NYC Studio program helps grads gain industry experience


Senior fashion merchandising major Jessica Ballas completed her internship at Randa Accessories in New York City. 

Megan Brown

For some majors, an internship is required to graduate. For others it’s a step into the future. 

At Kent State’s Fashion School, an internship is required to graduate. Several students attend the Kent State New York City Studio program every semester and even though an internship is not required there, it’s a way to get their names out there and be noticed by the fashion industry.

Senior fashion design major Michelle Botomogno interned with Nanette Lepore, a Youngstown native, during her time at Kent’s NYC Studio. Lepore is a contemporary fashion designer to celebrities and style gurus such as Taylor Swift, Blake Lively and Michelle Obama. 

“It’s an experience I’ll never forget,” Botomogno said. “I believe an internship is something all students should experience, especially in the fashion industry.” 

The NYC Studio program has a Study Tour class, which gives guided site visits to different industries in the city. Hillary Stone, internship manager for the Fashion School, said if a student is in New York and not ready do an internship for graduation credit in the city, the Study Tour class will let them do an experimental internship. The opportunity lets students visit fashion showrooms and explore different areas of the industry.

“We work very hard to create and give opportunities to students to create industry partners,” Stone said.

Jessica Ballas, senior fashion merchandising major, studied at the Kent State NYC Studio last spring. Because of the study tour class, she found her internship this past summer with Randa Accessories, a company that specializes in menswear and accessories for more than 75 retailers such as Columbia, Levi’s and Trafalgar.

“After visiting them on Study Tour, I followed them on LinkedIn,” said Ballas, who saw a posting for the summer internship with the company and applied right away. “After an interview and many, many follow-up emails and thank you notes, I obtained a merchandising/design internship with them for the summer.” 

During her 10-week program, Ballas had to create an intern project which included designing a new product for the company.

“I designed watches for Trafalgar where I created the product from origins designs on Illustrator, reached out to watch brand factories and captured the target market, branding, marketing techniques and costing,” she said. 

Ballas’ project came in first place out of all ten interns. 

During her final week, she had an exit interview with the vice president of talent and intern coordinator at Randa. She was then offered a position after graduation as one of the company’s assistant merchandiser. 

“There are various websites you can look on to look for internships,” Stone said. “The industry in New York is run by internships, it’s primarily a big support system.” 

Contact Megan Brown at [email protected].