From The Runway

This senior has the major key to landing that dream fashion internship

Hieu Nguyen | Staff Photographer

Zoe Malliaros has interned at three major fashion houses: Tory Burch, Diane von Furstenberg and Theory.

Not many students can say they have had three killer fashion internships in their purse heading into their final semester at Syracuse University. But Zoe Malliaros, a senior advertising major, has gotten her foot in the door at three renowned fashion houses: Tory Burch, Diane von Furstenberg and Theory.

The Boston native has spent the past four years delving into different sectors of the fashion world. With February ending and Spring Break on the horizon, the season of cold emails, resume touch-ups and interviews will be in full swing as students chase their dream summer internships. With her industry experience, Malliaros knows what it takes to land that internship, how to survive devils in designer clothes and how to be the shining star among a group of interns.

As students prepare to start their research for internships, Malliaros said taking the first step and making contact can be intimidating. If Malliaros’ internships have taught her anything, the advice of standing out in a cluttered email inbox is like the advice of not wearing navy blue and black together — it’s the most important of all.

“Some people will tell you don’t cold email, but I think you should. Be confident,” she said. “As long as you have a great subject line, a great opener and show that you have done your research for the brand — keep it short and sweet, their time is precious.”

As soon as she arrived as a freshman, Malliaros took advantage of the fashion connections the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications offers. She was an assistant fashion stylist and content contributor for Zipped Magazine. Since then, she has moved up to become the fashion director of the magazine. Her experience at student publications was just the foundation to learning the ins and outs of understanding the competitive and innovative fashion industry.

As a sophomore, she took her first leap into the real world of fashion and landed an advertising internship at Tory Burch. The internship gave her a first look into working at a major industry company, and Malliaros said to have that experience as her first stepping stone into her year.

But her biggest breakthrough came in the fall of 2015 when she landed an interview for a public relations internship for legendary fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg as a junior. She encountered typical interview questions, but knew being chosen would land her “the job every girl wanted.” She made sure to prepare for the interview in the best way any prospective intern should —research.

“I think you should definitely know the history of the company,” she said. “Things like creative director, founder and how their ideas were instilled in the brand. Show that you can’t just list off facts, but actually know the brand. … Know what has happened in their past and where they are now.”

After landing the position, she was one of four interns to spend the summer living in New York City working in Diane von Furstenberg’s remote fashion house location in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District. Her job included tracking samples, research and conducting fittings for famous celebrities and models during the biggest weeklong event in the city — New York Fashion Week. From moments with the Hadid sisters to special wardrobe delivery runs to The Weeknd, Malliaros got a taste of the glamorous and exciting aspects that come with working at a major fashion house.

But just like any fashion internship can be, Malliaros’ time at Diane von Furstenberg also got her a rookie introduction like “The Devil Wears Prada” — except this time the film plot turned into her own reality.

“Everyone was right away Anne Hathaway in the movie,” she said. “When I did things right it was treated like it was wrong or it wasn’t this or wasn’t that. They just wanted me to know that I was the lowest on the totem pole.”

Although Malliaros was a little shaken by the experience, it never turned her away from pursuing work in fashion. Malliaros said it should only make you more motivated to keep on smiling, knowing that although the overworked fashion intern may be a true stereotype, it is something that won’t happen everywhere you work in your career.

“What I did was kill them with kindness and even with the dumbest tasks they gave us, I would act like it was my favorite thing to do,” she said. “I knew that although it may be my experience here, across the board it wasn’t this way.”

The end of her internship with Diane von Furstenberg could not have ended anymore perfectly than it did, just like the ending of “The Devil Wears Prada.” While putting up with tears, tribulations and tedious tasks, her bosses could not have said better words about her work. With a lot learned she took her expertise to Theory this past summer and hopes to work with the company in the future.

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