Perspectives: YMA-FSF Scholarships
In January, eight Wilson College of Textiles students traveled to New York City where they were honored as recipients of YMA-FSF scholarships. In addition to attending the YMA gala, the student group, led by Kent Hester, director of Student and Career Services, had the chance to meet with alumni and visited three companies: Mara Hoffman, Kohl’s Design Center, Macy’s Design & Fabric R&D. A few of the students share their Perspectives on the experience.
Day 1: Wednesday, January 11, 2017
Most of the students’ days started around 3 a.m., with only a few hours of sleep. We carpooled to the airport, talking excitedly about the adventure ahead. With coffee in hand, we boarded the plane for a quick one-hour flight, landing at 7 a.m. at La Guardia.
After checking in to the hotel, we quickly changed into business clothes and headed to breakfast in the lobby, with a beautiful view of the city. We purchased metrocards and headed to the Mara Hoffman office for a meeting with Eleanor Hoffman, a Wilson College of Textiles (COT)graduate and associate designer. She brought along some of her colleagues to answer our questions, tell us about their careers, and provide a picture of what working in the industry is like at Mara Hoffman. We even had the opportunity to view a few of their most recent collections.
We then headed off to lunch, stopping near Union Square to get noodle bowls. Visiting the Kohl’s office was next on the agenda, with an exclusive invitation for all of the YMA Scholars to attend a presentation and a tour. The Kohl’s office spanned three floors in a building off Broadway, and we received a tour from COT grad Davis Derrico who works in the office.
We were able to change into casual clothes before heading to Brother Jimmy’s, a southern style bbq place, to meet and network with COT graduates working in New York. They reserved their basement room for our group and we spent the evening chatting excitedly with all the wonderful, successful COT alumni before getting some rest for the days ahead.
Day 2: Thursday, January 12, 2017
The YMA-FSF program has expanded in recent years to provide more than just the scholarship to students. Part of their expansion was offering a session during which several industry professionals shared advice on resumes, interviews, saving money for the future, accepting and declining and internship, and much more. These topics served to help us gain a further understanding of the workings of the fashion industry. Each of us took away something different from the presentations from portfolio recommendations to tips on creating a valuable LinkedIn profile.
After the presentations, we grabbed a quick lunch as a group and got ready for the gala. All the winners went through a quick rehearsal before any guests arrived. Later in the evening the winners had the opportunity to network with board members from the FSF during a two-hour cocktail party. The cocktail party was followed by the largest gala in YMA history, which is also the largest single fashion event in New York City. The event was attended by more than 1,400 industry professionals and celebrities including Kellan Lutz, presenting the Geoffrey Beene scholars, and Michael Strahan, the “Future of Fashion” award winner. Each of us had the opportunity to further network with those in attendance before the dinner and presentations.
One of the highlights of night was getting to walk across the stage and be recognized as a school for all of our accomplishments. The energy and excitement at the event was well worth the sore feet from hours of wearing heels.
Day 3: Friday, January 13
Friday morning was reserved for the Young Menswear Association Career Fair, where various companies attended to recruit the scholars. The career fair included big names such as Macy’s Gap Inc., Dickies, Randa Accessories, and Haddad Brands, among others. All the NC State scholars did a great job of talking to as many companies as they could, making connections for our future careers.
After the career fair, we were given a bit of free time before our tour of the Macy’s design offices. We headed for a quick, inexpensive lunch at Pret A Manger, before doing some shopping in Zara and Urban Outfitters on 5th Avenue. We then split up, with a group continuing to shop for apparel while the rest of us went to the famed fabric store, Mood.
In the Macy’s office we were given a tour of the showrooms for their private brand Hotel, as well as insight into their materials library for menswear and womenswear. The Macy’s offices spanned seven floors, though we did not get to tour all of them. Our gracious hosts, COT alumni Kate Schnable and Melissa Ward-Kracher, told us about their career paths and the requirements of their current position at Macy’s. One of the most memorable discussions was learning about the design process from start to finish of a comforter set.
After the Macy’s tour there were only a few hours until our flight, so we made our way back to our hotel via the subway at rush hour. It was quite difficult for such a big group of us to stay together amidst the chaos and we ended up parting to take different subways. Once at the hotel, we changed into our comfortable clothes and were on our-hour long ride to the airport. We happily discussed events from the week as we passed through security, waited at our gate, and flew home. Each of us is very grateful to Kent Hester for arranging so many opportunities and connections for us, as well as being one heck of a tour guide. I was so happy to get to know the other Textiles students better while on this trip, as we enjoyed each other’s company in the big city. It was certainly a trip to remember and hopefully one that will keep giving.