Turning to mecca: Fashion, retail studies students see their futures in NYC
Sixteen Ohio State students hit the Big Apple, one of the world’s fashion and retail meccas, to see their future professions in action.
The fashion and retail studies students traveled to New York City for the chance to meet and make an impression on executives at the National Retail Federation Big Show in January.
“We got to see the professional world in action,” said Courtney Strickland, a senior from Franklin Furnace, Ohio. “See how the industry is changing; and see it in person, not just read about it in an article or on a blog.”
The event is the National Retail Federation’s annual conference for professionals and students to learn, network and have access to the latest technology and resources. Only 300 students attended this year’s conference. The experience for the OSU students was made possible, in part, because of the fashion and retail studies student experience fund.
Bringing students to professional events such as the Big Show is one of the ways the Fashion and Retail Studies program in the College of Education and Human Ecology sets itself apart, said Leslie Stoel, professor of human sciences.
“This was our first year taking students,” she said. “I have colleagues at other universities, and they talked about what a great experiences it was, so I had to make it happen for our students too.”
Students at the retail conference received valuable career advice from young professionals and mentors. They heard from several CEOs who spoke about the state of their industry. They also interviewed for internships or their first jobs.
The students had 18 interviews while in New York with companies such as Elizabeth Arden, The Container Store, JCPenney, Macy’s, HSN, Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue.
Senior Miranda Webster, of Dayton, Ohio, landed three internship offers because of the connections she made at the Big Show.
“I would have never been offered internships at these high-end companies if I didn’t go on this trip,” Webster said.
The vast majority of companies at the event do not visit Ohio State for recruiting, Stoel said. The trip exposed students to a completely different set of businesses than their peers on campus.
In addition to all they got from the conference, Stoel and other college faculty arranged for students to see firsthand what it’s like to work in fashion and retail in New York City.
Students were able to meet and ask questions to an Ohio State graduate at the offices of Elizabeth Arden. They toured the design studios of ECI, a private label brand of Macy’s and Nordstrom. They saw the design process from concept development to how clothing is merchandised in stores. They also were able to see the footwear industry in action at Mark Tucker, Inc., a studio that creates private label brands for department stores nationwide.
“When our students are exposed to a variety of opportunities like this one, it gives them a better perspective of the retail industry,” Stoel said.
The trip to New York City is one of many opportunities students in the Fashion and Retail Studies program can experience. The Fashion Production Association, the Historic Costume and Textiles Collection and Black Retail Action Group at Ohio State are just a few of the ways students can make the most of their education.
For the 16 students, the National Retail Federation Big Show offered each a glimpse into the world they have been training to join.
“This was a very career-oriented event,” Strickland said. “Going to the Big Show, I can see my future. In our industry, who you know goes a long way.”