Internships in the time of COVID-19

Models show off outfits from the collection ‘Blond’ by Blaze Best and Rylie Smith during The Fashion Show 2019 at Iowa State’s Stephens Auditorium.

Sierra Hoeger

From living at home in our high school bedrooms again to making whipped coffee rather than going to Starbucks, it’s no secret COVID-19 has changed what most would consider “normal.”

Before quarantine, students were scrambling to find and secure internships, hoping to gain more career experience over the summer. However, internships this summer were quickly changed as well, diverting from their “normal.” 

Students switched out their business casual attire for their comfiest pajamas, working from the comfort of their home rather than an office building. 

Hannah Mauser, senior in apparel merchandising and design, is interning for Rooted Studios under the direction of Rylie Smith, a recent Iowa State graduate. Rooted Studios is a no waste, sustainable ready-to-wear brand, with emphasis on no-waste macrame. 

Mauser will be focusing on the digital media aspects of Smith’s startup, which will include social media branding, creative projects and incorporate parts of her major and previous experience by helping with some styling as well. 

“It’s definitely going to be different because last summer I was working in a corporate environment in New York City, which is a polar opposite of what this is going to be, because it is a startup company,” Mauser said. “I do feel like everyone at some point should work for a startup because it’s a totally different environment. You do a lot more hands-on work, you get a lot more creative freedom”

Both Mauser and Smith were involved with TREND magazine while Smith was a student at Iowa State, meaning they have the knowledge that they’re able to work well together, even under these unprecedented circumstances. 

“It’s definitely going to be different in the sense it’s not going to be structured and especially now with COVID and everything going on, we’re not going to be meeting in person, every single day is going to be a lot of work from home, which I’ve never done before so in those aspects it’s going to be completely different,” Mauser said. 

Alyssa Brascia, junior majoring in apparel merchandising and design, is interning for D-Ravel, under the direction of Grace Rigdon, a recent Iowa State graduate as well. 

Both Smith and Rigdon were 2020 CYstarters, meaning their startup ideas were chosen out of many applicants to be awarded with funding, advice and expertise from mentors as well as skillset development to help guide them while starting their own business and being a young entrepreneur. 

D-Ravel is a dress and travel service assisting users by providing them with tips about the city they’re visiting relating to what to pack, local places to shop and how to tackle the city like a pro. 

Brascia’s official title is digital and editorial fashion intern.

“With D-Ravel, my daily tasks involve some graphic design to create content for the Instagram and blog, whether it be creating logos, influencer spotlight templates, Instagram story pages and more, I’m enjoying exercising my design abilities through these tasks,” Brascia said. 

This is Brascia’s first internship and she credits the ability to be remote as to one of the reasons she secured the internship with D-Ravel, as she lives in Illinois and Rigdon lives in Iowa. 

While most meetings are held virtually over Zoom rather than in person, Brascia is looking at the silver lining behind it all. 

“There are so many avenues to take in the fashion industry when it comes to careers and I feel so lucky to be gaining experience in times such as these,” Brascia said. “They say the best experiences come from times of hardship and from this summer I can see exactly what they mean.”