Spotlight shines on summer internships

By Katherine Klingseis, katherine.klingseis@iowastatedaily.com

Obtaining an internship is something many ISU students will eventually have to do. While searching for the perfect internship, some students may become discouraged. To help these students, here are four stories of students who have found interesting internships. From getting sushi for The Ready Set to fetching fabric for designers at Ralph Lauren, these students were involved in some unforgettable internships. These stories prove that interesting internships do exist, you just have to look for them.

Jamie Torgrimson

Jamie Torgrimson, senior in apparel, merchandising and design, has been wearing Ralph Lauren clothes since she was little girl. When she was applying for internships last year, of course the iconic company was on the top of her list.

“I was in Italy at the time, so I was applying for all my internships abroad — called them long-distance and emailed as much as I could,” Torgrimson said. “I heard back from [Ralph Lauren], and then we kept corresponding.”

After a while, the company asked Torgrimson for her portfolio, electronic versions of her projects and a resume and cover letter. The company eventually asked Torgrimson to come in for an interview.

“They offered me the job right after the interview, and I didn’t expect that,” Torgrimson said. “They were just like, ‘So, when can you start?’ and I was like, ‘I have the internship?'”

Torgrimson started her internship in New York five days after returning from studying abroad in Italy.

“I moved from Italy, which is the slowest, most relaxed place,” Torgrimson said. “Then, you get to New York and everyone is pretty much running everywhere you go, and it’s so busy, and so loud, and so hectic.”

At Ralph Lauren, Torgrimson worked in the fabric department of creative design for Women’s Black Label Clothing.

“Women’s Black Label is one step below runway collection,” Torgrimson said. “It’s all much more expensive than I could afford, but it’s cool to see that high-end of clothes.”

Torgrimson had a wide array of responsibilities at Ralph Lauren. From sitting in on vendors’ meetings to preparing boards for presentations, Torgrimson had to be ready for anything.

“I would go down to these different fabric mills [in downtown New York], and they would say, ‘We want this fabric, this weight, this color,'” Torgrimson said. “There would be just rows and rows and rows of fabric, and you would just have to find the one they were talking about.”

Women’s Black Label sources its fabrics from Italy. When the mills in Italy closed at the end of the season, the company decided to move Torgrimson over to children’s wear.

“I had never had any interest in children’s wear,” Torgrimson said. “Then, I went up there, and I loved it. I got to see a whole other side of the industry.”

From her internship at Ralph Lauren, Torgrimson was able to see how the fashion industry really operates. She also gained confidence in her own abilities.

“You kind of learn that you don’t always have to know how everything works — you learn it as you go,” Torgrimson said. “I learned to trust myself a little bit more than I did at the beginning.”

In the future, Torgrimson hopes to return to New York to pursue her career in fashion.

“Ideally, I would like to move [to New York] in the fall and have a career lined up,” Torgrimson said. “If it’s with Ralph Lauren, I would be the happiest girl in the world, [but] if not, I’m willing to work my way from the entry level position all the way up.”

Melissa Wasserman

Not many ISU students can say they spent the summer interning at a company in Guatemala. However, Melissa Wasserman, junior in apparel, merchandising and design, did exactly that.

“The company is a fair trade company, and they work with Guatemalan textiles that are hand-woven on backstrap loom by women for a fair price,” Wasserman said. “Basically, we buy the fabric straight from them, and have it shipped to Bronx, New York, where it is constructed in a workshop by other individuals who are in need of jobs as well.”

The company where Wasserman interned at is called Goods of Conscience. The company’s goal is to provide a living wage for Mayan India weavers in Guatemala and underemployed sewers in the Bronx.

Wasserman is quite familiar with the country of Guatemala. She has family living in the country, and she visits there almost every summer.

“I’ve always been in love with the weaving there and the women,” Wasserman said. “My friends’ moms — this is how they’re supporting their families, so I wanted to give them an outlet to do that because I saw what was going on: They weren’t getting a fair price for the work they were doing.”

Wasserman heard about Goods for Conscience from a friend. Due to her interest in textiles and fair trade, Wasserman jumped at the opportunity to intern at the company.

“Originally, [my friend] had given me an article about the company, and I read it, [but] didn’t really think about it because this was before I was thinking about internships,” Wasserman said. “Later, I got it out, and was like, ‘Oh, this is really cool.'”

During the time of Wasserman’s internship, Goods of Conscience was working on its fall 2010 line. The company gave Wasserman a lot of free reign and even gave her the chance to design garments for the company.

“[My boss] would give me a theme or different images, and I would come up with garments,” Wasserman said. “Then, I would show it to him, and he would tweak it and make sure that it would work, and then I would go pick up different fabrics and finishings and then draw up sketches.”

Wasserman would then give all these things to the company’s pattern maker and sewers, and they would construct the garment. Eventually, the garment would then be up for sale.

“It’s still a pretty new company, but they have been featured in Vogue,” Wasserman said. “Cameron Diaz wore a pair of their shorts on the cover, and I think a pair of shorts were worn by Julia Roberts in her ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ movie.”

From her experience at Goods of Conscience, Wasserman learned the importance of organization.

“When we were putting together [the fall 2010] line, I had to have all the looks completely organized: how much fabric was going to be used, how much that fabric was going to cost, how long it was going to take, how many hours it takes to construct that garment, how much do we want that garment to be priced,” Wasserman said.

