My name is Millie Yates and I am entering my fourth year of Fashion design at Ryerson University. My internship in the summer of 2016 was with Abercrombie & Fitch. I worked as a technical design intern for a two-month period with the company.
Having completed a number of small internships, I was unsure of what to expect as an intern with a company as enormous as Abercrombie & Fitch. In my orientation week before I began working with my team, previous interns shared their experiences with us. I was told that the learning curve would be steep, but incredibly gratifying. I found this to be very true over the course of my 8-week internship.
Abercrombie prepared the interns well for work. We spent a couple of weeks familiarizing ourselves with the company and the programs we would be using on a daily basis. I’d never before had an internship in technical design and I remember how nervous I was to begin. Those two weeks of orientation ensured me that I was capable of doing the work ahead and that I would have fun at it, too.
Adjusting to the cycle of production was the first hurdle I would face. I worked largely in Web PLM and Accumark while I was away; the switch from manual to digital pattern-drafting was a huge change but a welcome one. I found I enjoyed the precision of creating patterns on my desktop and liked the organization of PLM. I worked on the Abercrombie Boys’ Graphic Tees and Rugged Knits departments over the course of my internship. I came into the company with very little knowledge about the construction of knits, so I was happy to take on something new.
On a day-to-day basis I had a variety of tasks. Things never got boring at A&F and I rarely found myself doing monotonous or repetitive work. I would measure and assess the quality of samples by fitting them on a form or a live model. I wrote comments to send to vendors and created technical sketches and diagrams in Illustrator. I also had a number of independent projects as an intern; taking a design from sketch pass to fit stage and creating new patterns for upcoming seasons. Technical design was just as challenging and interesting as I’d hoped it would be.
What I appreciated most about this internship was the company’s willingness to give their interns an immersive experience. From day one I felt as though I was a contributing member to my team; at A&F, we shared responsibilities and after a few weeks my team trusted me to do my work independently. This contributed greatly to my growth in technical design. I was very fortunate to have a mentor that both supported and pushed me in my learning (and it didn’t hurt that she was a former Ryerson grad, either). It was her leadership that encouraged me to take on new challenges and I largely have her (and my Boys’ team) to thank for the success of my internship.
My biggest takeaways from my time with A&F are that 1) It is important to try things outside of your comfort zone, because that is where learning happens, 2) To trust your abilities. Ryerson prepares you well for a number of different jobs, and you will be surprised at how much you actually know, 3) Say “yes” as much as possible while interning. Taking initiative will not only impress your boss, but will expose you to new opportunities you might not ordinarily stumble upon, and finally 4) Write everything down!