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Cooperative Education in UL - The Perfect First Step to my Dream Career

Living in New York and working for the luxurious fashion brand Fendi has been a dream come true for me, and a world away from my student life in Limerick. As a third year Business and French student, the obvious choice of destination for my Coop would have been Paris or Biarritz, etc. Nevertheless, I set my sights on The Big Apple. Taking the chance, I sent in my CV and was ecstatic to learn I had been accepted for the internship of my dreams. Working with Fendi has been the key I needed to unlock endless doors of opportunities for my career.

As I was majoring in Marketing and intended to pursue a career in digital marketing, this experience so far has been nothing short of challenging, exciting and unforgettable. As you can imagine, my first day at Fendi was terrifying. Would I be nothing more than the character in ‘The Devil Wears Prada’, carrying out mundane tasks like photocopying and coffee runs? Fortunately, I had no reason to worry as I was quickly thrown into the thick of things in the PR and Marketing department. My tasks were less mundane and more memorable, as I was often involved with providing outfits for top magazine photoshoots. One of the looks I pulled for actress Mila Kunis, landed on the cover of Allure Magazine. Luck of the Irish some might say!

I’ve also pulled looks for a number of other celebrities, including Jessica Alba, Edward Norton and Diane Lane. We held a PR event in March called ‘Fendi Venetian Heritage’, which was a fantastic experience. Originally, Richard Gere and Uma Thurman were set to host it but when they pulled out last minute I was disappointed. My dreams did come true though when I met Richard Gere at another work related event. Instead of playing it cool as planned, my nerves got the better of me, I was star struck. I turned into a giggly school girl, hanging on his every word, forgetting all about the ‘Pretty Woman’ I had planned to be. I had a brilliant time in New York.

In addition to my internship, I have gone skiing, been to an Oscar nominated movie premiere, attended the iconic ‘bell ringing’ at the New York Stock Exchange on Wall St, met Diane Von Furstenberg during New York Fashion Week, and even been invited to the set of ‘Law & Order SVU’. It may sound like everything panned out perfectly for me and I had the dream Coop but do not mistake me - it took a lot of planning and hard work! The move to New York was extremely daunting, especially doing it alone and knowing absolutely no one. Even applying for internships in these fashion houses took a lot of research and ‘jumping through hoops’.

Ultimately, I learned so much during my Coop. From a career point of view, it has definitely pointed me in the right direction. Marketing is such a broad area and through this experience I learned which career route I would like to take. I have also learned how huge fashion houses operate and key skills that will help me in my future career. Like most other large cities, there is a huge Irish population in New York, most of whom are eager to extend a helping hand. I’ve attended various Irish-run events here and met amazing people. I cannot fault the Irish here for their courtesy. Another thing I’ve learned from the experience is how important it is to push yourself outside your comfort zone. If I had never thrown myself into the deep end I would still be at home drowning in the boredom of the same routine, and no closer to my dream career. I believe that living abroad forces you to push your boundaries and to be more open minded - which is the biggest thing I will take from this experience.

My advice to anyone even considering it is to ‘go for it!’ It has been the best experience of my life and with a little hard work, it isn’t as unobtainable as one might imagine!

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About the author

Alice Carroll is a BBS Business graduate of UL, having majored in marketing. Alice undertook her co-op work placement in New York, on an internship with Italian Fashion house Fendi. 

After her degree, Alice was accepted to the highly renowned Jameson Graduate Programme and was based in Toronto. Having gained experience in trade marketing, innovation and brand development in Australia, America, Canada and France, Alice is currently working with Wilson Hartnell (WH) based in Dublin, Ireland as part of the consumer brands team.

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