LIM College Maintains ‘Usual Calendar’ For Fall, Reimagines Internship Program

As businesses in New York City work to fully recover from the coronavirus outbreak, schools and colleges are returning to class in the city with a variety of measures to maintain the health and safety of students. For LIM College, this means maintaining its fall calendar while creating a safe environment for students. And for internships, the school is launching a new program model aimed at enhancing the careers of students during these unprecedented times.

Here, Lisa Springer, LIM College provost, and Nina Fiddian-Green, assistant vice president of The Office of Career and Internship Services at LIM College, discuss fall plans the internship program.

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WWD: What will campus life look like in the Fall?

Lisa Springer: COVID-19 has transformed the way we teach, learn, and gather. As we plan for the fall, we understand that flexibility and resiliency will be key to our success. LIM College is actively preparing for a fall semester like no other. We have decided to maintain our usual calendar, beginning the Fall 2020 semester on September 8 and ending on December 18. We will maintain this schedule if federal, state, and local requirements and guidelines permit us to do so.

As we plan our return, we are mindful of protecting the safety and well-being of our community. This is a shared responsibility, and every member of our community must do their part to keep each other safe.  New measures such as submitting a negative COVID-19 testing before coming back to campus, social distancing, the use of face masks, enhanced cleaning protocols, and health assessments will be our ‘new normal.’

WWD: What will classes look like?

L.S.: In Fall 2020, students in on-campus programs will be able to choose between one of two hybrid modalities. All courses will include face-to-face interaction (synchronous) as well as assignments via Canvas (our online learning management system) that take place on the student’s own schedule (asynchronous). Our students can decide if they prefer the face-to-face interaction to take place in-person in a classroom on campus or via Zoom. This means that students have the flexibility to create a schedule that is exclusively Hybrid In-Person, exclusively Hybrid Virtual, or combines Hybrid In-Person and Hybrid Virtual courses.

While not all courses will be offered in all modalities, any student who wishes to study exclusively in a Hybrid Virtual modality is guaranteed a schedule which does not delay their graduation. We want to ensure that any student who is not comfortable returning to campus for any reason is able to continue their academic journey uninterrupted.

WWD: What are you doing to promote career success?

L.S.: In the 80-plus years since we were founded, the world has changed considerably, and we’ve faced many challenges. It’s how we respond during times of challenges that demonstrate the resiliency and strength that will carry us forward. As a pioneer in experiential education, LIM provides master’s, bachelor’s and associate degrees in an educational environment that has adapted to changing technologies and global marketplace.

This approach, firmly rooted since our founding, is even more relevant today. In Fall 2020, the Office of Career and Internship Services will collaborate with the Office of the Provost to innovative new ways for students to continue to develop their skills and enhance their resume even during this unprecedented time. This proactive approach augments career readiness by blending real-world experience with a rigorous liberal arts and business curriculum, empowering students to realize their potential and prepare for successful careers in the business of fashion and related industries.

WWD: What will internships look like in Fall 2020?

Nina Fiddian-Green: There has never been a year quite like this. In this extraordinary time, some substantive internships are moving to Zoom, and some are being canceled. The pause and the pivot of internships and jobs have understandably caused concern for our students and recent grads. For Fall 2020, our challenge is to ensure our students complete their internship and co-op experiences on time for degree completion, build their networks, and develop lifelong employability for a digital world. Typically, internships serve as a pathway for students to successfully make the transition from college to career. Along with subject matter expertise in the business of fashion, internship experiences enable students to learn and develop their career readiness.

For employers, internships enable companies to look beyond traditional predictive factors, such as major or GPA, to identify, recruit and hire top talent and build leadership pipelines. To match the rapidly evolving workplace, the Office of Career and Internship Services (CIS) has reimagined the curricular and co-curricular career education program, enabling all students to complete their internship and co-op experiences regardless of how our industry partners respond to COVID-19.

Even though the Fall semester will look different as the impact of the pandemic lingers, LIM students will still have a robust experiential career education experience. By integrating the curricular and co-curricular aspects of student life, and aligning academic and personal interests with career opportunities, our new Fall 2020 experiential career education program — Fashion Forward — will help our students better prepare to become fashion’s next generation of business leaders.

