When public relations senior Kaitlyn Keele began her college career, she knew three things: she knew she wanted to score an internship in a big city; she knew she wanted a job where she could interweave fashion, communication and writing; and she knew she’d have to hustle to make it in the highly competitive field of fashion PR. Now, she’s doing all that and more at her summer internship.
Keele is a VIP PR intern at Purple Public Relations — a company specializing in distributing clothing items to celebrities and other high-profile clientele, as well as acting as a middleman between the media and the general public for these highly sought-after pieces.
“For my internship, I help the stylists find items that they need for the event, help log everything, look at media lists and see who’s talking about certain clients,” Keele said. “As time goes on, my supervisor said I will start doing more writing, reports and media lists and I will be able to work one-on-one with some of the clients, which is super cool.”
Keele works for the company’s Los Angeles office, which meant uprooting her life in pursuit of her ambitions.
“When I’m at school, my family is within an hour of me, so it’s definitely different having them all the way across the country,” she said. “Michigan isn’t really the place for fashion PR, so I know that my job will require me to move to another state. Having this experience will help me understand if that’s what I want to do with my life.”
Aside from becoming more acquainted with the field, working in L.A. certainly has other perks–brushing shoulders with celebrities being just one of them.
“Keke Palmer’s stylist came in and Hannah Brown from ‘The Bachelorette,’ her stylist came in,” she said. “Richa Moorjani from ‘Never Have I Ever’ even came in for the premiere of her show.”
Not only did Keele take a leap of faith by moving to a completely different state for her summer internship, she also ventured into the unknown when choosing her major.
“PR just became a major in 2020, so my grade level was the first class to have that option,” she said. “I love making connections and relationships with people, so I found public relations to be the best course of action for me. The more classes I’ve taken, the more I’ve loved it and known that it was the right choice for me.”
Though Keele found an internship well-suited to her career goals, it did not come without hard work and ample research of the fashion PR industry.
“I was very consistent about getting in contact with [employers], which I think really helped,” she said. “I expressed interest early. For lots of internships, you don’t actually apply until February or March, but I would reach out in the fall and tell them that I was interested so I wasn’t just a random application on their desk. It showed I was interested and that I wasn’t just doing it to get a job, but that I actually wanted to be there. That made me stand out.”
One of the things Keele is most excited about is bringing the skills she’s learned in the classroom to the cubicle, or in her case, the runway.
“I have never been put head-on into something as fast-paced as the fashion industry,” she said. “It’s ever-changing and not a 9-5 job. I hope to be quick on my feet and able to adjust when needed. I want to hone in on my writing skills. I’m excited to work on those skills in the real world instead of just college.”
Throughout Keele’s entire years-long journey of research, internship hunting and making the move to California, one lesson has consistently reigned true.
“What I’ve learned is the importance of making connections,” she said. “If you just submit an application, that doesn’t guarantee employers will even consider or look at you. Making connections, getting your name out there and showing that interest and drive is super important. It will make you stand out amongst other candidates.”
— Stella Govitz