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Ashley Phillips | Co-op Spotlight

There's no doubt that your first Co-op experience can be nerve-wracking. However, there are a couple steps you can take to make a new city, company, or lifestyle work for you. Sister Ashley Phillips has it down to a science! Follow her on her first co-op journey, and take in all that she's learned so far.


What is your major/minor? Fashion Design

What year are you? Sophomore

What company are you co-oping with? Colony Brands

What is your position? TD/QA Intern

Brief job description: I work primarily with TDs (technical Designers), who run all the fittings on both the plus and misses fit model. I also make the styling corrections needed to ensure the best fit of each garment sold.

Why did you choose the company? I liked how they did not focus on having a standard model fit; they also make garments for plus size, which most times does not receive enough recognition. I find it important to understand fit in all sizes, not just for people who are a size 2.

Where are you located? Monroe, Wisconsin

Coolest thing that has happened on co-op? As of yet I don’t have anything while on the job, but while coming home from the Mall of America, I saw a bit of the Northern Lights! It was cloudy so the sky was just one color-it was insane, everything was purple!

What is your dream job? I don’t have a specific job in mind, but my dream is to study abroad and co-op while overseas (would love to be in Italy). The ultimate dream is to co-op in a small business in Italy, possibly in a dress-making or suit shop.

What is your favorite thing about the city you’re in? How friendly everyone is here! Everywhere you go, even if it's just the grocery store, people are always happy to talk. It's also great how close everything is. If I need to go anywhere it's going to take me no more then 6 min (it’s a love-hate relationship though, cabin fever is real here)

How did you find your living situation (apartment etc)? When I got the job they sent a list of possible places to stay and it seemed like the coolest place to live. It's also really close to work, which is a huge bonus. I knew while I was here I wanted to stay with people and not get an apartment to myself, so I found this house that houses just interns. Another plus is how pretty it is!

How many places have you co-oped? Name the companies. This is my first co-op but I have had other internships that I set up on my own last year. I got to work at Manuel Couture previously.

What do you look for in a potential employer? I always ask myself "what I am trying to get out of it?" "What are the things that I am wanting to learn and do I feel this company will provide those kind of experiences?" Also location can be a big thing for people. I knew I wanted to explore and I was open to going anywhere, so that opens up a lot more opportunities.

Interview tips:

- Relax! They have been in your place too, just take deep breaths

- Get good sleep the night before

- Do research on the company beforehand, understand the industry and understand why you want to work with them. Think about what you want to get out of it

- Be yourself!!

- Ask about company culture. What does the interviewer like most about working there and why did they choose to work there?

- Stay positive and be friendly to everyone, even to the person at the front desk.

Where to search for internships/co-ops? This is one you probably don’t see this a lot, but Instagram! It is a powerful tool to get in touch with companies and designers if you are specifically in the design field. Linkedin is also a great resource. For any one in DAAP, PAL is where you find more of your Co-ops if you don’t find one on your own. Your professors are another great resource since they can help with your search and they probably know about companies that aren't even on the list.

What do you miss the most being on co-op? I miss having more things around me. This town is beautiful but it is tiny. They don’t even have normal grocery stores here. So I definitely miss being able to get certain foods. Also I miss being in a city and having places open late. Everything in this town is closed by 6. Oh, and warmer weather! I got to experience -20 degrees, and guys that is COLD. So cold that cars don’t start, and so cold that it's too hard to breath. So warmer weather would be nice.

Best part about being on co-op? The free time! When I leave work, I leave all my work there so when I get home I can do what I want, which is so different than taking classes. I now have the ability to travel more. Wisconsin is surprisingly really close to a lot of cities-Chicago is only 2.5 hours away, Madison is 1 hour away, and there is this super cute town call Galina only an hour away. I also love being so close to the gym and I have now taken up kickboxing.

What do you do in your free time? In my time after work I usually go to the gym, then I will cook dinner afterward. I might read in the sunroom because the view is something I will miss when I leave. Other than that I might draw or write letters. Cooking dinner here takes forever since we don’t have a dishwasher and we share the space with three other people. Because of that, you have to wait until it's your turn to make dinner.

What I’ve learned:

You learn a lot about yourself while on co-op; it can be uncomfortable at times to be in a new place with no one you know and everywhere you go is so foreign. But try and see the beauty in that, as hard as it can be at times. Take the time to push yourself out of your comfort zone. Think of it this way: you are already feeling uncomfortable, might as well put yourself out there and try something new. I took up kickboxing and got a library card! I don’t normally read but I have found it very relaxing. This was my motto and it helped to get the courage to ask more questions and try more things. You just never know, you might end up loving it. If you don’t, hey that’s okay, you tried something new. It can be super empowering to do what you are afraid of, and those little things will honestly make it easier to face the bigger fears in life. Also try and find one person to connect with. Surrounding yourself with people can really make the difference in a good experience or a bad one. Be easy on yourself though, it can get lonely at times, but don’t dwell on that and stay in your room. Those moments are when you might miss out on a great opportunity. Go out and EXPLORE, you never know what you will find and what's more, you will discover more about yourself.

Contact info:

Phone number: 615-944-0114


Insta: a.n.phillips

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