by Michelle Rodriguez, The Avenue Magazine president
For my second co-op, I was fortunate enough to be able to work as a PR and Social Media Manager for Nautica in NYC. As a graduating fifth year, I feel it is my duty to guide the younger members of our community to help them understand what it is like to work in the fashion industry as a co-op. Outlined below are some tidbits of advice to help you figure out the industry.
You won’t have to run about the city like some would think. When I first started working at my co-op I was expecting to be like Andy from The Devil Wear Prada running around NYC, but to my surprise there wasn’t much of that. My boss valued me as a co-op and wanted me to learn and grow as a marketer. Open communication was key. Make sure you are transparent with your boss about what you want to get out of your co-op; that way they are aware of your goals and can tailor your projects to help you achieve as much as possible.
Fashion Week really is crazy but it’s worth all the work at the end of the day. As a spring co-op, I was thrown directly into the planning and execution of our fashion week show. There were definitely nights when my boss and I stayed behind in the office while our co-workers enjoyed happy hours out in the city. It was in those moments, when we were both stressed trying to figure out how the solve the latest issues, that I found myself wondering if this was really worth all the heartache. But once you see the final product and you get the positive reviews, it is then that you can finally take a breath and know that all your hard work paid off. If you find yourself overwhelmed and slightly neurotic from all the work, just think about the end product and how amazing it is going to look.
Photoshoots aren’t as glamorous as you would think. As part of my position I was required to attend all photoshoots. At first I was really excited to lend a helping hand, but I grew bored waiting for something to do. It was frustrating that this happened, but it wasn’t only I who faced the boredom. Luckily, my fellow co-workers felt the same, and with our spare time we would liven up the mood by playing music and providing tons of caffeine and sugar to get us through. This experience allowed me to grow closer to my team and connect with them more; you can always make a bad situation better by taking the time to see who’s around you.
Take advantage of the discounts and free samples. Being in the retail industry comes with its perks. You are able to see firsthand what the new season entails, as well as often getting a discount on merchandise; mine was 50 percent! What’s really special about working in a corporate office is being able to raid the sample closet before the clothes go out for sale. Make sure that you take full advantage of it as you will miss it once you are out of the industry. Of course before making assumptions that you are able to take from the sample closet, always double check with your boss.
Reflecting on my time as a co-op in the fashion industry, I thoroughly enjoyed my experience and can’t recommend it enough to others. I hope that by reading this you’ve gotten a taste of what it is like to work in the industry. No matter what industry you’re in, make sure that you’re happy with what you’re doing and try to learn as much as possible, because if you don’t you will come to regret in the future.