Making it big in the Big Apple: Students learn to make industry start in spring study tour

AMDT students standing with the WSU flag
Above, students tour the Vince Camuto Group during their week-long New York City industry visit in April.

Apparel students learned how education and effort lead from the rolling hills of Pullman to the bright lights of the Big Apple on their 2017 spring break study tour.

Whether it was WSU alumni sharing tips for success or top designers telling how they made their start, the annual tour, March 12-18, gave 18 undergraduates important lessons in confidence and career building.

AMDT students in the Vince Camuto office
AMDT students got an in-depth look at industry at the Vince Camuto Group.

Shanna Pumphrey, AMDT’s academic and internship coordinator, and Amy Hughes, AMDT instructor and WSU doctoral student, led 18 juniors and seniors in visits to seven companies: Ralph Lauren, Cotton Inc., Nordstrom, Elle Magazine, women’s apparel designer and distributor Vince Camuto Group, and shoe designers Steve Madden and Sam Edelman.

“At every company, we met people who earned their degrees in places like Pullman, from Iowa to Texas,” said Pumphrey. “It was really important for our students to hear that and realize that they can do it, too.”

“I had felt removed from industry at times, but after visiting New York I feel more prepared and motivated than ever,” said student David Brocious. “Not only was this the opportunity of a lifetime, but it was also a genuinely fulfilling and exciting experience.”

At Ralph Lauren, students met two AMDT design alumni now working for the international fashion company.

AMDT students outside in front a sculpture of the word love
Exploring New York, students visit the iconic “Love”
sculpture on West 55th Street.

“Our students wanted to know how they adapted to New York,” Pumphrey said. “They got to see what industry really looks like—and that it isn’t scary.”

The New York trip—which alternates every other year with a visit to Los Angeles—drove home the importance of internships. AMDT students are encouraged to gain as many internship opportunities as possible.

“Students made a lot of good connections,” Pumphrey said. “At every company that they visited, people told them, ‘Look me up, call me, find me on LinkedIn.'”

At Cotton, Inc., students learned about fashion forecasting, while at Elle Magazine, insiders shared marketing concepts.

“At Elle, I was exposed to a whole different side of the industry,” said Brocious. “It made me want to know more.”

At the Nordstrom Photo Studio, students sat in on a photo session with several models. At the Camuto Group and Edelman, students learned about trends, buying and the wholesale industry.

Meeting the fashion designer Steve Madden, and visiting his three-floor studio, students wanted to know how the company founder got his start in the industry.

“They wanted to know how he stays innovative, and what his passion is,” said Pumphrey.

AMDT students with desingers
Meeting footwear designer Steve Madden was a highlight of the 2017 tour.

“The visit with Steve Madden resonated most for me,” said student Jacky Chan.” “He was a regular guy who had a dream and went for it—he’s a very inspirational person.”

On the third day of their trip, a massive snowstorm shut down much of the city, canceling their appointments and prompting a shuffling of the schedule. The students gave up their free day on Wednesday to keep some of their professional visits.

In their limited spare time, the undergraduates visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art and got the chance to visit Chinatown and Little Italy.

“This trip has really made me eager to be a part of such a great industry,” said Kailina Romo, a junior apparel merchandising major. “It sets me apart, because it helped me make connections that give me a better chance of getting my foot in the door when it comes to internships and job opportunities.”