There is a buzz on 45th Street in Midtown, New York as tourists and New Yorkers claim the last few weeks of warm breeze, before autumn fully sinks in. They mingle about the street fair, gravitating towards colorful hand-woven baskets and the smoky aroma of freshly grilled corn on the cob. Making her way through the crowded tourist attraction is 20-year-old Cindy Nguyen, who has managed to accumulate thirteen plus internships before starting her junior year at Pace University. We settled down and decided to skip the cafe’s menu, and started chatting about her glamorous resume accomplishments since we met two years ago.
Cindy is now a Public Relations intern at Valentino, one of the most quintessential fashion houses she has been blessed to walk the halls of. There is no subtlety about her love for branding and confidence to set herself a part from her peers. This charm was perfected while peeking out from the back rooms of Watertown Tanning, her parent’s beauty salon.
Subsequently, ending her intern turned freelancer position at Christian Louboutin, Cindy has garnered attention from other aspiring business and fashion-craving youths. With this budding courtesy of mentor-seeking students, she branched off her campus organization, Profashionals, and created an online hub and boot-camp for them. With remarkable career blueprints, networking opportunities and exclusive job postings, Profashionals is sure to set the scene for its competitors like Ed2010 and Intern Queen.
“I’m using all my resources and connections to give students the best experience to jump-start his or her career,” she explains.
This bold move is only an addition to her already formed campus organization’s robust activities, which came together after recognition from deans at Pace. Cindy is modest about all the attention, but a Dean setting her to be “the face of the new fashion marketing minor” is a pretty big deal. “I want to foster a network for people wanting to get into the fashion industry,” she continues.
Cindy’s fabulous pool of call-to-action fashion representatives stem from the editorial desk to the corporate platform. Her trademark for staying in touch, going above and beyond her duties, and her humble character has given her renown opportunities one after the other. Many of us are all too familiar with the daily work flow of an intern’s schedule–answering phones, organizing files, the list goes on. Cindy took those humdrum tasks with gratitude. “The biggest thing is speaking up. Getting coffee won’t test your skills or create anything of you as an intern”, she stresses.
At times it can be far too easy to slip into a state of discouragement and forget to ask for more assignments or even something challenging. The fashion industry is very small and the name of a lazy intern passes around like “wildfire.” The business is so tight-knit and as much as we might see it as cattiness, Cindy admits that “the people there are here to help and it’s a great family to be a part of.” Being an intern has its ups and downs, so a tough skin is a definite when working with seasoned professionals. Cindy’s motto is to “look at every task as if they matter” in order to stand out among your peers. “If I didn’t complete a task or complete it to the best that I could, then I failed in a way. That really pushed me to do a great job.”
The small town Connecticut native got her start working her way up the communication ladder while still just a young girl at her parent’s beauty salon. Finding her place in The Big Apple’s corporate market was an easy transition as she recalls chatting up the clients at Watertown Tanning. Cindy’s parents immigrated to the United States when they were 18-years-old and soon after opened up their business. While juggling a company and mastering a new language, Cindy and her siblings joined in to help. “My sisters and I took over the role of being the face of the business.” She shares that this exposure was her first taste of the marketing and public relations world. Instead of babysitting as a teen, she socialized with the salon’s clients while promoting store discounts and products.
Evidently she fell so in love with beauty, Cindy decided to take up a new trade while still in high school. “I begged my parents to get me into beauty school. That was obviously a big no.” They did however settle for a few weekend classes which Cindy and her mother attended together. “By the time I was done with high school I was able to take the state [Cosmetology Practical Exam] and I passed!”
Although, she wanted to continue her studies in cosmetology, Cindy knew New York was not going to be her key platform for success in the beauty industry. “Being exposed to fashion in New York helped me make that switch from beauty.” Cindy’s parent’s entrepreneurial flare was enlightening to her decision of selecting a Business Administration major at Pace’s Lubin School of Business. The mom-and-pop shop is a small scale to what she experiences today, but it helped her hone the role of a manager, making it easy for her to follow a corporate guideline with confidence while applying her skills and knowledge in beauty and fashion.
This summer was the first summer, since paving her way in New York, which Cindy was not able to help out at the salon. “It’s really gratifying to be that support system your parents can fall back on.” Cindy talks about her strong family support with reassuring vibrancy. When announcing the names of her latest internships, Cindy confesses her parents typically ask “what is that?” As much as these companies are big achievements for her, she is humbled about where she came from.
Her fast-pace journey with some of the most prominent fashion brands in the last two years is seriously just the beginning. Each day she is growing in a field that she loves and connecting with people who believe in her talent and creativity. Her time spent at Christian Louboutin, she dishes is one of her favorite experiences. She left as an intern in fall 2014, but returned for numerous occasions throughout 2015. “I created a relationship with them that goes far beyond fashion.”
So how does she do it all; honor classes, internships, freelance projects and life? Well she stopped asking herself “why me” and focused on “why not me.” Those three little words can be enough motivation to move anyone forward. Cindy has a fierce element of being innovative and successful no matter what industry she is conquering. Her advice is to “forget your insecurities” and “just go for it no matter what your experience is.”
Her long term goal is to be a Senior Vice President of a fashion luxury brand. Today, the avid go-getter visits home with congratulatory welcomes from her family and longtime clients of Watertown Tanning. She laughs that they remember her as “the shy and nail polish obsessed little girl” and now they applaud her achievements.
Outside of fashion and school, Cindy is your typical 20-year-old. She admits “shopping is a bad habit” and maintaining her blog and brunching keeps her refreshed. It’s this balance of self-fulfillment and a totally laid back demeanor that keeps us, and big companies on the edge of our seat for Cindy’s next move.
By Yegide Matthews / Feature Photos: YHM Magazine Archives, All Others: Courtesy of Cindy Nguyen