What happens when a college recruiter joins a dozen WSU apparel and design students on the road in LA? Ideas are shared, eyes are opened, and both current and future students benefit.
Kari Sampson, recruiter for AMDT’s parent college, the WSU College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences, joined the AMDT industry tour in LA last spring. Below, she talks about her experience.
Why did you join the tour?
“I was provided the opportunity by Dr. Joan Ellis, chair of AMDT, and Dr. Kim Kidwell, Executive Associate Dean for Academic Programs in CAHNRS. I was fairly new to our college, so they thought I should immerse myself in the industry through the LA study tour. It would help me grasp the breadth and depth of professional opportunities available to our AMDT students.
My experience was far above and beyond what I expected. Seeing firsthand the development of apparel, from ‘dirt to shirt’ was an eye-opener. By the end of the week-long tour, I was able to clearly connect how cotton grown in a field was processed, formed into fiber and material, designed into apparel, and marketed to a target audience.”
What stood out on the trip?
“I was most impressed with the working relationships and connections our AMDT faculty and staff have with a wide variety of amazing companies, retailers, designers and merchandisers in Los Angeles and the Pacific Northwest, including Speedo USA, Nordstrom and Hautelook, to name a few.
As a college recruiter, I connect with many prospective students and parents. Financial stability and industry demand are my two most-discussed topics with them. It’s essential for me to be able to paint a clear picture for students interested in AMDT. This tour showed me that professional opportunities within this industry are endless.
Another eye-opener was the tour of a fabric warehouse with four levels, over 100,000 square feet, and more than 500 employees—it was operational 24/7. There we saw cotton morph from its raw form into fabric that was dyed, patterned, cut, and sold to key merchandisers.
We interacted with a variety of industry professionals, from cutters and pattern makers to managers in quality assurance, production, and sourcing. In a three-hour tour, I shook hands with a dozen different professionals under the AMDT umbrella—and this was only half of one day of the five-day trip!
I was very impressed with our Speedo USA tour. Diane Jefferies, Speedo’s Vice President of Global Supply Chain and current chair of our AMDT Advisory Board, clearly conveyed the vast opportunities available within Speedo. We viewed Speedo’s strategic plan and met a variety of key stakeholders. What became overwhelmingly obvious is the interest Speedo has in the professional growth and education of our students. No question was dismissed and an open dialogue gave our students a true picture of how Speedo operates.
We also toured Toms. I am a huge proponent of philanthropy, and was especially struck by Toms’ mission to provide shoes, sight and clean water to people in need. Visiting this facility provided a whole different layer to the industry tour experience.”
How does this tour help students?
“Like me, our students were amazed by the amount of professional possibilities available to them. Connecting with owners, managers, designers and forecasters allows our students to envision themselves in the industry. Concepts are no longer just classroom concepts, but have real life applications.
The ability of our students to think big and outside the box will help them grasp the endless opportunities in a fantastic industry. Dr. Ellis has done a phenomenal job bringing many of the amazing industry partners from all over the country to the classrooms of our AMDT students.
My advice to students is simple: Leave no rock unturned. Seize every opportunity available during your university experience.”