Eau Claire Marketing Student hits New York Fashion Scene
Anyone who wants to work in fashion hopes to work in New York City, the center for the fashion in the United States. Emelia Tan Gim Seet, a University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire marketing student, had just that opportunity this past summer. For Tan Gim Seet, an exchange student from Malaysia, an internship with a New York-based fashion company, was the next big adventure in a series of experiences that included studying abroad in the United States.
Tan Gim Seet found her New York internship using FreeFashionInternships.com, a website she learned about from a friend. The site, which was launched in 2007 by a student intern who wanted to make "top tier fashion internships available to everyone", gave Tan Gim Seet access to "thousands of internship listings, ranging from couture to action sports, design to public relations".
After scrolling through pages of job postings, Tan Gim Seet developed a list of companies she was interested in. One of the companies she sent her resume to was Kal Rieman, Incorporated, a New York-based line of women's clothing designed by Cally Rieman. Kal Rieman, Inc. contacted Tan Gim Seet for an interview. Because of the distance, Rieman and the managers at Kal Rieman, Inc. used Skype and the telephone to interview her.
"Their main concern was whether I would be comfortable moving all the way to New York," said Tan Gim Seet. "But moving a large distance wasn't an issue for me since I am an exchange student," she said. "I viewed the opportunity to live in New York as the next challenge in my life".
Once Tan Gim Seet accepted the internship with Kal Rieman, the real work began. As an assistant to the sales and marketing director, Tan Gim Seet was responsible for managing the company's website and social media sites. She worked closely with Cally Rieman and became "her voice" when posting updates about the company or communicating with customers on Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter. Tan Gim Seet also researched stylists and celebrities she thought would fit the Kal Rieman's concept and used this research to develop a spreadsheet of personal information Kal Rieman employees could reference in the future.
Tan Gim Seet found the work to be exciting yet challenging.
"Working for Kal Rieman was a huge step out of my comfort zone," she admitted. "I am a business student who knew very little about the fashion industry," she said.
To prove that she was capable of doing the job, Tan Gin Seet did her homework, putting in long hours researching fabrics, silhouettes, trends and colors. Eventually, she understood the day-to-day operations of a fashion company.
While the work was demanding, Tan Gim Seet is confident her internship will help her stand out from other applicants when applying for future internships or job opportunities.
"New York is a big city and everything is fast paced," she said. "I am definitely more independent. Meeting people from one of the most diverse cities in the United States has helped me develop better communications skills, "she continued.
Tan Gim Seet loved her time in New York.
"I left NYC with a heavy heart," she said. "Fashion Week was in September and I left before it and the photo shoot for the spring collection," she continued. "I missed out on all the fun stuff but it's okay, I hope I will have another chance in the future."
Tan Gim Seet counsels students who are looking for their dream internship to just go for it.
"Don't let doubt stand in your way of doing something," she advises. "Test and increase your personal boundaries," she continued. "I think people learn the most when they go outside their comfort zone."
Contributors: Matthew Hambidge, Tyler Hougom, Gretchen Hutterli and Jeanelle O'Leary