Employers Who Love Us: Abercrombie & Fitch

June 21st, 2011 by Amanda Fondriest
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(Left to right) Randi Prudden, Cierra Cunningham, Jasmine Stewart, and Anna Fowler

Given that more than 50 CCAD alumni are employed by Abercrombie & Fitch, it’s less of a surprise than you’d think to find four just in the company’s knit bottoms division: Anna Fowler (CCAD 2008), Randi Prudden (CCAD 2010), Cierra Cunningham (CCAD 2010), and Jasmine Stewart (CCAD 2006). We couldn’t resist the opportunity for a group interview. But before we talked to them, we had to ask the company why they love working with CCAD grads.

“Abercrombie & Fitch loves going through the recruitment process at CCAD each year,” said Anne Vetta, senior recruiter for design at Abercrombie & Fitch. “We know we can expect to meet well-rounded, talented students from the design programs.  The foundation year at CCAD is truly unique, and we really appreciate the fine artist skills that are developed during that first year.  We also receive amazing support from the Office of Career Services as well as the Institutional Advancement Office, which is crucial.”

Now without any further ado, a word from our alumnae.

Q) What’s it like to work with three other CCAD alumnae?

Jasmine Stewart (JS) It’s great, because you know the skill set of the other person. You know they learned the same things you did, so you know what you can expect from them.

Randi Prudden (RP) That’s the best part about it. They’ve been through the same thing that you have. Just to be like, “Anna, you know how Mrs. Hannan said this, well what does that mean in Abercrombie terms?”

Cierra Cunningham (CC) It’s really cool to walk around A&F’s campus and recognize a lot of faces. It’s less intimidating, and you feel at home because you recognize so many people.

Editor’s Note: We got to experience this first hand. As we were taking our tour of A&F, we walked past soon-to-graduate Jordan Jones, who was interning for the company at the time and finishing up his collection for the Senior Fashion Show.

Q) Why do you think Abercrombie keeps coming to CCAD for employees?

AF) I think it’s that they know we have the skill set, we’re hard workers, and we come out knowing design.

JS) We’re well-rounded. We’re able to be creative. We’re able to work hard. But most importantly, we’re able to talk about our work, which can be intimidating for designers. CCAD makes you talk about your work and explain your ideas, which is very helpful once you get out into the workforce.

RP) When you step into a design role, you’re not just a designer. You’re a part-time merchant, a part-time graphic designer, a part-time critic. You do everything, and I think that Foundation year at CCAD—when you spend all your time learning about so many different things—helps you to develop the confidence to say “yeah sure, the store should be set up this way.” You know how to do interior design work and how it will look and 2D and 3D presentation and everything. As CCAD grads, we’re like, “throw it at us. Come on. We can take it. ”

JS) Right. You come out knowing all the computer programs. You can draw by hand. You can kind of do everything or at least have the foundation to look to.

AF) I think that’s the biggest thing, having that foundation—because you don’t learn industry until you’re in it, but having that foundation is super important and key. I’ve worked with a couple people who were just coming in and weren’t from CCAD, and they didn’t have the same skill set. It’s nice to work with other people coming from CCAD because you’re like, “oh yeah, you know that.”

Q) Each of you designed a four-piece collection for the senior fashion show the year you graduated. Are you going to this year’s event? Are you looking for future coworkers, or just to support your alma mater?

(All four) “Yes, of course, we’re going!”

RP) I’m going back to support the school, but you never know when Human Resources is going to call.

AF) Just to see the final collections. It’s really cool to see people who come in—and maybe they’ve been sewing since they were four or maybe not—but they have that final collection which is such a big accomplishment.

Q) We have several recent graduates heading to Abercrombie for their first “real” job. What would be your advice for them?

CC) Coming from CCAD, you’re taught to work hard, so it is really an easy transition to working here.

JS) Be passionate and work hard—and be open to learning.

AF) Keep an open mind. Everything you learn in school is a great foundation, but you’ll need to hit the ground running because everything changes when you start.

Q) Why do you love your job?

JS) I have been working here for almost five years, and every day is a challenge, and every day is interesting—and I just love it. I am constantly learning every single day.

AF) It’s a fun, casual atmosphere. What we like today isn’t necessarily what we’re going to like tomorrow, which keeps it interesting.

CC) It is just so inspiring to work here.

RP) I think that people are like “oh, it’s Abercrombie & Fitch. You’re not going to be challenged.” But that predetermined idea is completely wrong. You have to be even more creative than normal because you are working within one brand and each thing has to be different than what it was before—and that’s really hard to do sometimes. You have to find other ways to solve problems. It’s challenging, but I look forward to it every day.

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