Subject: Meet former intern, Amsterdam babe, Tessa.
Name: Tessa Ponjée
Age: 22 years
Location: Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Current occupation: I recently started my first 'real' job in fashion after graduation. At the moment I'm working at Hunkemoller, which is a Dutch lingerie brand. Hunkemoller is seen as the Dutch Victoria's secret as it is number one in the market here and the target group and products are similar to Victoria's Secret. My position here is Buying Administration Assistant (BAA) for the swimwear/accessories department. This is a starters position for recent graduates and above the BAA is the Assistand Buyer (AB) and the Senior Buyer (SB) . This basically means that I am responsible for many assisting tasks. I provide full administrative support to the rest of the buying team in the development and delivery of the swimwear and accessories which needs to meet and exceed customer requirements and which need to deliver the core values of the brand. This includes writing orders, executing sample fits, do quality checks, check labdips, contact suppliers, ensure in-time deliveries, prepare weekly sales meetings, maintaining all administration systems and procedures etc. Therefore, I work together with design, marketing and the technical department on a daily basis to discuss these issues. It's a very administrative position but it does teach me a lot about buying and the entire process, which is super interesting.
Did you go to university? If so, what did you study?
Yes, I went to the Amsterdam Fashion Institute (AMFI) where I studied fashion & management (bachelor). This study is very broad as the first two years are rather technical/production oriented. I was taught how to write a business plan, how to create size specs, flow charts, technical drawings etcetera. The final two years are a flexible program in which you can choose a more specific direction in which you want to dive in. I did a specialization called international production, for which I went to study at the Polytechnic University in Hong Kong for a month and worked for a Chinese tradeshow called Ontimeshow in Shanghai. I mainly helped the tradeshow expand to Europe. The specialization was a very nice experience and I learned to much about the Asian fashion industry. Besides that, I did a minor called visual culture, which was all about fashion photography and film (so something completely different). I had to choose a fashion designer and translate his/her designs into images that told a story at the same time. Besides that, I directed a fashion film for the minor as well, together with 5 fellow students. This too, was based on a designer's collection. For those who are interested, you can find the film here: https://vimeo.com/204337436
This minor was my favorite semester at AMFI because you were allowed to basically do anything you want as long as it had meaning. For my final thesis at AMFI I researched the extent in which Big Data technology can provide brands with fashion trend forecasting.
Have you interned? If yes, where?
Yes, I did 3 internships. 1 At a small boutique in New York called DarlingNYC during which I mostly focused on marketing. Another internship at a Dutch plus size fashion brand called MSmode which was a buying internship and lastly the marketing internship at a tradeshow in Shanghai, which was part of the specialization.
What was a key takeaway from interning?
For me, a key takeaway from interning was it really helps with personal development. Also, I was not very much prepared for the internships I did at my college, so for me everything was new. This showed in the first periods of my internships but also helped me develop my own personality expand knowledge a lot. Interning is different at every company as well. My experience is that in small companies, you get a lot of responsibility and in bigger companies, the tasks are limited to your own department and you have to be very assertive to get more tasks (which you should do!!).
Where do you see yourself in 5 years time? :
In five years time I hope to have a more creative position as I know that is what I enjoy most and what I am best in. Untill that time I want to get experience in the industry by working in different fields in fashion. Setting up my own fashion company has Always been a dream of mine but that is a long-term goal.
One piece of advice to someone who wants to follow in your footsteps:
Do not be afraid you are uncapable of doing something. When I started at AMFI four years ago I was so afraid I couldn't do what was expected from me. This was true. At first. But after a while I noticed that I got better and better in the assignments/tasks that I was given and four year later I feel very confident about my capabilities.
What advice would you give to someone who has no clue what they want to do?
First of all, gain experience in every field of fashion you're interested in by interning at as many companies in as many different positions possible. Do not be afraid to take time to develop yourself as a personality. You are not born as Miranda Priestly from the devil wears Prada, and don't think the entire fashion industry is like that. Take your time, breathe, make embarrising mistakes in front of big crowds and eventually get your dream job in fashion.
One fun fact about you?
Last summer I fell of at least 5 big stages at music festivals. Yes, the crowd was still there. Yes, they all saw.
Where can people find you? @ share your social channels!
Find me on instagram: tessaponjee
LinkedIn: Tessa Ponjee