In the summers in between your years at Northwestern, there seem to be two options: find an amazing, resume-changing internship or go abroad and expand your cultural horizons. Always indecisive, I decided to do both, which is how I found myself in Sydney, Australia, writing trend-copy, deep-etching images of scantily-clad women, creating photo shoot briefs and generally working a dream job.
I have the very great privilege to be the Marketing Intern at JETS Swimwear, a swimwear brand in Australia known for innovative design, premium fabrics and an accessible high-fashion aesthetic. As a Marketing Intern, my work is focused on communicating the JETS brand and the JETS aesthetic in a specific, tailored way, as well as finding new avenues through which to reach customers. In my day-to-day, I can be found doing any number of things: writing a rough draft of the brand kit for retailers who carry our collection, creating fashion edits blog posts about Couture Week Street Styling, merchandising department store floors, wrestling with the office espresso machine, picking up lunch from the best-kept secret café in Alexandria, deep-etching web images or building boxes in the company warehouse. But my favourite assignments are those that involve long bouts of sitting at my desk, writing any number of things, zoned in on trying to find the perfect synonym for ‘chic’ or trying to craft succinct prose about the unforgettable work of Patrick Demarchelier. I often tell friends and family stateside that I had no idea that this job existed: a professional position, outside the strict box of fashion journalism, that allows me to exercise both my love and reverence of the fashion industry and my passion for writing simultaneously, day in and day out. Importantly, though, my job is not all creativity: In the eyes of the JETS team, there is no job too big, too small, too simple or too challenging to become a teachable, valuable moment and because of this, I have learned more in eight weeks with JETS than I could’ve ever learned in a full summer stateside. My time with JETS and in Australia has taught me three valuable lessons that I truly believe would have been impossible to learn anywhere else in the world.
- Getting to know every department of a company makes for better, stronger, more impactful work. Sure, it is simple to create genuine copy about a collection when you have seen it, read the inspiration notes on it and understand what the designer is attempting to communicate. But it becomes so much simpler when you understand how the garment is actually, physically crafted, how it has to be shot and edited for publicity imagery and how many pieces are made according to demand. JETS places particular focus on following a garment from its conception to the customer’s hands and it is a valuable lesson: watch a tree grow from the ground up, and you’ll be more appreciative (and knowledgeable!) about the leaves at the top.
- Be a person. During my first interview with JETS back in March, my supervisor said, “We’ll want to know what you’re up to over the weekends—we’re quite nosy,” and I instantly knew that this company was interested in hiring Abby, the college student/fitness instructor/classic literature enthusiast/fashion blog addict, not in clean-cut, black-and-white resume Abigail. My co-workers and supervisors are interested in my work and my learning at JETS, but they’re also interested in the yoga class I took after work, the finer points of the American university Greek system and funny stories from my childhood—in other words, being a person rather than just an employee creates a stronger bond with my colleagues and creates a work environment that is more enjoyable to be in and therefore, more productive because I want to come to work and contribute to the JETS community.
- Say “yes” more than you think you should. There have been many tasks that I’ve taken on in my time with JETS that scared me—projects that involved learning Photoshop and InDesign, dressing models for retail showings, being an important link in the behind-the-scenes work of updating the website. Normally, I would tout my inexperience as a reason not to involve me on these projects, but instead, I simply said, “yes.” Yes, I will learn, I will jump off the deep end into something I don’t understand, I will stick out my neck for the sake of new skills and contribution to the company that has nurtured me. And thank God I did—the more I said yes, the more responsibility I was given and the more I was able to learn about the industry in an experiential way.
Maybe you don’t have to go overseas to learn professional lessons that give your career path shape, but it has certainly made the difference for me. Being removed from your regular environment makes you more apt to try new things and be open to every possibility in front of you, not just the ones that look the best—and that’s something we could all learn to do a little more of.