Latrobe Fashionista Seizes Opportunities in New York and Florence
When Michelle Dickson, of Latrobe, Pa., began her sophomore year at Seton Hill University last fall, she couldn’t have imagined what was in store for her.
But in one year, Dickson, 20, of Latrobe, won an international marketing challenge, secured a summer internship with a New York City fashion designer and will attend Teen Vogue Fashion University in New York City. In the spring, Dickson will study abroad in Florence, Italy, and complete an internship in fashion marketing.
“It’s kind of unbelievable to me,” said Dickson, a 2010 graduate of Greater Latrobe Senior High School, who is majoring in business marketing and human resources at Seton Hill. “I do like to set my mind to things and I like to have goals. I didn’t know how realistic these dreams were but I am achieving them!”
Dickson has long been a fan of fashion.
“I always loved flipping through magazines and looking at different ad campaigns and different editorial things,” she said. “I’ve always loved clothing. I think most girls like clothes but I had an obsession with them.”
Though she learned to sew and even made clothing, Dickson isn’t into the design as much as the ad campaigns and the marketing of a brand.
She also loves New York City. She and her parents, Joanne and Michael, and younger brother, John, have made numerous trips to the Big Apple over the years.
So, with that in mind, Dickson went to Seton Hill’s Career Center at the beginning of the 2011-12 academic year to inquire about any fashion internships in New York City.
It just so happened that DC Design International, David Chu’s newest venture, contacted Seton Hill looking for students interested in an internship.
Through phone interviews and a visit to the company over winter break, Dickson secured her internship.
This past summer, Dickson had the opportunity to work in every department in the company, which is based in a townhouse in Manhattan. “The experience was extremely valuable for me,” Dickson said. Upon completion of her summer 2012 fashion internship at DC Design International in New York City, Dickson volunteered to return during the recent Mercedes Benz Fashion Week, held September 6-13. This experience supplemented Dickson’s spring 2010 studies at the New York City Fashion Tour and Textile Workshop.
Dickson’s work in the New York fashion industry prompted her to apply to Teen Vogue Fashion University in New York City, which will be held from October 19-21. More than 1,500 applications were received from students representing 14 countries. Dickson is one of 500 students selected to participate in the three day fashion and marketing program. She will have the opportunity to participate in classes led by Olivier Theyskens, Nicole Richie, Erin Fetherston and Phillip Lin, among others.
“It will be a once in a lifetime opportunity to hear first-hand from the leading designers in the industry,” said Dickson. “I will participate in six different workshops and learn about marketing and fashion from the best in the business.”
But even from the Seton Hill campus, Dickson has already experienced what it’s like to come up with marketing ideas for a global company.
Dickson was among 20 Seton Hill students to participate last fall in worldwide public relations firm Ketchum’s Mindfire challenge, which is ongoing.
Mindfire is Ketchum’s crowdsourcing initiative in which college students from around the world log on to a secure Web site and are provided with a real Ketchum client’s problem and are asked to come up with ideas to solve it.
“The students get creative and use the skills and courses they’ve taken to solve whatever unique challenge one of Ketchum’s clients might have,” said Douglas K. Nelson, director of the Wukich Center for Entrepreneurial Opportunities, and assistant professor of business, at Seton Hill, who introduced the Mindfire challenge at the University.
Students can see other ideas and can add to and improve them. Ultimately, the client chooses a winner of the challenge and, perhaps with tweaking, the idea could end up being used by the company.
“It gets a fresh infusion of thinking from people who are in the real world who aren’t quite yet in the marketing profession but they’re familiar with communications,” said Seton Hill alumna and trustee Kelley Murray Skoloda, ’86, a Ketchum partner who runs the firm’s global brand marketing practice.
During the first week Dickson participated in the challenge, home-furnishing retailer IKEA was asking for ideas for a promotional event.
She submitted an idea and was surprised with the result.
“I wasn’t really expecting much,” she said. “I thought my idea was good, but I wasn’t expecting to win, so it was really, really neat.”
IKEA sent her a desk lamp for winning the challenge, but the experience, and the addition to her resume, were the most valuable, Dickson said.
Nelson said Dickson’s win was “pretty exciting,” especially since other winners came from Yale, Syracuse, American University, Boston University and Georgetown University.