"A Riverside Chat:" Here's What You Missed

On Wednesday November 8th, The Event Planning Class and Marist College’s Center for Career Services hosted “A Riverside Chat.” This event featured a panel of alumni from top fashion brands that came together to discuss their careers, experiences, and transitions into the industry. The chat featured alumni that work at brands such as Tory Burch, Gap Inc., Ralph Lauren, Butter, Ann Inc., and Rent The Runway. Not only did these successful ladies share their stories, but they gave advice to over 100 Marist fashion students on how they can create their own story from interviews, internships and more. Here’s what you missed and what you have to do to land your dream job in the industry!

The chat started off by asking the alumni what their daily responsibilities involved. Many of the women were involved with the merchandising departments of their companies. Lauren Dinsmore (Class of 2010), Assistant Merchant at Tory Burch, said that with merchandising you are involved with the birthing of a product. You start by selling it to a sales team and continue to follow it in stores to see if it is being sold properly. Kimberly Kaller (Class of 2014), Associate Merchandiser for Women’s Sweaters at Ralph Lauren, agreed that you really see a product from start to finish. You have to take the design merchants’ concepts and make it happen, whether it is with fabric/department testing or if it is being shipped/delivered on time. They also discussed how merchandising is not only creative, but also very analytical. It requires a lot of trend research to see what is in market, what worked in the past and what the client will respond to. When putting your product on the market, you have to have a strategic position to know how people are shopping and if the product going out meets those strategies. Samantha Frederick who is the Operations Manager at Butter, said that she works with a smaller team so her daily tasks constantly change because she wears many different hats ranging from operation production to sales. Jessica Monello, Human Resources Manager at Ralph Lauren, said that with HR no day is ever the same and that you really get a look at the employee lifecycle.

The next topic that was discussed was internships. We hear about them all the time as college students and the panel was here to tell us what they learned and if they took what they learned into the job that they have now. The women could not stress enough the importance of internships. Not only do internships give you experience, but they also help you decide what you want to do and what you like and don't like. Many of the women said that what they majored in in college is not what they continued with after realizing from their internship experiences that it wasn't for them. They encouraged students to intern as much as possible and to diversify their internships. Try to get experience in different fields, different departments, and different sized companies. They said that these experiences that they have had have not only helped them figure out the path they want to take, but also gave them the opportunity to work for a team with an “all hands on deck” mentality, which they found useful when starting their real job.

We know internships are important, but they are also super competitive. Don’t worry, the alumni were here to help and tell us what they look for in interns and how to stand out in your interview. Rule number one is be informed. By knowing what is currently happening in the fashion world and how retailing is changing is essential to know in order to stand out. The interviewer wants to know that you have more than just experience, but are enthusiastic and eager to learn. Also they suggested to do research on the company you are interviewing for. Get updated on their recent news, what they are doing to compete with fast fashion, what they are doing well, and overall their brand evolution. They want to know how you can be beneficial to the company and their changes and expansion. Since an interview is all about image and first impressions, it is important to dress the part. How you present yourself says a lot about your character so it is important to make sure you are dressed appropriately. The panelists said that with fashion you should dress on trend so that they know that you have a grasp of the industry and that it is better to be overdressed than underdressed (but nothing too crazy.) They said that when they interview someone they always ask if the interviewee’s taste marries back to what they want to promote with their brand.

Okay, so you did your internships, landed an amazing job, and you are ready to go out in the real world and show off what you’ve learned. But you are nervous about the transition from college to work. Besides the earlier wake up time, they explained how getting out of the intern mindset and becoming flexible, patient and confident is key to have an easy transition. You are used to getting feedback whether it's from a grade or an advisor, but now you have to be proactive to get feedback and have to figure out on your own what comes next. You have to be a self-starter. As an intern you ask lots of questions to learn and get something from your experience. In the workforce, you ask less questions and have to be confident in yourself to take risks and ownership for your decisions. After all, you learn from your mistakes. The ladies also stressed how it was difficult at first to find a balance between work and taking time for yourself. But no matter how intimidating it is, you have to remember that you aren't the only one transitioning and you just have to be patient with yourself.

The ladies closed off the panel by reminding us all to enjoy our time here and that everything happens for a reason. The opportunities that are out there are endless and we just have to go and find them. Marist is constantly having alumni and other industry professionals come to campus to share their stories and help guide students into their careers. I highly recommend taking advantage of these workshops offered to Marist students because it will only benefit you in the end and help lead to your future growth and success.

To find out more about internship opportunities or career advising reach out to career services in the Library room 332 or check out their website www.marist.edu/careerservices/.