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My Summer Internship with Victoria’s Secret

Ever since my first home economics class in the seventh grade, I knew I would eventually pursue a career in the fast-paced and ever-glamorous fashion industry. Fast forward 8 years to my first day as a merchandising intern at one of the world’s largest and most well known specialty retailers; Victoria’s Secret. Dressed in a brightly colored pencil skirt, a simple silk blouse, and a brand new pair of gold wedges, I stepped bravely into the job of my dreams.

Anxiety, fear, intimidation, and excitement gripped my entire body as I pretended not to notice all of the gorgeous twenty-something year old women dressed to the nines rushing around the office.

My first week at VS was a blur of long days, big words, tons of meetings, and a never-ending pile of swimsuits; however, I quickly learned and took on the role as the Assistant Merchant for the Victoria’s Secret Stores Swim Team.

Soon enough, I was assisting my merchant team in sorting through hundreds of design ideas and assorting swimwear styles that wouldn’t even see a Victoria’s Secret store for another 4-6 months. My job was the perfect combination of fashion and business and I was loving every minute of it.

In July, about halfway through my internship, I received exciting news that I would be flying to New York City via the private company plane to visit the Victoria’s Secret New York offices. For an intern, undoubtedly the lowest position on the corporate totem pole; this was a big deal.

The morning of the trip, I arrived at the hanger before the sun rose in preparation for a 6:30 a.m. departure. For the rest of the passengers on the plane, this was just another business trip but, for myself and the eleven other merchandising interns, this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. My excitement and anticipation reached a whole new level when, five minutes before take-off, Lori Greeley, CEO of Victoria’s Secret Stores boarded the plane and sat just a few rows in front of me. I couldn’t believe it. Here I was, a young fashion student from Appalachian State University, sitting mere footsteps away from one of the most important women in the lingerie business. To say I was intimidated would be an understatement; however, later in the summer I would have the opportunity to have dinner with Ms. Greeley at a beautiful country club in New Albany, OH. Throughout dinner, I found her to be one of the most down-to-earth, personable, and inspiring women I had ever met, making me feel simply ridiculous for ever feeling intimidated by her.

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Once in the city, we were taken on a whirlwind tour of the Victoria’s Secret NYC office, located just outside of Time’s Square. We met with all of our cross-functional teams within the company, including color and print, design, concepts, prototype, and product development. After the formal part of the trip ended, we were set loose in the city exploring competitors and aspirational brands in preparation for our rapidly approaching final project on White Space Opportunities for Victoria’s Secret. Before I knew it, our two days in New York were over and we were headed back to Columbus to compile all of our findings. While the trip was way too short, it was one of the most exciting and exhilarating experiences I have ever had and gave me a real “non-tourist” glimpse of The City that Never Sleeps.

The last couple of weeks of my internship flew by almost as quickly as the summer started leaving me with a lot of bittersweet goodbyes as it became time to head back to ASU for my senior year. My 13 weeks with Victoria’s Secret were, without a doubt, the most rewarding of my entire life. My internship was not only a major resume booster but truly helped me discover my passion in the fashion industry and taught me quite a bit about myself along the way. As I left Columbus behind, I felt beyond grateful for the amazing people and company I was privileged enough to work with and everything I learned throughout my summer at Victoria’s Secret. Below are some tips for starting your next internship or, if you’re a senior like me, a big-girl job:

Things I Wish I Knew Then:
• When they say fashion is fast-paced, they are not kidding.
• Meet with people in different positions across the company you are interning with…you may find your passion in an unexpected area.
• Sometimes, working late is worth it. A little extra effort does NOT go unnoticed.
• Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
• Be Yourself! The leaders at VS loved that I was from a small southern school and had big dreams of pursuing a career in fashion.
 

Brittany Fielding is a senior studying Apparel Design and Merchandising at Appalachian State University. She loves to write, shop, exercise, watch sports, and spend time with her friends and family. Originally from Cleveland, OH, Brittany plans on moving back to a big city after graduation to pursue a career in fashion buying/merchandising. 
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