Did you see it? Simply put there’s two paths Gwyneth can take and with each one her life will be completely different. She chooses one. But is it the right one? Only time will tell, but she will never know what really could have happened if she went the other way.
Upon entering college the big question is always ‘what will you major in?’. Well for me, it’s sort of a funny story.
Growing up I was the girl who wallpapered her room in magazine covers. Not teen magazine heart throb covers, but hard core fashion spreads like the ones styled by Carlyne Cerf de Dudzeele, where models are on motorcycles in Chanel pastel satin ball gown skirts. If you don’t know her work, look it up.
Sure someone had to have put these magazines together, but I had no idea who or how. There was no website to google or anyone to tweet a question to. Back then, you were lucky if you had a good guidance counselor. So I ignored this passion in me and went the more intellectual route of pre-med. I loved Science, but a part of me yearned for the beauty that fashion offered, so I decided I would be a cosmetic surgeon.
At the University of Maryland, I declared my major as Neurobiology and Physiology and sucked up 8am labs 4 days a week for four years. I kept candy corns in my car to keep me awake and sane, because can you believe I didn’t drink coffee in college!? I know. Insanity. By my junior year I took my MCATS (a horror you shouldn’t know from) and then that summer I did a 6 week internship at a local hospital in Long Island. Breaking News: I hate scrubs and those clogs the surgeons wear? OYE. I was depressed. I hated waking up everyday and not having that inspired moment of “who’s the lucky outfit?!”. And that was sort of it.
I called my parents to tell them that I didn’t want to go to Medical school and you can imagine the shock and awe. ”Well Aliza what do you plan to do with your life then?”. (Umm. Umm. Let me get back to you). But something made me flash back to my room as a teenager and all of a sudden it was clear. I wanted to work at a magazine.
So I went to any newsstand I could find in D.C. and snatched up Washingtonian, the one regional magazine that looked promising. I studied the masthead and sent my resume to the Editor I thought best worked on what I would be interested in doing. I ended up getting an internship there in ad sales, which was: not. for. me. But.. .I loved what the people in editorial were doing so I offered to help them after hours and to try and learn the ropes.
After senior year when everyone was plotting their European adventure I decided I needed to buckle down and work on my resume. I needed more “related” experience and sleeping in a youth hostel in Prague was not going to do it. I decided to apply for an internship to my favorite fashion magazines at the time. I decided to focus on accessories and sent my resume to the Accessories Directors listed on each masthead at Vogue, Bazaar and W. Three. Yes that was insane. No that was not even a net, let alone a wide one. No I would not recommend your search be that narrow. But something made me just go for those and I did.
By a miracle, I got an internship at Harper’s Bazaar in the accessories department because quote: “We love that your resume is so well rounded and different”. (Phew). The late Liz Tilberis was the Editor in Chief at the time. She inspired everyone. So to explain the kind of intern I was is simple. I turned on the lights at the office in the morning and turned them off at night. I was a full-time, unpaid, rockstar. I picked dust bunnies out of shoes with bells on. I swept the shoe closet. I organized the accessories in color and material order. You name it, I did it and I made a name for myself.
It was my performance at Bazaar that led my internship supervisor to recommend me for an accessories assistant position at Marie Claire. There, I worked on “calling in” accessories for fashion shoots and you won’t believe whose fashion shoots they were….none other than the iminitable Carlyne Cerf de Dudzeele- the Fashion Director whose amazing spreads used to grace my walls as a teenager.
The way life works is funny. To admire someone’s work when you’re 15 and then work for them when you’re 22 by sheer luck, is pretty incredible. But, after two years at Marie Claire I hit a road block. There were no jobs and unfortunately I had really had outgrown my position. So I did some soul searching and decided that these “PR” people I call every day for accessories seem like they have a good job? Maybe I’ll try PR. Sure enough a position became available at DKNY doing accessories PR and I started here in 1998.
So to make sure we’re all keeping track:
magazine-covered teenage bedroom—-> pre-Med—-> magazine internship—->magazine job—-> PR at DKNY
That’s the thing, none of us do. I went with my gut and I let hard work lead the way to opportunity and then I let opportunity take me where it thought I should go. There is no right path. There are right path(S) and guess what? There are no clocks on these roads…