There are many things you can expect to find in Peter Som’s Garment District showroom. Clothing racks are prepared with vividly printed articles of clothing for graceful, towering models. An NYU student is also present, selecting items from the racks and dressing the models. Meet Tori Holbrook, a Gallatin freshman from Los Angeles, Calif. At just 18 years old, Holbrook has a highly coveted internship in the competitive world of fashion.
“One of my teachers messaged me on Facebook this summer and told me that her friend, my [current] boss, was looking for interns,” Holbrook said. “So I emailed her and then interviewed … I ended up getting the job at the end of the interview, which was really exciting.”
However, merely knowing the right people is not enough to come out on top in the fashion industry. Holbrook, who is concentrating in fashion design and entrepreneurship, already has an impressive background. After developing an interest in fashion at 12, Holbrook went on to do her first internship at Nordstrom when she was 14 years old while also designing clothes. A natural designer, Holbrook sold some of her designs to friends for various winter formals and proms.
Now, Holbrook spends her days at Peter Som, where a typical work day consists of welcoming buyers into the showroom, assisting them in their selection process and dressing and undressing the models for review. Smaller tasks include paperwork and organization projects. Holbrook admits that her job is not always easy, and sometimes it is far from the glamorous stereotype that comes with the Peter Som name.
What makes it even more difficult is the fact that Holbrook is still a college student trying to balance school and a social life. How does she do it?
“I do my homework after [work], and that’s where it gets a little rough,” she said. “I try to do whatever I can when I have small gaps of free time.”
Holbrook said it all lies in using time efficiently and multitasking.
“Meals are great times for me to see my friends because I can fit two priorities into the same block of time,” she said.
A schedule as chaotic as Holbrook’s would probably seem intimidating for anyone else, but the hard-working freshman stands undaunted after years of experience and practice.
“I did a lot of internships and extracurriculars in high school, so I’m used to being busy,” Holbrook said. “I wouldn’t have it any other way. I just like to be busy.”
As a veteran intern, Holbrook said most fashion companies care less about a good sense of style and more about a commendable work ethic.
“It would be really hard to get a good fashion internship in New York without prior experience,” Holbrook said. “They just want to know that you are not coming in completely green.”
Despite the long hours and demanding job description, being an intern for Peter Som does reap some enviable rewards.
“The best part of my job is being invited to the show during fashion week,” she said. “I was in the standing section, but I managed to steal a second-row seat.”
But everyone has slip-ups, and Holbrook said hers involved a scary Italian boss whom she could not understand.
“I got him the wrong type of water four times,” she said. “I was shaking by the end. He is terrifying.”
All bosses aside, Holbrook demonstrates determination, talent and intelligence by succeeding as much as she has in a job that is anything but easy.
But she said internships are not always about attending fashion shows and looking fabulous.
“You are there to learn and make everyone else’s lives easier,” Holbrook said.
A version of this article appeared in the Wednesday Oct. 3 print edition. Marina Zheng is a contributing writer. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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