Now that the internship is over, Wasserman is looking toward the future.

“Eventually, I would like to have my own line, but I don’t think I will be doing that right out of college,” Wasserman said. “[I would like to] either go back to that company or a company similar to it.”

Samantha Liametz

Samantha Liametz, junior in journalism and mass communication, knew that she wanted to intern for a government or a non-profit agency. When she found the Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon Foundation internship on ISU CMS, she immediately became interested in the opportunity.

“The thing that I loved [about the internship] was their description was everything I wanted to do,” Liametz said. “It was: ‘you get to write, you get to design, and you get to event plan.'”

The Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon Foundation is a non-profit organization that fundraises to earn money for renovation and preservation of the fairgrounds.

“If you think about it, the fair has millions of people that come through those fairgrounds, and it’s been around for a long time, and a lot of the buildings have been around for that long,” Liametz said. “[The foundation] spends the time looking for sponsors, and branching out to different fundraising opportunities or different sponsorships from everyday people.”

Liametz marked the Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon Foundation internship as a favorite. However, she forgot about it for a few months.

“I got back on ISU CMS, and I found my job, and was like, ‘oh right, yeah, that application is due really soon,'” Liametz said.

After sending in her resume, cover letter and portfolio, Liametz received a phone call from the foundation asking her to complete a few assignments, such as creating a marketing plan and a press release.

Liametz sent in her assignments, and the foundation asked her to go to Des Moines for an interview.

“I sat down, and had an interview with them, and I actually did not think I got the job,” Liametz said. “They said that there were really a ton of applicants in the pool.”

Fortunately for Liametz, she was wrong. A few weeks later, the foundation called her again and asked if she wanted to accept the position.

While interning at the foundation, Liametz had many responsibilities. One of her biggest responsibilities was to be in charge of the media and marketing of the “Iowa of the Day” program.

“The first thing that I had to do was create a list of places that I was going to send out all of this promotional material,” Liametz said. “Then, I had to make all the promotional materials.”

Liametz also got the chance to do interviews. For one interview, she even got the chance to go into a radio station studio.

“I went into the studio, and they asked me questions, and I had to give my little spiel,” Liametz said. “It was all very intimidating.”

As the fair got closer, Liametz became the assistant to the director of the foundation, John Putney.

“I was in charge of the organizing of all the mailings,” Liametz said. “It was more or less trying to keep on top of everything that was going on.”

From her experience at the Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon Foundation, Liametz learned the importance of forming good relationships with her co-workers.

“Realistically, you have a lot of opportunities wherever you go because the truth is that you make your opportunities,” Liametz said. “The people that you work with will ok [those opportunities], and they are the ones that will support you.”

Jennie Bunkofske

Her love of music led Jennie Bunkofske, senior in marketing, to intern last summer at Doghouse Records/The Working Group Artist Management in New York City.

“I know the label pretty well,” Bunkofske said. “The All-American Rejects, their ‘Swing, Swing’ album was on there; ‘Say Anything’ was on there, The Get Up Kids.”

Bunkofske has been interested in alternative music since she was 13 years old. At that time, her taste of music was drastically different than that of her classmates.

“When all those girls were listening to Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, I was listening to Something Corporate, Fall Out Boy, the Starting Line, Taking Back Sunday,” Bunkofske said. “An older friend, you know how you always look up to people older than you, kind of took me under her wing, and showed me all that music.”

During her college career, Bunkofske has worked at Authentic Records in Des Moines, and has booked bands for Zeke’s in Ames.

Bunkofske, however, knew that she wanted to work in New York City. So, she applied to all the labels she knew in New York City. In late March, Bunkofske applied for the Doghouse Records/The Working Group Artist Management internship.

“I just put in my resume, and they called me back,” Bunofske said. “I did a quick phone interview, and it was the easiest interview I have ever done. They were like, ‘Alright, sounds good.'”

While interning at the record label, Bunkofske had many daily duties. Some of these duties included delegating email inquiries and putting together preorders.

“Slowly as the internship went on I started becoming more like the new media person, which is what I want to be,” Bunkofske said. “I did more of all the online stuff.”

Among the more exciting aspects of her internship, Bunkofske was able to deliver a never-before-touched CD from the studio to the record label, hire a student director for a music video and meet many musical artists.

“I know the Ready-Set is coming to VEISHEA, and I actually got him sushi and pizza this summer,” Bunkofske said. “I met Cady Groves, Plug In Stereo; we saw Devo walking through the office.”

Bunkofske also enjoyed the laid-back atmosphere of the office.

“It almost felt like halfway through the internship that I wasn’t even an intern,” Bunkofske said. “I would actually go out with [the full-time staff], and go to shows.”

However, Bunkofske believes that most important thing she gained from her internship was the chance to network with a countless number of individuals in the music industry.

“Especially in the music industry, it’s all about who you know, who will do you a favor to get you into the label,” Bunkofske said.

Next summer, Bunkofske will be interning at another recording label in New York City. The label is called Fueled by Ramen, and it currently manages bands like Panic! at the Disco, Paramore and Cobra Starship.

“[Fueled by Ramen] is my dream label,” Bunkofske said. “I’ve been wanting to intern there since I was 14 years old.”

(Posted originally on Iowastatedaily.com on March 22, 2011)

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