Lily Henderson ’16 Unexpected Lessons


My internship at Oscar de la Renta this summer was an extremely valuable learning experience, however not for the reasons that I anticipated.  Going into the summer, I looked forward to my first opportunity to work in the fashion industry and was grateful that this experience would be at the reputable company of Oscar de la Renta. My first couple of days at the office, I was assigned menial tasks, such as taking down photos of sketches from the past season. The second week into the internship, I started using excel to compile reports; the skills I learned for these assignments will be useful for any future career I hold, and I recognize the value that this training added to my resume. However, overall I was underwhelmed by the department I was in and began to second guess my pursuit of a career in this industry.

Not only did I feel unchallenged by the work that I was doing, but I realized the culture of the company itself didn’t align with my desires for a work environment (a personal judgement which is potentially transferrable to my view of all companies in the fashion industry). After a week of training I felt completely competent in all aspects of the role I had in the merchandising department. Furthermore, towards the end of my time at the company, a new associate was brought on, and her training was shockingly similar to my own- I realized that the work my superiors were doing was fairly similar to my everyday tasks, and I became disappointed in the idea of returning to the company to repeat what I had already learned instead of challenging myself in new ways.

This realization that the job I was in line to pursue required no long-term development and learning in my experience dampened any previous desires I had to work at the company and in the fashion industry. However, I am grateful for the time that I spent interning this summer. Not only did I learn about what creates a fulfilling job for me (one that is dynamic, challenging, and fast-paced), but I also learned that it is okay to not enjoy your summer internship because I now know to invest my time in pursuit of other career options- I know what will not make me happy post-graduation. Instead of figuring out that I was headed in a straight path to my dream career, I realized that my road will be crooked, somewhat bumpy and unexpected.