Thursday, August 14, 2014

What I did on my summer vacation

As a dual-degree student (M&T), I knew that I wanted to stay at Penn this summer and take classes to lighten my course load during the regular school semester.  However, I also wanted to supplement my summer coursework by doing research or interning somewhere near Philadelphia.  Through an introduction from my MBA mentor at Wharton, I was hired as a Business Development Intern with a fashion start-up called Pragma Retail.

Pragma offers clothes for on-the-go women who travel frequently. The startup was formed when the company’s founder—a former consultant at Accenture—noticed the lack of stylish clothes that were designed for traveling.  Her job required her to travel a lot, and she was tired of stepping off the plane and into a meeting with a wrinkled outfit and dealing with hotel irons that would burn her clothes.  All of Pragma’s clothes are wrinkle-resistant and made with chemical-free, vegan textiles.  The clothes are designed to be practical but stylish.  Long-term, the company plans to expand into accessories, menswear, and children’s wear. 
For this summer, Pragma’s goal—and the main project I was working on—was the development of a Kickstarter campaign to fund the first production run for the company’s three product lines. As an intern at a start-up, you get to learn and have a hand in many different things—it all just depends on what needs to be done on that particular day.  My internship has been a fun mix of graphic design and business.  I’ve created designs for their main logo as well as the logos for each of their individual product lines.  I have also taken photos for their website and am currently filming and producing a video for their Kickstarter page.  In terms of the business side, I have done a lot of benchmarking and research on crowd funding campaigns for start-ups. I have also accompanied the founder to strategy meetings with fashion designers (and have gotten to try on some sample clothes that the designers have made!).  We have also met with textile producers in the New York area to discuss pricing and to select fabrics.  For the remainder of the summer, I’m working on updating their business plan and creating pitch decks to present to investors. 
Another great thing I’m enjoying about my internship is having more female mentors to learn from.  Pragma’s founder and the entire team are all females, and I have gotten to pick their brains about career development and their professional experiences.  Along with the advice and support I’ve been grateful to have received from upperclassmen and peers in AWE, it has been great to also have mentors in the business world to learn from as well.  I really enjoyed my internship experience this summer and look forward to what’s in store with Pragma in the future!

Michelle is a sophomore in Electrical Engineering. Questions for Michelle? contact her at

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