When global commerce major Annie Rose ’19 was exploring options to fulfill her off-campus experience requirement, she knew that she wanted to combine a continued study of French language and culture with practical work experience, ideally in the fashion industry. There would be no better place for her to land than Paris, France and she did just that spending fall semester in the city of lights through the highly selective Institute for Field Education (IFE). The 18-week program included five weeks of intensive interdisciplinary coursework taught in French followed by a twelve-week full-time internship and independent research project.
After completing courses on French political life and social issues, Rose began her placement as an editorial intern with Kilometre Paris. The sustainable luxury fashion brand is known for its vintage tunics and other garments, each one carefully hand-embroidered with a particular destination in mind and designed for travelers and “life-lovers”.
As an editorial intern, Rose’s responsibilities centered around the story-telling aspect of the brand. She researched unexplored destinations across the globe and prepared content for the “passports” (destination guides) carefully crafted to accompany each unique Kilometre product. She also wrote content for the brand’s newsletter, blog, and other social media outlets and supported fulfillment of orders through the Paris home office. “As a Global Commerce major, I am very interested in cultural differences in the workplace and my internship with Kilometre Paris was the perfect opportunity to experience such differences within the industry that I am passionate about,” said Rose. Reporting to her French supervisor, collaborating with her Swiss fellow intern, and interviewing boutique owners from around the world gave Rose first-hand experience navigating the cultural contexts she has studied in her global focus courses at Denison and IFE. Rose jumped into her internship at full-speed, helping to set-up and manage the brand’s showroom at Paris Fashion Week in just the first week of her placement. “I had to learn about the brand very quickly so that I could explain our story and products to potential clients,” said Rose.
In addition to fulfilling the responsibilities of her internship, Rose spent the final twelve weeks of her semester abroad completing a major research paper centered on sustainable approaches to the luxury fashion industry. “The Global Commerce 201 “Elements of Commerce” class at Denison introduced us to the importance of ethical decision-making in businesses today. I was able to apply the knowledge I gained from this class to my research on the development of the circular and shared economies that have emerged in the luxury fashion industry” Rose shared.
When asked what advice she’d like to share with her peers in the Global Commerce Program about getting the most out of an international internship, Rose stressed the importance of asking questions, anticipating cultural barriers, and gaining confidence in one’s ability with the host language. She also wants her peers to consider the great opportunity that interning for a start-up or smaller organization can offer: “My internship supervisor is the founder of Kilometre Paris; from day one I was given a great deal of responsibility in completing a number of projects for her and at the same time I learned so much about what it takes to run a small luxury label that is trying to reduce its carbon footprint directly from her.”
Rose’s experiences last semester reaffirmed her passion for sustainability and compliance within the fashion industry. She has her eyes set on landing another such internship for the summer. “I’m grateful for the experiences, mentors, and friends I gained through my experience in Paris and would encourage other Global Commerce students to take advantage of the opportunity to intern abroad.”