This is the second of an ongoing series offering tips from young professionals on how to land a fashion internship. These 20-somethings are interning at renowned fashion houses from Marc Jacobs to Oscar de la Renta. They’re bravely walking up to industry leaders and giving elevator speeches and handing out resumes and business cards. They’re sticking their foot in the door of one of the most competitive industries. And they’re getting hired.
Company: Oscar de la Renta
Position: Design Intern, Fabric Research and Development
School: University of Northern Iowa
Major: Apparel and Textiles
On a school trip, Tyler Grimm was the only student sitting in Oscar de la Renta’s office to stride up to the intern supervisor. He shook her hand and handed her his resume. The next day he strode into the office in his Express suit for an interview. Two days later he had the job.
Here’s how he did it.
Tell me a bit about your day-to-day at Oscar de la Renta?
Day to day I assist the staff director—they do all the communicating with the mills and researching and developing new fabrication for the collection. Plus I do local sourcing in the garment district. Basically, at Oscar de la Renta, the role of a design intern is a little bit more liberal. I’ll be able to help with embroidery or in sales. I really get to see a holistic point of view of the industry instead of focusing on doing this job or that job.
What prepared you to lend a hand in so many aspects of the company?
I studied textiles at the University of Northern Iowa. Being in fabric helped me develop the skills I need at my internship.
How did the process work from introducing yourself to interview—did you follow up?
My advice is to follow up a day or two after. But I had received a call the next morning to come in for my interview. After the interview I immediately wrote a letter. It’s a bonus point to show initiative on little things like that.
What did you wear to the interview?
I probably overdressed a little bit. I did wear a two-piece suit, a button up and nice shoes. They were all from Express, so it wasn’t Giorgio Armani by any means. Honestly, I’m very surprised—the work environment here, as far as what we wear, is very different than I expected. It’s more style, especially in the creative fields. You can wear denim into work. For example, today I’m wearing a button-up shirt with black pants and sneakers. It’s very casual.
What kind of questions did they ask during the interview process?
They basically went through my resume and asked questions based on that. It wasn’t what you’d think a normal job interview would be—you know, "What are your strengths and weaknesses?" It wasn’t really like that. But I would for sure ask questions. That’s a big thing.
What suggestions do you have for students who don’t have the opportunity to jet to New York on a school trip?
Linkedin. I know they encourage you not to randomly add people in the industry. But I did. And it helps. She (one of the past UNI students who planned the trip and interned at Oscar de la Renta) had performed really well there and made a good connection with UNI. She originally connected with her supervisor at Oscar by straight up asking if there are internship opportunities over Linkedin. It’s a good tool to have.
At Oscar you have your hand in a tons of projects at once. What about you stood out as capable to your supervisor?
Having a good attitude about any task. Honestly, as interns in the fashion industry you’re going to suffer a little bit. You’re going to have to do shit work. It’s just the reality. But having a good attitude—they acknowledge it. And it’s given me a lot of opportunities. I got to be one of the few interns to help change the models in the back of the resort show. I made so many connections.
How do you nurture these connections?
Make sure you reconnect. A lot of people in internships will connect with these people and forget to reconnect afterwards. Then they email them for references and never hear from them again.
Now we know how you stood out to Oscar de la Renta. How did they stand out to you?
It’s one of a handful of luxury brands in America. They do everything that’s on the runway in-house. No one else in New York City does the whole collection in-house. Everyone else does maybe 70 percent and then the rest is sent out to Asia somewhere or outsourced to the garment district. I’m very fortunate to be where I’m at.
Where are you hoping to go from here, and what’s your dream job?
I definitely feel like I have a natural calling, or at least knowledge of textiles. So that’s where I’ll get my foot in the door. Then I want to move up in the studio, like to fabric director. Managing a studio—that would be a cool job.
What’s your one be-all, tell-all piece of advice for aspiring design interns?
Have a vision for yourself and go for it.