Learner Internships

We are looking for industry and community organisations who can offer opportunities for learners to gain valuable hands-on experience in aspects of the fashion industry. Examples could include design assistant, workroom assistant, patternmaking, garment construction, fashion communication & styling, events, retail, costume design etc.

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Can you provide our fashion learners with real world industry experience?

  • Projects: Our learners carry out applied and creative research projects for a variety of industry and community organisations as part of their learning, including a collaborative retail and production team project with local fashion retailers at year two of the Bachelor of Design (Fashion).
  • Work placements / internships: We expect our third year learners to do a minimum of a week’s work in the industry. This is usually on a voluntary basis although some learners have paid employment that will provide them with relevant industry experience while they study.

The learners will bring their own creativity, design and technical skills to contribute to your organisation, including their knowledge of sustainable business models in the fashion industry. You will be providing them with a learning opportunity supervised by an industry professional, to help them to gain the skills and experience that you as an employer need graduates to have.

Contact details

Please contact Tracy Kennedy if you are interested in joining our portfolio of student-friendly fashion organisations.

Examples of past learner internships

Precious beading
Fashion student Sidney North was inspired by an Inca gemstone.

Third-year Bachelor of Design (Fashion) learner Sidney North describes the inspiration for her collection:

“The inspiration for this collection initially came from a gemstone known as the ‘Green Goddess of the Inca’, which was an emerald the size of an Ostrich egg kept in a temple in Colombia. My theme explores consumers’ obsession with shiny objects, false values placed on clothing and notions of preciousness – and how such notions can corrupt. As an easy example, think of how the Lord of the Rings character Gollum regarded the ring.”

To achieve this, Sidney created five garments with natural, feminine silhouettes. Choosing a base colour of tan and pink, “similar to my skin tone”, she hand-painted additional layers comprising five colours: red for ruby, white for pearl, green for emerald, purple for amethyst and orange for topaz. But the last, and most important design feature, are beads. These sit on top of the mesh fabric, creating a stark contrast to the muted dye and transparent mesh.

“The beads are rich, dense, and reflective. The beading is a direct allusion to gems and jewellery, and are intended as the focal point of the garments. The glamour of the beads distract the viewer from the simplicity of the garments’ silhouettes.”

Yet, as Sidney discovered, beading takes a lot of time – and a lot of beads.

“It was definitely challenging. The time it took was intense. I’d initially planned to create big spots of beads but, realising how time-consuming that would be, I opted to do fewer of those and introduced veins of beads, which actually make the garments more coherent. And although I feel I have created better garments in the past, that wasn’t the goal. The most important outcome was to go outside of my comfort zone.”

March 2023

Maternity wear
Katie Mangai is designing comfortable and beautiful clothes for pregnant women.

Business women struggle to maintain a professional wardrobe during pregnancy. Maternity wear is designed for the average size woman at 7 months of pregnancy. Not only does that make it especially difficult for petite or plus-sized women to find something suitable, but the clothing can be both too loose at earlier stages of pregnancy and too tight later or if she is carrying twins. It is also expensive to buy clothes that are only going to be used for a short period of time.

Coming to her fashion studies after a business career Katie Mangai has designed a range of maternity wear for her final year portfolio. Finding the right niche market is key to financial sustainability, and she decided pregnant women had a need that she could help meet. The challenge of designing maternity wear appealed to her, because women change shape and size during pregnancy. Katie wants her designs to enable women to be comfortable and confident about their professional image. 

Katie also participated in the Audacious student entrepreneurship programme and won the Firebrand Transformational Package for her business solution. Her online survey showed that women were happy to borrow maternity clothing from friends or relatives to compile a pregnancy wardrobe, so Katie developed a rental subscription plan. For a monthly fee women will be able to compile a capsule wardrobe with items that suit their style and palette from Katie's range of clothing. When they no longer fit well, they can exchange them for differently sized items. For the next stage of development of her business Luni Maternity, Katie is looking for test customers to give feedback on concept designs and sizing.

August 2022

In a collaboration with Newmarket Business Association, Fashion learner Katharina Stapper enjoyed an eight-week internship with WORLD.

Katharina Stapper won the Intern-Scholarship in Partnership with the Newmarket Business Association and was selected from all candidates by WORLD Founder Dame Denise L'Estrange-Corbet. Her work stood out to WORLD as intelligent and with individuality. She spent her eight weeks working in our Workroom in central Auckland at the end of which she was offered the position of Retail Operations and Workroom Assistant, a role using her existing skills but also stretching her across a wider range of business and industry experiences.

Benny Castles reports:

"Kat is a hard working problem solver and works in between the workroom and the WORLD stores. She facilitates the structural side of our retail business as well as working across clients needs including sample cutting and special order works. She is a pleasure to work with, a good sense of humour which you need at WORLD, and a keen eye for detail.

"We have an intimate work environment where team members are asked to work across a variety of tasks and it takes the right kind of personality to fit in with us and be able to keep up with the mix of job types. Kat has been able to learn quickly and continue learning autonomously, being instinctive with a good concept of priorities. She has work at retail, on the pattern table, back stage of shows, on shoots and has spent a lot of time in the van or at the computer - hopefully it means her days have been interesting!"

January 2019

Working with our fashion learners helps one local retailer keep up-to-date.

Neil Gaudin, of Dunedin store VOID, has been partnering with Otago Polytechnic fashion learners for over 10 years. He is one of the fashion retailers who works with a small group of three to five second-year learners for their retail and production project collaboration.

The learners meet a retailer and then have to design clothes that would fit in that retail store, for its customers. The learners do the whole process - designing, costing, and production - then present their products to the retailer.

Neil appreciates the opportunity for him to keep abreast of what the learners are being taught and what they are thinking about design. This is also a way that he can support their development, giving them practical experience. 

"And who knows what may come of it? A couple of times I have ordered product they have made to sell at VOID."

January 2019

iD Emerging Designers
Since 2003 iD Dunedin Fashion Week has included the iD International Emerging Designer Awards, which is now the premier event.

Professor Margo Barton, Academic Leader for Fashion at Otago Polytechnic, is the current Chair of the iD Dunedin Fashion Week’s Executive Board and has been a committee member since 2001. She says Otago Polytechnic Fashion learners are integral to managing the Awards successfully.

About 70 learners are involved each year, doing all sorts of things. The first and second year learners work backstage, dressing the models. They get to see the amazing clothes up close, designs from all around the world. Third and fourth year learners are helping produce the event, including hosting international visitors to Dunedin. The learners have conversations with these designers about their techniques and make valuable industry connections. Some exciting opportunities arise for the learners out of these connections.

Contact us

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