When it comes to interning in the glamorous world of fashion, there’s good news and there’s bad. The bad news is that, yes, there are plenty of fashion internships where students pay their dues through low-level grunt work such as getting coffee, running errands, and processing mail. The good news is there are some good ones out there. Emily Apollo, a rising senior in the Undergraduate College at NYU’s Stern School of Business, says one of them is the Executive Excellence Program at Saks Fifth Avenue.
As she wraps up an eight-week summer program with Saks in New York City, Apollo reflects on her summer internship experience while looking forward to the homestretch of senior year and hopefully landing a job in the business of fashion.
How She Got to Saks
At just 21-years-old, Apollo has made significant strides toward achieving her dream career in the fashion industry. The southern New Jersey native is preparing to enter into her final year as an undergrad yet she’s racked up some very impressive work experience
“I’ve interned for a new women’s dress line called 4.collective working in their showroom. This was my first time being exposed to the buying side. After that, I was at J.Crew for a semester where I got to see the retail industry. Next, I went abroad to Prague and interned with a fashion magazine.”
Then she took a break from fashion to see what another industry might be like. After a semester working in sports at NBC Universal, Apollo says, “It definitely solidified my interest in fashion. I learned a lot, but I don’t see myself working in sports.” So last semester she returned to fashion and interned with Brooks Brothers doing public relations and events. “I’m fortunate in that I’ve seen fashion and retail from a few different perspectives: wholesale, PR, events, buying, etc.”
It was the buying and planning side of things that drew Emily to the Saks Fifth Avenue internship program. The Executive Excellence Internship is a paid program offering a unique opportunity to high-potential college Juniors who are interested in a career within a luxury retail organization. Students work with Saks’ buying and planning offices to learn key functional skills such as Retail Math, Pre-Market Preparation, systems training, market analysis and forecasting and relationship development with stores and vendors.
Apollo first found out about it in January of this year as she was searching on NYU’s career website. A few weeks after applying, she was invited to an on-campus interview with some of the Saks representatives. Thirty minutes with one of their buyers, 30 minutes with one of their planners and a few more weeks later Emily found herself accepting a summer internship offer from one of the Saks recruiters. Admittedly, Emily says she was relieved to know early in the spring semester what she’d be doing this summer.
Now Emily’s day-to-day is filled with shadowing one of the Saks Fifth Avenue buyers. On the first day, she and a group of about 40 to 50 other interns were brought into a room and told they’d either be paired with a buyer or planner for the duration of their time spent interning. Emily was excited to learn she’d been assigned to work with one of the buyers.
“I like when I can work on something and can see the fruits of my labor. In business, I like to see how my work impacts the bottom line.”
“Being on the buying side I see how the buyer I’m assigned to picks out specific styles and the thought process behind it. Then, when it’s on the sales floor, I get to see how it drives sales for the business. This has proven to be more relevant for the business and more rewarding than some of the other areas of fashion I’ve worked in.”
Other aspects of the internship involve Apollo tagging along with the buyer to showroom appointments to purchase new styles, and looking over her shoulder as the buyer reviews sales numbers, identifies trends, and assesses how the trends vary from store to store and location to location.
“It all seems very rewarding. I didn’t know too much about buying before I got to Saks. Now knowing more, I understand that it’s an even mix of thinking creatively and analytically, plus a great deal of problem solving.”