A day in the life of a student extern

Maddie Liotta, Contributing Writer

The unforgiving world of fashion isn’t quite as “unforgiving” as one might think.

Externships, which are temporary training programs held in workplaces, are short, two-day excursions that provide students with an opportunity to become immersed in certain occupational fields. Sophomore students commonly take on externships over winter break. One such student was Emily Powers ’18, who shadowed a professional working for the Ralph Lauren clothing company.

Powers spent her first day at the corporate headquarters running between meetings with partners of Ralph Lauren. Powers said that they didn’t try to sell herself or the other externs on working for their company; instead, the partners discussed the real world with them, offering helpful tips to consider when job hunting after graduation, and asked the externs about themselves.

“[Their] questions reflected what the company cares about, of course. But they also genuinely wanted to know about our lives,” Powers said.

The Ralph Lauren employees would often joke about the way people who had seen the film, “The Devil Wears Prada” perceived the fashion world.

“A lot of the people that worked [at Ralph Lauren] hadn’t even gone to fashion school! They were all extremely down to earth and accepting,” Powers said.

The partners all seemed to share one universal message, which was reaffirmed by the University alumni that worked at Ralph Lauren: great companies are defined by the length of time that their workers remain with them.

“At least every person that worked there had been there at least 15 years, and the Bucknell graduates have stayed ever since graduation. It shows a lot about the company and its work ethic,” Powers said.

On the second and last day of the externship, which she spent in action at a local Bloomingdale’s, Powers worked with displays and wholesale.

“They’re very particular about how the displays have to look … certain clothes have to be in certain areas and there’s a real technique to folding the clothes correctly,” Powers said.

Powers was offered a piece of advice by one of the Ralph Lauren partners: don’t leave a job if it’s been a few years and you haven’t received a raise yet.

“They said that ‘millennials are all about the right now of everything,’” Powers said. “They stressed how it’s more and more difficult to find a new job if you keep abandoning past ones after short periods of employment.”

When asked about other advice that she received, Powers said that she was told to be patient and to love what you do. Companies will notice your determination, and you will be rewarded for it in the long run.

“[University] alumni told us not to worry about the people who will be making ‘big bucks’ right after graduation. There’s a chance they might not love their job very much, and the pay begins to even out after a couple of years,” Powers said.

Powers also heavily advises University students to take part in externships, in as many different fields as they can.

“It’s not a waste of time, even if it’s a bad experience. At least you’ve learned that’s something you don’t want to do.”

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