At Parsons, Fashion Internships Aplenty
At fashion designer Zac Posen’s atelier textiles division, intern and Parsons student Rose Oliva is sent on missions to find pure silk in very specific shades at Mood Designer Fabrics. She must lug rolls and rolls of the material from the crowded garment district to Posen’s office on Canal Street. Riding the subway with pounds of 100% silk that must be returned to one of fashion’s most prominent clothing labels is no easy task. Still, this coveted fashion internship in one of the most competitive fields in the city is worth the stress for some students studying at the prestigious design school.
Every year, students anticipate an email containing the sign-up sheet for internship positions at Milk Studios during Fashion Week, according to Simon Collins, the dean of fashion at Parsons. Located in the Meatpacking district, Milk Studios is a professional photography studio and venue for shows during Fashion Week. Collins has been a strong supporter of the partnership with Milk Studios for roughly two-and-a-half years.
“We are very lucky to be able to host events at Milk and use their studios for photo shoots,” Collins said in a phone interview. “It’s a very healthy relationship.” According to Collins, about 300 to 400 students sign up every year, eclipsing the 100-person limit for the program.
“Working at Milk for Fashion Week will look so good on a resume,” said Brianna Ellsworth, a sophomore fashion design student at Parsons, who took advantage of the opportunity. After attending orientation at Milk Studios and receiving her uniform — free ALDO shoes and Free People jeans — Ellsworth worked as a greeter at the M. Patmos show at the Standard Hotel on September 8. On other occasions, she loaded magazines in a break room for models in between shows at Milk.
In addition to the industry network that the school provides, some students receive internships solely by virtue of the Parsons reputation.
“The woman who interviewed me told me, ‘I didn’t even look at your resume yet, I just saw that you go to Parsons,’” said Olivia, a sophomore majoring in Fashion Design. At her internship, Oliva shops the garment district for specific fabrics.
Both Ellsworth and Oliva’s resumes are on the Parsons Career Board, a Parsons-only online search engine where prospective employers can view student and alumni resumes and offer them internship or job opportunities.
“When I got an email from Marc Jacobs offering me an internship, I cried,” said Ellsworth, whose resume has also been viewed by other notable designers, such as Fitz Simmons and Tommy Hilfiger, on the Parsons Career Board. According to Oliva, designers such as Eileen Fisher and Ralph Lauren have also viewed her resume online.
“In the fashion industry, it is never too early to start interning,” said Collins, “though school work should come first.” He believes that along with their education, internship experiences help graduates leave Parsons with a deep understanding of the industry.
In a 2010 survey conducted by the Association of American Colleges and Universities, 73 percent of employers stated the desire for higher education to put more emphasis on “the ability to apply knowledge and skills to real-world settings through internships and other hands-on experiences.”
“The Parsons name carries a lot of weight in the industry,” said Fiona Dieffenbacher, an associate professor and the director of external projects at Parsons, in a phone interview. “Internships help inform the education and help students understand the market they want to enter and what kind of designer they are,” said Dieffenbacher.