6 years ago I packed 2 suitcases, sold everything else I got and moved to NYC, want to use my own story to show how it’s done.
Don’t be afraid to fail because you will
I got a fashion internship from a school internship program back in Ohio. With that big dream come true feeling I told mom and dad I will start my designer journey in NYC… 2 weeks later I got fired because “we don’t like that Asian girl, she’s too green and her English is extremely poor” and the advice I got from the design director was” you’re pretty enough, go visit some places in the city like Madison square garden and maybe u will find some rich guy to marry you”… here I have spent all my savings on the flight to NYC and deposit on rent, I’m unemployed with no family no friends in the city…
Don’t run away, don’t hide, ask for all the help you can when things go wrong
Trust me, you don’t want to get in trouble in NYC, because it can be quite scary. But the worst thing is letting your ego gets in your way. Perhaps the worst feeling is telling my mom that I got fired after she told me” I’m proud of your daughter I wish you success” and of course, my friends, my school. My school didn’t answer for days then sent some other student to replace me at my old internship…I got on Craigslist, indeed, internship groups on Facebook. Everything I can to keep me from going home.
The network is really that life-changing important
One day a random girl I run into in the elevator who happen to ask me how was my day is an intern at Anna Sui. I only run into her once before and smiled told her I like her style. She actually helped me got me my next internship at her company, which is my favorite designer. I still remember the day she told me try reviewed my resume and decided to hire me, I cried and she cried too because she saw how happy I was. She’s now my best friend for past 6 years
Take internship seriously, like you’re going to work there for the rest of your life
The biggest turning point of my career is working with the incredible team of Anna Sui. Maybe one big reason is I feel extremely grateful for having the chance to work and stay in NYC, I’m always looking forward to going, do my best, help whenever I can, if they need someone to come in on weekend I happily come in. If you’re proud to work somewhere and you care, trust me. Everyone knows. My bosses from Anna Sui still my good friend 6 years later, to me, feels more like family. One of the pattern maker introduced me to a professor at FIT, one of the best fashion design school in the world during fashion week, and get me thinking maybe I should apply there.
Something happens against your moral, walk away
As I mentioned my school wasn’t helping me in my situation and actually allowed some company fires me as “that Asian girl” I made the decision to apply for FIT. I was straight A student at the school, even though the FIT is extremely competitive. I took a risk not going back to my old school, it’s simple, I rather lose my degree than paying for somewhere I am not proud of.
Get a job that can pay your bills and apply for your dream school
So I got on the waiting list of FIT. Because of the high expense in NYC, I had to get a job. Restaurant job is perhaps the easiest job to get at the time and I can continue working if I get in school. So again Craigslist, indeed, post on Facebook…. but not the best way for that kinda job. I took my mom’s advice every morning, every lunch break, every evening I go restaurant to restaurant ask if they’re hiring. I fill in many forms, insist to talk to managers, even tho I have no experience and was only hoping to start as a host, I got my first job as a bartender. So if u show people you’re positive, willing to learn, willing to work hard someone will give you a chance
You will find getting in your dream school is not that out of reach
I got accepted at FIT. After 6 months waiting, I received the letter, exactly what I wanted. Fashion Design at the top 5 design school in the world.
Find housing that’s affordable
I lived in an all-woman dorm my internship recommended the Website Apartments. it’s great for young girls first moving to NYC because it’s safe, easy to make friends, great location( 34th 9th ave 10 mins walk to Empire State Building and garment district) breakfast, dinner and housekeeping included. But it’s $1300/month. Still cheap for New York. But with school and work, I need to cut rent down. Luckily one of the girls I talk to at Webster recommended a very cheap place owned by a church, called Jeanna d’Arc Residence. It’s about $700/month and great location (24th 8th ave) it’s all woman dorm, not great interior but close to FIT. Interviewing process is very long, lots of references needed but I finally got in after 7 months wait.
Once you feel like it’s all together, it’s only the beginning
So got in a dream school, worked at a bar which makes good money, moved in cheap place lower the cost of living, is life getting easier after? Obviously not. But it’s more exciting more challenging more accomplishing every day. You will feel like life just getting started and each day you feel more and more alive…
I will continue writing about how to be a star student at design school, how to balance work school and all those temptations the city has to offer, how to make the best of your free time in NYC and how to get a fashion design job in this cut-throat industry after school.
Follow my journey if you’re one of the dreamers like me.