UC Berkeley’s 2014 YMA FSF Scholars

About three months ago, I wrote about the introduction of a YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund (FSF) to UC Berkeley, made possible by the Haas Business School Association (HBSA). As mentioned in my past article, applicants had to participate in a phone or in-person interview with an industry professional and complete a case study analysis. This year’s involved examining JC Penney’s marketing strategy: identifying areas for improvement in the company’s merchandising, advertising, and sales plans; providing potential resolutions to its failed pricing model; and offering recommendations for JC Penney’s action steps moving forward.

(L-R) Denice Sy, Ming Cong, and Sunny Huang at the YMA FSF Awards Reception
(L-R) Denice Sy, Ming Cong, and Sunny Huang at the YMA FSF Awards Reception

When I attended the information session in October 2013, my central goal was to publish a writeup about the solely merit-based award opportunity for the Haas Blog. I ended up trying my luck anyway and submitted an application in mid-November. And to my surprise, I was one of the four UC Berkeley students selected for the prestigious YMA FSF award. The other recipients were Sunny Huang, Ming Cong, and Jie Ying Lily Li. The $5,000 financial benefit was already amazing in itself. However, what was most memorable about being a YMA FSF recipient was the travel and lodging experience in New York funded by the scholarship.

The exclusive 2014 YMA FSF Awards Dinner
The exclusive 2014 YMA FSF Awards Dinner

In early January 2014, YMA FSF scholars across the United States were invited to attend the Annual Awards Dinner held on the 8th of January at the Waldorf=Astoria Hotel in New York. The trip’s itinerary included a reception where scholars first met our mentors (Berkeley’s was Kevin Rosenbloom, who was also our interviewer and YMA Ambassador from HBSA’s FSF Info Session last semester), an exclusive $1,200 dinner, and an internship fair early on the morning of the 9th.

The internship fair featured multiple companies, such as Amazon, Burlington, Kahn Lucas, Kohl’s, LF USA, Macy’s, Perry Ellis, Ralph Lauren, Randa Accessories, Ross Stores, Tharanco, The Doneger Group, and VF Sportswear. The fair focused on summer internship opportunities in design, merchandising, buying, planning, and marketing.

Ming Cong with Victoria Secret's Karlie Kloss
Ming Cong with Victoria Secret’s Karlie Kloss

When I asked Ming how she felt about our NY experience, she had this to say:

“It was such a different opportunity from anything else I’ve experienced at Berkeley. Obviously the scholarship money helps, but it was also amazing to be able to travel to New York and meet students with similar interests. Not to mention I got to meet Karlie Kloss!”

Ming is a junior, however she graduates a semester early in December 2014. She majors in Molecular & Cell Biology and serves as the president of Fashion and Student Trends (FAST); a student-initiated, student-run, non-profit association designed to bring the world of fashion to Cal established in 2001. Despite her medical concentration and aspirations, because of her love for all things fashion, she commonly takes Marketing classes at Haas. It was also through a newsletter at Haas that she discovered the YMA FSF Scholarship opportunity.

Ming added that: “Taking 106 definitely gave me a lot of guidance as far as structuring my case study. The class gave me several opportunities to read written case studies and construct briefs both individually and in a group.”

Sunny Huang, currently a sophomore, is an Economics and intended Business major at Cal. She also had great things to share about being a YMA FSF Scholar.

The Waldorf=Astoria
The Waldorf=Astoria

“The YMA provides amazing opportunities for students aspiring to break into the fashion industry. Through the experience, I learned about the many ways I can turn what I once thought to be a hobby into a potential career path.

Having the opportunity to visit the fashion capital of the US only added to the overall experience. The historic Waldorf Astoria provided a perfect setting for the event that included networking with fashion’s influences, an internship fair, and an awards dinner.”

Sunny plans to participate in the YMA FSF award again next year for the Jim Edleman Scholarship, a $10,000 stipend available only to previous FSF Scholars.

It is definitely an honor to be one of UC Berkeley’s first class of YMA FSF Scholars. The scholarship is an annual opportunity offered to specific YMA member universities, which Cal only recently became a part of.

I cannot imagine an experience that matches the level of networking exposure, financial support, and professional mentorship we received through the YMA FSF Award. I encourage anyone passionate about fashion or interested in entering the retail industry as a potential post-graduate career to look out for the YMA FSF once the scholarship launches again in the last quarter of this year.

The Helmsley Building in Park Avenue
The Helmsley Building in Park Avenue

Finally, I would attribute much of my success in completing the scholarship’s required case study to specific Haas courses like:

UGBA 192P – Corporate Social Responsibility Consulting with Prof. Kevin Sweeney where I became proficient in producing professionally written deliverables;

UGBA 106 – Marketing with Prof. Jeziorski, where I first learned to digest Harvard Business School cases;

UGBA 190T – Open Innovation Business Models with Prof. Solomon Darwin, whose innovation concepts and strategies I was able to apply to my case brief; and

UGBA 102B – Managerial Accounting with Prof. Rada Brooks whose lectures on performance metrics and sales budgets played a huge role in helping me legitimize the proposed action plan for my case recommendations.

I am bittersweet about graduating from Haas this May 2014. Although I’ve only been at Cal for two years, having transferred in Fall of 2012, I feel genuinely confident about the amount of preparation for the real world that Haas has provided, both through academic coursework’s and experiential learning opportunities.

So to the current juniors, incoming Haas students, and even non-majors reading this: Haas offers multiple resources both internally and from external providers such as the YMA FSF Scholarship. Make the most out of your stay at UC Berkeley and grab whatever opportunities that come your way.

Denice Sy
Class of 2014

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