Boothbay Region High School alumna Reagan Cola is keeping busy at home with two remote internships this summer. Now a junior at Lasell College in Newton, Massachusetts, Cola is looking toward her future after a fun, rewarding time studying in the school’s fashion marketing program and working on minors in law and entrepreneurship.
“My family members who are a bit older ask ‘What can you do with fashion?’ And I’m like, ‘There’s a lot you can do with fashion: Anything from product development, getting products from inside the factories to getting them onto the floor in a department store. Even (working with) luxury brands. You can market products and find ways to work with your consumers to get them to buy what you’re trying to sell.”
That is why her internships are outside the fashion industry in social media management and online marketing, Cola said. Her full-time internship is with Lithia Motors of Oregon, the third largest vehicle dealership in the US Cola analyzes dealership websites and social media and makes sure everything is running properly and inventory is up-to-date. The job involves a lot of communication, online work and spreadsheets, she said.
Cola’s second internship is for a small social media management company where she oversees three or four companies’ social media pages. Cola designs, captions and creates posts, timing them for maximum viewership for each social media page which averages about five pages per company. She also keeps in constant contact with the companies to make changes and build social media campaigns.
“I’m in charge of when it’s posted, how it’s posted, what it looks like … It’s rewarding in a sense that you’re able to see the progress that you’ve made really easily because these apps have made it so easy to track your postings and likes and engagements and stuff like that. So, it’s cool and it’s a fast turnaround … and (it’s) super fun, super engaging, but it’s constant. All day, every day, (so) it’s tough, but you know what? It’s really fun, though. I like it.”
Many have asked Cola what Lithia Motors has to do with fashion, and she said she’s had to admit there’s a bit of a gap between the industries. However, she said breaking marketing down to its basics shows the skills she employs at her current company are the same skills she would need marketing any commodity. The only departure on the academic side is, her program is geared to fashion marketing, a niche she said most colleges and universities don’t offer. She’ll also be taking a term abroad at Florence University of the Arts in Italy, where she will take more fashion classes.
“Of course there are a lot of fashion classes, but they’re essentially like business classes: You’re doing reports on fashion businesses. I even had to take a chemistry class where we learned mostly about fabrics, the way they’re woven and then how the dyeing process affects different fabrics based on their molecular makeup.”
Law and entrepreneurship were relatively new interests for Cola last year and, by the end of her final year, she’ll have enough credits for minors in both. Law classes have helped develop an understanding of fashion from a different perspective while the entrepreneurship angle provides a deeper dive into the business side of things, she said. “So, I’ve kind of dipped my toe into different fields and industries.”
Cola said she did not envision doing this type of work. She always thought she would be working for a buying team or finance department for retail stores. While that may very well be in her future, she said she would be happy to keep working for Lithia Motors after graduating so she can keep building on her skills. Otherwise, Cola said, her future after college is up in the air, which is unusual since she always likes having a plan to stick to.
“A lot of my friends are getting a master’s or some type of MBA, but I am ready to finish school. I love college and it’s absolutely rewarding, but with my two internships – I’ve learned so much more in my two internships than a year’s worth of classes … I always like to say the world is my oyster because I’ve always had a path and after graduation I have no idea what I want to do, because there’s just so much in this fashion industry.”