USF Interns Experience Life in the Big City

Tampa, Fla. (Sept. 17, 2014) - University of South Florida seniors Ali Pruitt and Nikolas Alfonso didn’t spend their summer break lounging around the beaches of Tampa Bay, instead they spent their summer interning amongst the hustle and bustle of New York City. Pruitt, who interned at Jill Stuart, and Alfonso, a J.P. Morgan intern, are both excited to bring back their experiences to the USF classroom and use it as a stepping-stone to hopefully return to NYC after graduation.  



Ali Pruitt at Jill Stuart in NYC.

Ali Pruitt - Intern for Jill Stuart in NYC


What is your major and class standing at USF?


I am a senior mass communications major with a concentration in public relations. I will be graduating in December 2014.


How did you secure your internship at Jill Stuart?


I reached out over Facebook about information on fashion contacts. A family friend said she could connect me with her son's fiance who works in the fashion world. I connected with her and she forwarded me to Jill Stuart's PR director. After a quick email with my resume, I had a phone interview which led to my internship.


What are some changes you have experienced living and working in another state?


Living in NYC is completely different than my hometown of Sarasota. It truly is the city that never sleeps. I typically wake up at 8 a.m. because it takes an hour on the train from where I live in Brooklyn to my office in Times Square. I'm always at the subway platform by 9 a.m. Living here can be very expensive so you have to learn how to manage your money wisely. For example, our office provides us drinks so instead of buying a $3 soda at a restaurant, I always make sure to grab a drink before I head off to lunch. NYC has amazing hidden deals too. There are free performances almost every night, great deals on food (like $1 pizza), and special days where the museums are free. One thing that I really had to get used to was transit time. In Florida, I have my car and it is easy to determine how quickly I am going to make it. In NYC, the subway can have days where it's really fast or really slow. If I am going somewhere that I know it is absolutely essential to be on time, I make sure to give myself 30 minutes extra than however long the map says it will take. Also, having an external battery for your cellphone and bringing your charger with you up here is a must.


On average, how many hours do you work each week?


I typically work 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Tuesday through Thursday, which is 27 hours per week.


What does a typical workday look like for you?


My usual work day starts out with me opening our office, I double check the packages that we received and deliver them out. I check our showroom to ensure it looks presentable to stylists and editors that may come by. I check our social media pages to see if we gained followers, discover which posts are getting action and to respond to our followers. I am also given various projects such as updating our masthead books with the most recent ones from the latest issue of a magazine (the Masthead is the list of people who are involved with each magazine, we use them for reference). I also have to go on pick-ups where I get to go to the buildings where major magazines like Vogue are done. Some days I get to style photos for our Instagram.


What are some of the most interesting or important things you have learned so far?


I think the most interesting thing I have learned in my internship is actually from a design aspect. I didn't know much about designing and how companies pick and choose what clothes are going to be sold, but it's really interesting. I often get to see decision makers for big names like Nordstrom and Bloomingdale's. I can see which styles they pick and why they pick those certain ones to be in the store. It's cool to be able to not only learn about public relations, but about fashion business in general.


What are your plans for after graduation?


After graduation I plan on moving back up to NYC. I am going to start applying for positions in October and hopefully have a placement by January. Of course, if I were offered a great position elsewhere I would certainly consider it, but I really like the feeling of NYC living. I plan to use the connections that I've made up here to increase my chances of finding a job.


Nikolas Alfonso outside JP Morgan building in NYC.


Nikolas Alfonso - Intern with JP  Morgan in NYC


What is your major and class standing at USF?


I am currently a senior with about 15 credits left to graduate. I usually take 15 credit hours a semester, but because the baseball season is in the spring, it is best for me to spread it out and finish at the end of May. I am studying finance and will also be getting a minor in economics.


How did you secure your internship at JP Morgan?


Luckily for me, the College of Business put me in a great position to get the offer. After talking to the dean and explaining to him that I wanted to secure in internship in NYC, he put me in touch with the head of student development at the time who was Ann Ruble. Ann really went out of her way to connect me with as many USF alumni as possible. After talking to a lot of people, Ann and the dean had a trip planned to meet alumni in NYC and they met with Katherine Elkahly. Katherine is the program director for the Financial Analyst Development Program. When Ann sent over my resume, and Katherine was interested. She forwarded my resume to her team, I was interviewed a few times over the phone and before I knew it, I got a call saying I got the job!


What are some changes you have experienced living and working in another state?


Not only am I living in another state, I moved to NYC - talk about a change of pace. It was extremely overwhelming at first, especially considering I had never been to the city before moving up here. One thing I notice is that everyone in the city seems to be on a mission; it’s a mindset that is "Go, go, go." For everyone that has been to the city, they probably already know, but it really is something that you have to experience for yourself. Luckily, I have always been this way myself, and I was able to adjust quickly.


On average, how many hours do you work each week?


It really has been varying. On average, I would say by the end of the summer it will be close to 45-50 hours a week.


What does a typical workday look like for you?


I can honestly say no day has been typical. Everyday has been different, which is keeping me on my toes and making my role pretty exciting.


What are some of the most interesting or important things you have learned so far?


So far my job has been nothing short of a true learning experience. I have never worked in a corporate in environment or any other financial role as a matter of fact. Luckily for me, my job oversees a lot of the different lines of business (LOB’s), so I am getting to experience the firm from a top-down perspective. Being able to learn how everything within these LOB’s comes together to make the firm successful is really interesting and exciting.


What are your plans for after graduation?


If this internship goes well, I hope to receive a full time offer and move back up to NYC to continue with the program. The program I am a part of is rotational, which consists of two additional years within the corporate finance division. This means you rotate within the corporate sector working on different teams throughout the year.



Helen Bierko is a communications intern in the University Communications and Marketing department.