When Abby Anderson ’19 was a freshman, she and her two friends, all fashion merchandising majors, always dreamed of traveling to London and Paris. This past February, Abby stood atop the Eiffel Tower on her birthday drinking champagne!
“It was the best birthday ever,” Anderson states with residual glee. “It was the one thing that we always talked about. Finally we said, ‘Why not?’”
If Anderson has a motto or philosophy about life, perhaps it would be “why not?” Thus far, this philosophy has proven quite effective. Graduating from St. Thomas More Academy in Delaware, Anderson arrived at Immaculata wanting to pursue a career in fashion. At the time, she was more interested in fashion design, but, as she continued through the program and was exposed to what is referred to as “the business side of fashion,” Anderson began to envision a career for herself as a buyer.
Fashion Merchandising majors at Immaculata have the opportunity to complete at least two internships before they graduate. Anderson spent last summer in Boston participating in an internship for The TJX Companies, the parent company of T.J. Maxx, Marshalls, Home Goods, Homesense and Sierra Trading Post. Anderson was on the planning and allocation team for the juniors division at T.J. Maxx. Her internship experience was different than most because she was far from the comforts of home and Immaculata and was living in a dorm room with three other interns at Northeastern University. As one of only two drivers among the group, Anderson rotated driving duties into Framingham, Mass., headquarters for TJX, which was about an hour’s drive from the Boston campus of Northeastern University. However, instead of dreading the daily commute, Anderson embraced it.
“It was really cool. I got to drive past Fenway everyday….I saw the Green Monster every day,” she says. “It never got old.” With her “why not” attitude, Anderson spent that summer gaining valuable experience within the retail fashion industry and learning about herself in the process.
During her senior year, Anderson secured a coveted internship with Chester County-based QVC. Serving as a buying intern for fine jewelry, Anderson was able to witness the purchasing suggestions that she provided have an actual impact on sales and market trends. “You can see how the customer responds to it—it’s interactive and rewarding,” she says. Quality assurance duties were another large component of her internship.
Making an impression with her work ethic and skills, Anderson was invited back to continue her QVC internship during her last semester. For her second stint at QVC, Anderson was assigned to the buying team for Lori Grenier, from TV’s Shark Tank. Anderson explains that when Grenier makes investments on Shark Tank, she brings them to QVC. The items run the gamut from jewelry to shoe accessories.
From her own personal experience, Anderson recognizes how important it is for students to connect with their professors. She acknowledges that the fashion industry is very competitive and graduates need as much professional experience as possible. She credits an Immaculata faculty member, Maureen DiSimone, for helping secure her summer internship in Boston. “She was a big reason I got connected with that internship,” Anderson says. She appreciates the support that the Immaculata faculty provide to the students outside of the classroom such as sending them job openings, writing recommendations, networking with the students and being easily accessible.
Another example of the support the faculty offer students is when Anderson had an important interview scheduled with an e-commerce division for a national company on the West Coast; the interview could lead to a dream career with a national company. Lina Castro, director of the Fashion Merchandising program, met with Anderson to go over her resume and interview techniques before the big day.
Shortly after interviewing, Anderson was offered the job—for a national company on the West Coast.
It is no wonder that Anderson and her classmates feel as though the fashion department is one big supportive family. Some of her fondest memories revolve around the annual Immaculata Fashion Show, which Anderson has participated in every year. She admits that running the show is as chaotic as one might imagine. This year, she took a supporting role by helping a friend model one of her designs—and making cookies for the event. She looks back on her four years with admiration and a little surprise at how much she has grown as a person. Anderson is the perfect example of making the best of the college experience.
“Be open for every opportunity that comes your way,” Anderson states.
Hey, why not?