Seeking out interning and networking experiences while also looking for opportunities to transform one’s career is what Tiffany Lyght offers up as advice for aspiring students of fashion, retail and merchandising.
Lyght, who serves as digital analyst at The Children’s Place, is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh, and launched her career as a client specialist at Gucci before pursuing a master’s of business administration degree at LIM College. Lyght’s résumé includes stints at Nautica and Tommy Hilfiger. She joined The Children’s Place in 2015 as the retailer’s e-commerce associate buyer, and was moved into her current role last year.
Here, as part of an ongoing series of career path feature stories in WWD, Lyght shares her insights about higher education in the industry as well as lessons she’s learned along the way.
WWD: How did your coursework and your experience at LIM help inform your career decisions?
Tiffany Lyght: LIM’s MBA program exposed me to the varying dimensions of business in the fashion industry. Although the coursework was challenging, the program was rewarding. It gave me the opportunity to learn from professors who were experts in their fields and work with extraordinary people from around the world. During my time at LIM, I improved my interpersonal and professional skills through group projects, presentations and internships. I also established relationships with mentors who assisted in the development of my career path.
WWD: If you could go back in time and give career advice to your younger self, what would you say?
T.L.: I would advise my younger self to take full advantage of internships. Specifically, to explore all areas of interest and understand the dynamics within various departments and their effect on the organization as a whole. Through this exploration, you may find an area you really enjoy and excel at. Gaining this knowledge early on can have long-term benefits and help you establish a definitive career path.
WWD: How would you describe your career path? What were some of the challenges you faced?
T.L.: My career path has been quite diverse, as I constantly yearn to learn more. I started working in sales and acquired knowledge through the customers and their perspective on the product. I then transitioned into merchandising, where I got the opportunity to influence the product throughout all stages — from development to its arrival in stores. While in merchandising, I was introduced to the e-commerce side of the business. I was intrigued by e-commerce and how data can be analyzed. So now I’m focusing on digital analytics.
WWD: Have you had mentors at LIM or in the industry? If yes, how have they helped you?
T.L.: A mentor once told me, “Work hard, stay positive and you will make it happen.” These words inspired me to make a dream become a reality — move to New York and start a career. Years later, I’ve found that no matter where I am in my career, having a good mentor is essential to my professional development.
Whether it be in the workplace or in our personal lives, we’re constantly learning and are confronted with challenges. By sharing their wisdom and knowledge, mentors provide important guidance and feedback.
WWD: What advice would you give someone considering a career in the retail and fashion apparel market?
T.L.: Intern and network! Internships are invaluable. They allow you to get firsthand experience while test-driving a career. Internships not only allow you to apply your academic knowledge to real-world situations; they also build your confidence in your abilities.
Internships also provide opportunities to network and establish relationships with mentors. The information and advice you get from these mentors can help reduce your learning curve and stimulate the growth of your career.
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