The Business of Fashion: An Internship at Tommy Hilfiger
Lectures and seminars can introduce you to the business world, but there’s nothing like an internship to show you the inner workings of a real company. Ithaca College student Christie Parlamas ’09 got her taste of business merchandising during a demanding internship at Tommy Hilfiger last summer.
Parlamas, a business administration major, has always wanted to work in the fashion industry. She got her start in high school, working for the stores Limited Too and Abercrombie and Fitch. She was eventually promoted to store manager at Abercrombie -- the first person without a college degree to hold the position at that store.
As her undergraduate years at Ithaca progressed, she felt an increasing desire to get an internship and gain field experience before graduation. “My dream was to land an internship with Dolce & Gabbana, and I had an opportunity to interview there,” Parlamas says.
“The interviewer gave me two minutes to blurt out everything I knew about the company and tell her why she should hire me. It was very intimidating and not at all what I expected.”
Although she didn’t land that dream internship, her perseverance paid off with an opportunity at Tommy Hilfiger headquarters in Manhattan. “Someone telling you no is just an opportunity for someone else to say yes,” Parlamas explains.
The internship was a full-time, unpaid summer commitment, four days a week for 10-12 hours each day. To afford the unpaid experience, Parlamas endured a three-hour commute to the city and back from her home in New Jersey. As an intern for the senior vice president of corporate communications she was responsible for many important tasks.
Her main project throughout the summer was putting together a portfolio called “Tommy in the News.” She looked through major publications to find anything associated with the Tommy Hilfiger brand: photographs, logos, quotes, features, and stories. Every brief mention of the brand had to be clipped and put into the portfolio.
In the fast-paced fashion world of Tommy Hilfiger, anything can happen at any time, and Parlamas was expected to respond accordingly, whether that meant running through the city grabbing clothing for models or helping prepare for the next big marketing event.
The internship was hectic, but Parlamas says it solidified her career goals, making it worth every hour on the train, every demand from a supervisor, and every yawn after long hours in the office.
“I am really glad I did this internship,” Parlamas says. “I met a lot of people and learned how the corporation’s departments are connected to one another.”
Parlamas attributes much of her success in the internship to what she learned at IC’s business school. “The professionalism of the business school -- and especially what I learned in my marketing classes -- helped me prepare for the pace of the business world,” she explains.
Parlamas plans to go to fashion school after graduation and hopes to someday become a buyer, the person who researches marketing trends and sales reports, decides which clothes are sold where, and makes important decisions about fabrics, pricing, placement, and distribution. Her experiences both in class and on the job in the big city are sure to bring her more success in years to come.
Originally published in Fuse: The Business of Fashion: An Internship at Tommy Hilfiger.