WWD: How will Fashion Forward prepare students for changing jobs?

N.F.-G.: Fashion Forward is an industry-focused, project-based career development experience that delivers a robust and meaningful career development experience with or without a traditional internship. Fashion Forward delivers a sequential pathway of five career education courses that impart the knowledge, experiences and skills students need to complete their career education requirements, regardless of how the industry responds to COVID-19. In lieu of the hours a student would normally spend at an internship site, Fashion Forward blends academics, real-world experiences and industry connections. to explore career paths, job shadow, grow the skills and habits of mind to launch and lead a meaningfu
l career in the business of fashion.

From day one, students will take part in experiential career-building learning activities to explore their futures, design their personal brand, build their job search toolkit, network like it’s a job, navigate a digital interview, build new mindsets, create professional relationships, experience a “day in the life,” pitch themselves to hiring managers with confidence, and develop career competencies that align with their academic plans, and successfully prepare for a career in the business of fashion and beyond.

While the number of substantive internships available has slowed, the curricular and co-curricular Fashion Forward experience uses design thinking principles to equip students with the tools to turn real-world challenges into future-focused solutions, express ideas in new ways, adapt to changing skills, reach shared goals, and grow with kindness and resilience.

WWD: What companies are involved with Fashion Forward?

N.F.-G.: Fashion Forward provides our industry partners with an experiential recruitment framework to position themselves as a future employer and provides a pathway to building a talent pipeline by building a next-generation student network. To help students develop their digital job search skills and build connections with peers, alumni, and industry leaders, this unique virtual program includes weekly industry mentoring, speed networking, career development, and career coaching.

During the pilot program this summer, programming featured small group “Ask a Mentor” and “Ask a Recruiter” networking events, one-on-one mock interviewing and resume critiques by industry partners. Guest speakers and companies included: 24 Seven, Pyramid Consulting, Solomon Page, John Varvatos, Shiseido Americas, Giella Cosmetics, Leon Max/Max Studio, Meow Minimart. Guest speakers include LIM Alumna Luisa Herrera-Garcia, Senior Vice President of Production at John Varvatos; LIM Alumna Yasmine Samatali, who shared her personal tips on how to get into Luxury Public Relations; Robert Bronstein, former President of Leon Max, who provided one-on-one resume reviews; Nicole Pizaro, the Senior Photo & Film Producer at Shiseido Americas; Kari Hansbarger, Digital Brand Director for Giella Cosmetics.

For Fall 2020, our industry partners and alumni at companies such as Cartier, Century 21, Chanel, Chloe, Fashion Snoops, Kate Spade, Seat Geek, Hamilton Jewelers, Hearst, Icer Brands, IHKWIP, John Varvatos, Licensing International, Louis Vuitton, Macy’s, Marimekko, Meijer, Mercado Global, OkCupid, PAVE, PetFlow, Shiseido, Twitter, Vera Bradley, Vogue, Zola, and more will be coming to our virtual classroom to inspire our students to succeed in the business of fashion.

They will offer career advice, share their career story, host job shadowing, career mentoring, speed networking, project-based assignments, service-learning or provide access to internships and other opportunities. For example, Harry Cunningham, vice president of retail brand experience for Vera Bradley, will bring his virtual showroom team into the classroom to inspire students about the future of careers, brands and companies in the business of fashion and beyond.

LIM College alumni Baylen Edwards-Miller (’19) and Anthony Nota (’19) who recently launched a brand called IHKWIP, creating products that serve as personal protection equipment (PPE) while also being fashionable, will come into our classroom this Fall to talk with students about entrepreneurship.

The semester will culminate on December 8-9 at Fashion Forward LIVE, a digital career extravaganza where students will showcase their ideas and talents to the industry. While the Fall 2020 semester will most certainly look and feel different as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic lingers, we remain committed to serving students in their journey to becoming tomorrow’s leaders in the business of fashion.

WWD: What can the fashion industry do to help LIM College students with their experiential education?

N.F.-G.: We are calling on our community to offer advice or provide opportunities for our students. You can lend your support by offering career advice, sharing your career story, hosting job shadowing, career mentoring, project-based learning, and other work-based learning or job opportunities for our students. For more information, please contact the LIM College Office of Career and Internship Services at [email protected]