Fashion Studies Student Ben Sill on Building an Entrepreneurial Mindset
For Fashion Studies student Ben Sill, who has always been interested in the world of business, pursuing a career in fashion was a natural choice. “[Fashion] is always on the peak of innovation,” he says. “I think that’s what drew me in, with the constant evolution in this career path there is always a new and unique problem to solve.” For Sill, who has always been engaged in and interested in retail, Columbia College was stand-out option for college. Rankings aside, Sill found the program to be very rich with opportunities for scholarships and career preparation.” Now, looking back, Sill says, “I don’t have any regrets.”
At Columbia, Sill has been positioned to solve many of the unique problems in Fashion. “When you come to fashion school you think you're just going to be learning about clothing, but a huge part of our education is retail-centric,” Sill says. “When you begin to understand the concept of omnichannel retailing, and how all the top retailers make use of it, you kind of get pulled into all of the opportunities for evolution that are coming in the future.”
Since his second year at Columbia Sill has been dedicated to making the most of his time with experts in the field. During his sophomore year, Sill was taking Fashion Studies Associate Professor of Instruction Kate Schaefer’s Future of Retail course. “I made a big effort to stand out from the first day by asking questions and going above and beyond on assignments,” Sill says. “Unbeknownst to me, Dr. Colbey E. Reid and [Assistant Professor of Instruction] Allision Leahy were looking for students for a new course, the Fashion Lab.”
In Fashion Lab, students partner with major brands and corporations to solve emerging problems in the industry. Past partners have included United Airlines, Cotton, Inc. and Cintas Corporation. Sill continued to stand out as a student involved in Fashion Lab. Soon, Sill was told that he was being recognized as a Fashion Experience Fellow and would be welcomed into a new scholarship program that is designed to facilitate unique educational and career pathways for stand-out Fashion Studies students.
For Sill, one key component of his successful time at Columbia was his willingness to engage with internships and opportunities to maximize his career-readiness. “My second internship at York Project was a key stepping-stone for me because the company was a start-up with the mission to end homelessness by selling streetwear. As this was a start-up, I had the opportunity to work closely alongside the founder and other key partners. This helped me develop insights into the key metrics upon which businesses thrive. The skills learned in this internship were key to me now entering my current Buying Intern position at QVC.”
To future students, Sill has some important advice: “Make use of all the resources Columbia has to offer in order to get your feet wet as soon as possible! I started visiting the Career center in my freshman year to work on my resume. This is what helped me in securing my first internship in only my second semester of college. Furthermore, always get to know your professors. I made a habit of always getting to know them, and it opened up so many doors once they saw how interested I was in the subject.” And now, with a buying internship, a powerful resume, and professors supporting his career trajectory, the path forward for Ben Sill is wide open.