As part of their educational experience, students in the Department of Fashion Merchandising are required to complete a supervised internship between junior and senior year. In summer 2019, more than half of the rising seniors in the Department of Fashion Merchandising secured internships outside the Dallas-Fort Worth area. The majority of those students interned in New York City, an international center of fashion.
Students who participate in an internship away from TCU or their hometown incur the costs of travel, housing and other living expenses. Without the support of generous TCU donors, some students might not be able to hold a for-credit internship – which can provide invaluable hands-on learning and networking opportunities – and still afford the cost of living.
During summer 2019, senior fashion merchandising major Brooke DiBiase interned in the sales department at design company Oscar de la Renta, an opportunity supported by the Taylor Family Endowment for Fashion Merchandising. Her reflections on this impactful experience are below.
“Through my internship, I was able to get hands-on experience and a real understanding of what truly goes on in the fashion merchandising industry. There is a real difference between reading about something in a textbook versus actually working in the role with real responsibilities, using what you have learned [in the classroom]. It was interesting for me to be assigned jobs, tasks and duties that I had learned about in theory and finally have the chance to apply my classroom knowledge and skills.
A TCU fashion merchandising education gives students a strong base that is built upon through [professional experiences] in the industry. I felt very prepared arriving at Oscar de la Renta [because] I knew something about almost every aspect of the fashion industry. Even though I was based in the sales department, I was able to use my knowledge to assist people in almost every department.
My favorite part had to be working with the bridal team to assist with VIP and celebrity fittings. Today, most of Oscar de la Renta’s profits come from their ready-to-wear collections, but a large portion of their business still comes from their outstanding bridal gowns. It was a lifelong memory to see the beautiful and famous brides try on the most exquisite gowns for their big day.
I now feel very prepared for a professional role in the fashion industry because I have a real understanding of what various positions entail.
In addition, I am more marketable because I bring to the table the skills to immediately perform in entry level roles in the industry. I believe that the experience of working for [Oscar de la Renta] will open doors due to the firm’s outstanding reputation. I was also able to build relationships with other companies that interface with Oscar de la Renta.
Internship opportunities are extremely important because you gain real life, practical experience, applying what you have learned in the classroom. You are more marketable and certainly more appealing to potential employers when you can add value right away. It is important to have these types of experiences to help you decide what you would like your career to be down the road.”
Student’s comments have been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.
Join the College of Fine Arts on TCU Gives Day, Nov. 13-14, to help students, like Brooke, continue pursuing their passions.