An internship of a lifetime

Rising senior Priyanka Reddy has been experiencing the fast-paced lifestyle of a New York City fashion designer this summer. She credits a WashU Career Center counselor with helping her land this internship at Derek Lam, which she said is crucial to her future career. Here’s her story…

Where did the summer go? With school only a few weeks away, I’m realizing just how fast the last couple of months have flown by. I am wrapping up my internship at Derek Lam, a ready-to-wear fashion company based in New York, and this summer has been a blur of designer clothes and eccentric personalities.

As a fashion major at Wash U, I set out to find an internship for this summer early in the spring semester, applying to a variety of large and small brands that I loved and wanted to have the opportunity to work for. Having interned for a tiny company last summer (they were based out of the designer’s apartment!), I was looking for something a little more established but not too corporate. Last fall, the fashion majors took a trip to New York for a few days to visit various alumni in the industry at their places of work, in order to network and to learn more about the field. One of the places we visited was none other than Derek Lam, since the VP of Design for their 10 Crosby line is a Wash U alum. I loved the environment and the aesthetic of the brand, and knew immediately that I wanted to apply to intern there. Once it came time to start applying, I reached out to Jen Meyer (the world’s best career counselor) to see what the best course of action would be. She helped me reach out to the designers, and after a few phone interviews, I was offered a position as a design intern for Derek Lam 10 Crosby. Long story short, I accepted the internship and here I am!

Working in New York is fast-paced, but I love every second of it. I work with a small team, with three designers and three people in product development. The development team works with fabric and trims, and they act as liaisons between the design team and the people who actually execute the finished pieces. Every day is different and challenging, but I’ve learned so much. I’ve been able to apply the technical skills that I’ve learned at Wash U to real garments and it’s been so exciting to see the design process from the very beginning. It helps that my team is so welcoming and passionate about the brand! The company itself has a great culture and never misses out on an opportunity to celebrate an employee birthday. Of course, being an intern isn’t all fun and games, and I’ve definitely had moments of stress; the work is challenging, but the designers in my team are accommodating of my many questions and really are there to help me learn.

Having internship experience is important in every field, but it’s especially crucial in fashion. With so many talented designers graduating from top art schools every year, the competition for design jobs is tough. I’m glad to have had the opportunity to intern for some great companies, and I hope that my new connections and experience will help me when I’m looking for jobs next year.

I only have a couple of weeks left here in New York, so I plan on hitting as many art museums and boutiques as possible before I have to leave. Next stop, senior year!