• Sarah Derrick ’18, left, stands with Kelsey Stahlnecker ’21, right, at New York Fashion Week.

September 11, 2019

A mention of New York Fashion Week conjures up images of slender models strutting down the runway as crowds of fabulously dressed celebrities gaze on.

Behind this perfectly produced scene are seven Susquehanna University students who seized a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to intern during fashion’s biggest week.

“Every day something new and crazy was going on,” said Jill Pace, a luxury brand marketing and management major from Branchburg, N.J. “I was all over the place the entire week I was there, but I still had so much fun the entire time.”

All seven interned as venue assistants, which gives them the opportunity to learn about fashion show production and venue set-up, including backstage dressing rooms and front-of-house seating arrangements. Venue assistants also set up hair and makeup stations, assist with backstage check-in, guest flow and venue tours. Some also assist public relations teams with seating guests and dressing models for shows.

Paige Koba ’20, left, and Kassi Jata ’20, right, at New York Fashion Week.

Valuable, Real-World Experience

Pace has always been a lover of fashion, but Kelsey McGuggart jumped at the NYFW opportunity due to her interest in event planning. Although her lack of fashion knowledge at first felt like a shortcoming, McGuggart soon found her event management skills in high demand.

“I was the only venue assistant in my shifts who knew about event planning, which allowed me to assist in different ways,” McGuggart, a strategic communications major from Bethpage, New York, said. “I helped create a system for storage of materials needed for the gallery sets and helped the designers’ PR teams designate jobs to our team.”

Maia Morrone ’22, a luxury brand marketing and management major from Williamsport, Pennsylvania, was one of the youngest interns there – a fact that made her work even harder, especially when she was given the opportunity to work the Moschino fashion show.

“I had the privilege of meeting the designer and while I was working hair and makeup, I was able to be around top models such as Lily Aldridge and Candice Swanepoel,” Morrone said. “The whole experience was surreal. I always dreamed of working with large and well-known shows and this was the perfect way of getting my foot in the door.”

Alumni Connection Leads to Fashionable Opportunities

All seven students landed their internships thanks to Sarah Derrick ’18, who works as a production assistant at LDJ Productions, the onsite production company for IMG’s New York Fashion Week. Derrick started as a summer intern at LDJ and loved her experience so much that she reached out to SU’s Career Development Center when internship opportunities arose for fashion week.

“When I heard we were hiring venue assistants for fashion week, I wanted to extend the invite to Susquehanna students and our interview team was blown away by their resumes and interview skills,” Derrick said. “Interning on LDJ’s Show Team introduced me to New York Fashion Week. Without that first experience I wouldn’t have found my passion within my luxury brand marketing and management major and I wanted others to experience it too.”

Though they loved the energy of the fashion shows and the excitement of celebrity-spotting (Gigi Hadid, Heidi Klum, Katie Holmes, G Easy, Offset and Quavo, just to name a few) they also appreciated how their work in the classroom provided the perfect foundation for their fashion week experience.

“The fundamentals of luxury brand marketing revolve around exclusivity and experience,” said Paige Koba ’20, a luxury brand marketing and management major from Toms River, New Jersey. “New York Fashion Week and the runway shows are the perfect example of executing these fundamentals as NYFW serves as a marketing event for designers to display their newest collections to their most exclusive clientele.”

“It was such an incredible experience seeing the ins and outs of a fashion show and how they all come about,” said Kelsey Stahlnecker ’21, a luxury brand marketing and management major from Watsontown, Pennsylvania.

Other SU students interning this week are Kassi Jata, luxury brand marketing and management, of Smithtown, New York; and Ashley Kopchak, strategic communications, of Easton, Pennsylvania.