by Ali Eaves, ’11

Edith Vega always thought she’d be an investment banker. With concentrations in finance and international business, a high GPA and a flawless résumé by junior year, she was well on her way to accomplishing that goal.

But while studying abroad in Milan, she took a fashion management class on a whim and fell in love with the world of fashion.

“It’s all about how fashion can be a business, but still be beautiful,” Vega said.

She immediately e-mailed her advisor in the Career Development Center to tell him she had found her calling. During their meeting, he provided her with a binder of literature on the fashion industry and told her to get reading.

So, as her friends in the business school were preparing for internships at accounting firms, Vega was diving in to fashion industry research and tweaking her résumé.

By searching online, she found the perfect internship at Phillips-Van Heusen, a corporation that owns Calvin Klein, Izod, Arrow and Bass, as well as its own licensing rights to companies including Michael Kors, BCBG, Kenneth Cole and DKNY.

After a pre-application, a two-hour phone interview and a stock report, Vega landed an interview. The CDC staff opened the center early so she could use an interview room to meet with Phillips-Van Heusen representatives via Skype.

Her preparation paid off, and last summer, while her peers were crunching numbers in cubicles, Vega was sprinting around Manhattan attending product reviews and fashion shows.

“It was fun to do financial analysis while at the same time picking out colors,” she said. “My superiors started calling me ‘truth squad’ because of how bluntly I’d tell a designer to change an item.”

It wasn’t all glamour, though. If the application process was grueling, the job itself was even more challenging. Vega was part of two major competitions during her internship that focused on in-store marketing and case studies. Her team won both competitions.

Vega was also able to put her foreign language skills and knowledge of international business to good use, speaking French one minute and Portuguese the next. She also independently came up with a plan to expand one of the Phillips-Van Heusen brands into Russia.

But all the hard work paid off.

By December, she was at a fashion-industry charity gala sitting next to the CEO of Calvin Klein, who personally asked for Vega to work in buying for the Calvin Klein brand. As other job offers started pouring in, Phillips-Van Heusen created a rotational program just for her. Starting in June, Vega will begin a four-part rotation working directly under the four presidents of her choice.

“They said they had big long-term plans for me,” Vega said. “I can’t wait to get started.”