Fashion interns design their futures

Emily Rasinski

Fashion design and merchandising majors gain valuable, real-world experience

Think of Amy Hager the next time you put on a pair of American Eagle pants. The senior fashion merchandising major may have helped get your pants from the designer’s hands to your store.

Last summer and fall, Hager interned with American Eagle Outfitters production department in New York City. She is one of the many students who put their education into practice each year as interns in the fashion industry.

There, unlike the stereotypical intern who makes coffee and works a fax machine, fashion interns get hands-on, real-life experience.

Melanie Carrico, associate professor of fashion and internship adviser, said fashion interns’ work could involve anything from doing sketches, producing fashion shows, coming up with design ideas or helping to manage a store.

“It’s putting things into practice,” she said. “It’s one more layer of education and helps to validate things we’ve talked about.”

Hager dealt with three different seasons of clothing from the initial conception of the idea to the finished piece of clothing.

She said the amount of responsibility she was given was kind of shocking.

“I corresponded daily with the vendors,” she said. “I’d check my e-mail everyday for the production status report and make sure every style was on schedule. I made sure the vendors, designers and buyers were on the same page.”

While Hager said she learned a lot from her experience, she said one thing she got out of it was realizing it isn’t the profession she wants to pursue.

“I love New York,” she said, “but I don’t want to live there. If you want to do fashion, you usually have to go there.”

In contrast, senior fashion design major Mei-Yee Leung said working her internship helped confirm her desire to work as a designer.

While Hager traveled to the Big Apple to find her internship, Leung went home to gain her experience — to Hong Kong. Leung spent her summer vacation designing jeans for On Time Fashion.

Leung pointed out one main difference between being a student and the working world. “When you’re working,” she said, “at least you have Sundays off.”

Contact fine and professional arts reporter Emily Rasinski at [email protected].