contributed to my career success.
Are there experiences from Whitman that you especially draw from in your career?
I constantly think back to my capstone experience; how my group was a mix of people that I did not really know and the professor put together. However, we had to make it work and, funny enough, we placed first in our room. I realize now that experience was such a true depiction of what it means to work cross-functionally on a day-to-day basis. Every task is a group project where you must learn to work with others to succeed in your output.
Would you like to give a message to any of your Whitman professors?
I had MAR 357 Consumer Behavior with former Assistant Professor of Marketing Breagin Riley during my senior year. It was one of the most challenging, but fascinating, classes I took at Whitman. I really appreciated professor Riley’s creative approach to weaving in how social and environmental factors affect a consumer’s decision-making process. All of the concepts ring true to how consumers are multifaceted and communicating with them is not as simple as it seems.
Do you have any advice for incoming first-year students, or seniors?
I advise incoming first-year students to be a double or dual major and squeeze in a minor or take a few classes in the iSchool. I wish I had some additional experience in programs or tooling. In every job, there is a tool or system that needs to be learned. For seniors, I’d say to finish out strong and make the most of your relationships with the faculty and staff at Whitman. You never know how those relationships can help you in the future.
What do you do to de-stress or keep balance in your life?
Recently, I’ve gotten back into reading paperback books to decrease my daily screen time. I’m at the point in my career where I have realized that I can’t control everything and I’m not perfect. Work will continue to be on the table, so the balance comes when you know your worth and keep your boundaries. It took time to learn, but it’s true.