Sofia Klapischak interns with Teen Vogue and the Visual Arts Gallery

Today’s post is the first in a series of articles about VCS student internships, expanding on the introductory piece I posted on October 11th. As I mentioned then, I’m planning to follow up with as many of the students as I can, so that I can write about their experiences in more detail. Today, I’ll be starting with a report on Sofia Klapischak’s two internships, with Teen Vogue and SVA’s Visual Arts Gallery.

In the summer of 2009, Sofia worked in the offices of Teen Vogue, which is owned by Condé Nast, an international publisher of fashion and lifestyle magazines with offices in major cities around the world (including New York, Paris, London, and Tokyo). Condé Nast has a long history with Teen Vogue’s parent publication Vogue; the publisher came into existence in 1909, when its founder Condé Montrose Nast took over the magazine after the death of its original publisher. Based in the U.S., Teen Vogue is a spinoff publication that carries stories on fashion, entertainment, and current news, aimed at a younger audience.

The Condé Nast building at 4 Times Square, home of Teen Vogue. (I used to work for a theater producer just a block away at 1501 Broadway.)

Here’s what Sofia has to say about what she did at Teen Vogue, and what she learned while she was there:

“Working with the magazine editors and the fashion directors, I quickly learned the importance of teamwork and individual responsibility when producing something creative with a deadline. A few of my daily tasks included conducting an inventory of every fashion garment or item that came through the door, preparing and assisting at photo shoots, contacting PR firms and fashion houses, and committing myself to the overall positive and well-functioning atmosphere of the workplace. The experience related to my VCS education, as I had gained experience in New York City networking and an understanding of creativity on a massive production scale.”

Right after Sofia’s internship with Teen Vogue ended, she moved on to her next position:

“In the fall of 2009, I began an internship/independent study at the Visual Arts Gallery at 601 West 26 Street in Chelsea, working with the curator Richard Brooks. This was a crucial and highly beneficial experience, as I worked hands on with the gallery. I learned the process of curating, archiving, show installation and de-installation, handling budgets, and aesthetic theory. Also, I learned quite a bit about the contemporary New York art scene and what it means to have a vision as a gallery owner.”

One of the rooms in the Visual Arts Gallery, showing the 2008 VCS student exhibition Transitions.

I picked Sofia’s internships as the focus of my first follow-up because together, they show how much broad practical experience students can gain by stepping outside the academic environment for a little while and working in the professional world. Between these two jobs, Sofia had a chance to consider the significant difference between arts administration in a gallery setting and the day-to-day operations of a commercial venture focused on pop culture and mass media. All businesses share some managerial functions in common, but every office and every organization is unique, and different goals (such as presenting on ongoing series of art exhibitions or keeping a magazine in print and on schedule) create the need for procedures tailored to very different bottom lines. That’s the sort of thing that even the best class on business management can’t teach, which is why gaining real world experience can be such an important part of student life in VCS. (I’m a recovering business student and financial administrator with practical experience in several different fields, so this topic is close to my heart.)

I’ll be back again soon with additional entries in this series on VCS internships, including more first-hand reports from students.

(Finally, a random side-note: the old pulp fiction character The Shadow is currently owned by Condé Nast, so whenever hear the publisher’s name, I always picture his cloaked figure. Why? Who knows…)

Visual & Critical Studies