Senior fashion industry management student Brittany Lease wakes up at 4:45 a.m. each Monday and Wednesday and boards a bus for New York. Two to five hours later, depending on traffic, she arrives in New York and heads to 34th Street and 10th Avenue to work as an intern at Coach, Inc., the international upscale leather goods company.
Lease started at Coach in June 2011 as a summer intern, and was able to extend her stay in the company’s costing department through the fall semester at PhilaU. She also works at the Coach retail store in King of Prussia, Pa., on the weekend, in addition to taking a full day of classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays on campus. “I do have Fridays off,” she said with a smile.
Lease learned about the internship at Coach while working at the retail store. She applied in February, was interviewed in March and heard back from the company about a month later. Lease was one of 93 applicants selected for the job, out of more than 2,000 applicants each year.
Working in the costing department, which is responsible for innovating cost saving solutions for Coach and its partners, was her top choice for her internship, and she joined a staff of 24 plus one other intern for the summer. Her first week at Coach, she sat in on a meeting with Kristin Michaloski, the designer behind Coach’s “Kristin” line of handbags that Lease was selling in her retail job. “It all came full circle for me,” Lease said. “I went from selling Kristin handbags to, wait, there’s Kristin.”
In the costing department, Lease helped analyze the price of raw materials that could be used in a product to meet both the aesthetic intent of the designer and the profit margin dictated by the company. In a high profile, international business such as Coach, even a penny saved can be significant.
Lease said she had some knowledge of costing through a class taught by associate professor of fashion industry management Natalie Nixon, but she has learned a lot while working at Coach. In particular, she learned about Coach’s supply chain management and its relationship with cross-functional partners. One of Lease’s goals is to travel abroad to better understand the culture in China and other Asian manufacturers.
When her summer internship ended, Lease applied for and was accepted as a fall intern at Coach. “Never stop pursuing what you want to do,” she said, when asked what advice she would give students seeking internships. “I tried all sophomore year to get an internship but it didn’t work out,” she said. “That experience helped prepare me for my junior year when I was finally able to get one.”
Based on her experience at Coach, Lease would like to learn more about international business and is considering pursuing an MBA after she graduates. For now, though, she will continue commuting to N.Y., and learning all she can both at her internship and PhilaU.