I’ve always wondered what it’s like to Intern at the Pink Palace, and when I stumbled across Cailtin on Instagram I knew she was the perfect person to interview!
Caitlin spent this past summer interning at Lilly Pulitzer, and I asked her all about it. Before you read what she has to say about her #dreamjob, you can follow her on Instagram @caitalexandria and check out her website!
What did you study in college? Did you always know you wanted to go to grad school?
I did my undergrad at Tulane University in New Orleans and majored in both English and Studio Art with a concentration in Painting. While in undergrad, I fell in love with design and interned at a small graphic design studio and also opened a small web and graphic design business with my husband (then boyfriend).
It was part of the way through undergrad that I learned about surface pattern design and that people could be fabric/textile designers for a living. I immediately knew it was what I wanted to do! A perfect combination of my love of art and design! I couldn’t study that at Tulane though, so I made the most of my time there, poured myself into my painting and graphic design work. I had long admired the Savannah College of Art and Design and dreamed about going to grad school there for textile design, but when I graduated from undergrad my husband had a lot of student loans that we needed to pay off. So I worked full-time in graphic design for three years post-grad and we lived really simply and worked hard to pay off all our debt. During that time I took online courses and in-person workshops with designers that I admired and taught myself repeatable pattern design. For a while I thought grad school was just a far off dream, but once we paid our debt off and I felt like I’d grown as an artist/designer on my own, I felt that grad school was the right next step for me.
Although going to grad school meant some crazy life changes for me (my husband lives in New Orleans while I go to school in Savannah!), I’m so glad I did it. I’ve grown so much as a designer and it has connected me to some amazing opportunities, like Lilly!
How did you become interested in Lilly Pulitzer?
Although I’d always known of the brand Lilly Pulitzer and their iconic prints, they weren’t really on my radar before grad school. My personal passions in textile design have been aimed more at the quilting cotton and interior design markets, I never really thought of myself as someone who would work in fashion. Lilly, along with many other companies, actively recruit from SCAD for interns and new hires because SCAD is known for really pushing their students in art and design. I certainly owe SCAD for the connection to Lilly!
What was the process like when you were applying to the Lilly Pulitzer internship? Was there any way you differentiated yourself during the application process?
There were many steps to the internship application/interview process. Initial resume submission, in-person interview and portfolio review, a special Lilly print project to see how well I could design to the Lilly brand, then additional video interviews.
I would always recommend during any interview to use it as an opportunity to make connections regardless of the final outcome. Be confident and use the interview to speak to your skills, of course, but be interested in the company and what they do as well. It is a great time to ask questions about how the team works, what the day to day looks like, ask the interviewer what their favorite part of their job is (and if you can, relate their answers back to things in your own experience as well), etc. Don’t take over the interview into topics that are irrelevant to the position, but show that you are interested, can make interesting conversation, and want to know more about the job/position/company. Even if at the end of the process you don’t get the job, you’ve gotten a small peek into a world that you wouldn’t have seen into otherwise. Everything is a learning opportunity!
What department did you intern in?
I interned in the Print Design department and also shadowed the Color, Fabric, and Trim Research and Innovation team!
What did your day-to-day look like?
During the time I spent at Lilly, I worked on the Summer and Resort Fall 2018 print lines as well as some special projects. My day-to-day varied depending on where we were at with each season, but mostly consisted of digitally cleaning prints and getting them as finalized as possible. That included putting designs into repeat, color reducing, re-coloring, re-sizing, and perfecting and tweaking the artwork. I did some original design work for border and engineered prints as well as an intern project print collection with the rest of the summer interns.
Was there anything you did this summer that you were really proud of?
Honestly, the time flew by so fast and between the demands of the print team’s collections and the summer intern print collection, I mostly felt like I was being pulled all over the place! I’m happy with all that I was able to learn from my position and I’m happy with how my intern print collection turned out, but I’m also hard on myself and feel like it could have even better with more time
If you had to describe your summer at Lilly with 3 words, what would you choose and why?
Bright, Happy, and Fun! The Pink Palace is such an inspiring place to be with color, print, and pattern everywhere. It is hard to wear and work around such bright colors without it making you feel happy and joyful! I also had the honor to work with an amazing group of interns and made some really awesome friendships. The summer was filled with great times with them both inside and outside of the workplace. The King of Prussia, PA area is also really beautiful in the summer, so exploring the area was great too.
What was the best part about your internship? Was there anything you didn’t love?
It was awesome to see the design to production process in person of such a large company and how things progress from print design to fashion, tech, and production design, through merchandising and planning, and all the other departments and on to product in stores. As an artist and designer, I love that Lilly prints always start with hand painting and original artwork and I think Lilly does an amazing job of keeping a very painterly feel in the finished designs.
There wasn’t really any part of the job that I didn’t love, but as with any new job it always takes a while to learn how things work and who is in charge of what. I’d never worked in a company that big before, so I was a little surprised by how distinct the hierarchy of design/positions were. Even with that though, Lilly still does a great job of having a team/collaborative approach. Overall, I really am so grateful for the opportunity to work there!
What are your plans after grad school?
I’m almost done, my only remaining class is my final project/capstone/Masters thesis!
My husband just started a graduate program in Louisiana, so I’ll be back in New Orleans when I’m done. I’m looking forward to settling my life down a little bit and figuring out what is next! I’ve always been interested in licensing my design work to fabric companies, so next on my list is to pursue that a little more! We’ll see!
What advice would you give someone who wants to apply for a Lilly internship?
Whether applying to Lilly, or anyone interested in the world of art/design in general, I would suggest taking the time to figure out what you have to uniquely offer through your work. Whether it be through conceptual ideas, sense of color, a design style or unique design process or content, make yourself stand out and find where your work fits into the world. You want to show not only your skills and strengths as a designer, but your creativity and that you can come up with new and original ideas. For Lilly in particular, I think it’s nice to be interested in a painterly Lilly aesthetic, but you also want to show that you can create more than just what they are already doing. It’s a company that values creativity, so I feel like the same can be said for any of the other departments as well.
Thank you so much to Caitlin for taking the time to talk to me all about her internship and sharing your pictures! Didn’t it sound like a dream job?! Her print that she shared is just so beautiful and I cannot wait to follow her along and see what else she creates!