As part of an on-going effort to position New York as the global leader in fashion, the NYCEDC and Parsons The New School for Design launched Fashion Campus, an annual program, now in its second year to provide students interning in New York for the summer with an overview of the business side of fashion.
The weekend-long program kicked off with a networking social and included a keynote from Chris Benz. The curriculum covered various topics such as planning, buying, retail and public relations by industry experts. Students also had the opportunity to connect with human resource departments and network with other students. Catherine Taich and Alexa Carlin were a part of the program and gave The Emerging Designer a recap of their experience.
Where do you go to school?
Catherine: I will be a senior at the University of Illinois and am double majoring in communication and history.
Alexa: I will be a senior at the University of Florida and majoring in business administration with minors in mass communications and entrepreneurship.
Where are you interning this summer?
Catherine: I am interning at Tommy Hilfiger in corporate communications.
Alexa: I am interning at Haute Hippie in their e-commerce and social media department.
What was your favorite part?
Catherine: Definitely hearing Tom Handley (@PRProfessor) speak was my favorite part. Oftentimes, people enter conferences thinking they are just going to hear what they already know, but I learned so much from that lecture that will forever help me towards bettering my career and myself as a communicator.
Alexa: My favorite part of the event was the networking breakfast where we were able to talk to people in different notable companies in a small group. I loved how we could ask them questions and it was a casual conversation versus a formal one.
The curriculum covered various parts of the fashion business. In each of these areas, what did you learn?
Catherine: To be Nice! Also, maintain relationships with everyone and always exceed the employers expectations as well as your own.
Alexa: To get in PR, I learned it’s all about relationships, relationships and more relationships! You have to build a relationship with each contact you have in order to get the brands you represent into magazines, on television or on celebrities.
Catherine: To never forget your math skills because they will come in handy someday.
Alexa: I learned that many brands (excluding designers) buy from private label. That buyers set up appointments with merchants and see the collection they are showing and they can either tweak it to make it their brand aesthetic or they can buy it how it is and just put their label into the clothing. I also learned that in order to be a buyer you have to be ahead of everyone else on the trends looking for the next best thing in fashion.
Catherine: Talking about the corporation that owns the company I intern at stood out to the recruiter because it showed that I paid attention to the “bigger picture” and was aware of more than just the specific place I work.
Alexa: Stand Out! I learned that you need to take every single task seriously including just running to Starbucks because in the end, the people that hire you will notice. Also, I gained a sense of comfort learning that it’s good to try out different internships so you have a well-rounded view on the industry. Since all of my internships have been in different departments, I’ve felt I’m all over the place and it doesn’t show the recruiter that I am really passionate about one department. Learning that they look deeper than that and into the skills you actually acquire from each job it definitely made me feel more confident. Also, ALWAYS do your homework before you begin a conversation.
What was something new you learned about the industry?
Catherine: There were definitely a lot of new names of people in the industry that I learned. I also learned that writing a pitch letter instead of a cover letter is the “new” way to go.
Alexa: Cover letters are outdated! In college they are still teaching you how to write a cover letter and emphasize how important it is and how those 3 paragraphs need to tell that person who you are completely. Every industry professional that I spoke to at the event said they are not needed and you should never send one when looking for a job again.
What was something inspiring you heard?
Catherine: It inspired me to know that dreams can become a reality if you work hard, be nice and maintain relationships. Also, Fashion Campus NYC inspired me to be more proactive with social media since this is a new route the industry is taking.
Alexa: “When you have a positive outlook you can change the world.” -Tom Handley, @PRProfessor
How will you use the advice you learned at Fashion Campus?
Catherine: I plan on implementing the advice I received for when I write hand-written letters because there is a “correct” way that I never paid attention to before. Just by the way you phrase a sentence can make a huge difference to the recruiter.
Alexa: When I begin to apply for jobs in the end of this year I will have a better take on how to approach recruiters, the correct way to send them my resume and how to prepare for an interview.
Do you know what you want area of fashion you would like to pursue?
Catherine: I would love to continue working in corporate communications, but would especially love the opportunity to work more closely with social media since that is such a relevant component of the fashion industry today.
Alexa: I want to work in fashion marketing. I love styling photo shoots, planning events and fashion shows and brainstorming creative ways to get the brand out to the public.
How would you describe your experience?
Catherine: My time at Fashion Campus NYC was wonderful and I’m very thankful the opportunity. I learned a lot of new knowledge that was both valuable and intriguing.
Alexa: My experience at fashion campus NYC was amazing. I loved meeting other interns working in the fashion industry as well as being able to ask my personal questions to industry insiders. You gain industry insider tips that will help you get your dream job in the fashion industry.
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