The following interview was conducted with with LIM alumna Sze Qi Tan, Bachelor of Business Administration in Fashion Merchandising, Class of 2018.
The shifting global business landscape, from an increase in professionals working remotely to E-commerce business models, is profoundly impacting the way we work, and this includes internships.
Remote internships offer more flexibility and opportunities for students that may be constrained by monetary, geographic, or medical factors. I spoke with international alumna Sze Qi Tan about her Senior Co-op styling and merchandising internship experience, which led to a full-time styling position post-graduation. Sze Qi interned at Fashom, which she stated is, “an app and website styling service that delivers personalized outfits—hand-selected by stylists—to your doorstep.”
Eurydice Sanchez: Were you specifically seeking a virtual internship?
Sze Qi Tan: I found this position through Symplicity. I had never heard of this company and didn’t know at first that it was an online company. I became really intrigued with the company during my interview as the way they operate is different from many other fashion companies. I also think virtual styling is a new and unique concept for this industry.
ES: What did the position entail? And was it structured similarly to an on-ground internship?
SQT: Since it is a small company, I experienced many different areas, from merchandising to marketing. Outside of selecting customers’ clothing from our vendors, I had the chance to create marketing content related to current fashion trends for our Instagram and blog posts. I also researched pricing, comparing new vendors with current vendors. I would touch base with my supervisor every week along with all the other stylists and receive feedback about my work.
ES: Please describe any challenges you encountered working remotely, compared to on-ground.
SQT: The main difference between working online and working on-ground was communication. Communicating with your colleagues can be challenging because you rarely see them face-to-face. At this company, everyone logs in to a video calling platform to speak to each other, so you have to be very detailed when communicating as some tasks might be confusing for others.
ES: What was the benefit of working virtually?
SQT: Flexibility. I worked mostly from home and only went to the office once every two weeks, which was a co-working space in Grand Central. As I was working from home, there were no train, bus, or weather problems to worry about.
ES: How did this role position you to achieve your career goals?
SQT: My future career goal is to become a buyer. Working at Fashom helped me to learn more about the customer experience as buying is about understanding and anticipating customers' wants and needs in order to select the right merchandise for them.
ES: What advice do you have for students considering interning virtually?
SQT: Although working online is flexible, punctuality is very important for interns. Lateness is not forgivable as you have no excuses. Even more so, you have to be responsible and self-motivated because there is no one to guide you and check on you all the time. Also, if you have any questions or confusion, do not hesitate to ask your supervisor. My final advice is to be hardworking as your supervisor will notice it eventually. When it comes to hiring for full-time positions, they will think about you first.
ES: Final thoughts?
SQT: I enjoyed working for a virtual company and as technology advances, this might be the future of this industry, with everything being done online. Here's to wishing everyone the best of luck for a bright and prosperous future!