Path to Luxury Sometimes Indirect, Always Worthwhile

Coach sign on exterior of retail store

February 17, 2021

The path to one’s “dream job” isn’t always straightforward, but as two luxury brand marketing and management graduates told a group of current students, if you pursue it with focus, you can realize your aspirations.

Less than a year after her graduation from SU and joining men’s designer John Varvatos, Brianna Harden ’19 was presented with an opportunity she couldn’t pass up – a position at Coach.

Harden enthusiastically accepted. But then the pandemic happened, and four months after joining Coach, Harden was furloughed.

“Coach eventually laid off 3,000 and I was one of them – the last one in, first one out kind of thing,” Harden said.

She took advantage of her newly found free time by hanging out with her family. She also landed another job, this time at Lucky Brand, which is best known for its denim.

Harden shared with the students gathered for the Break Through session Luxury Brand Careers that Coach came knocking again, offering her another position. Despite her short tenure at Lucky, Harden accepted the opportunity to return to her dream company.

“Sometimes it’s really frowned upon to jump around in jobs, but I’m following my heart and doing what makes me happy,” Harden said. “And I think if the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s to do what makes you happy.”

COVID also impacted Sloane Barton ’17, a manager in training at Four Seasons Hotel and Resorts. Not only does it have her filling a variety of different roles for the hotel and resort chain, but it also led to her missing more than a month of work while she suffered from the virus.

Healthy now, Barton said she’s grateful to still have her job at a company she loves. It was only two years ago when she was stagnating at a job in Bethesda, Maryland – one that was not getting her any closer to her dream of working in the hospitality industry. In a leap of faith, she packed up and moved to Orlando, where she first joined Four Seasons as an on-call (coffee-loathing) barista.

She was soon promoted to full time and shortly thereafter entered the company’s management program, where she trains in all aspects of the business. After completing the program, Barton will have the opportunity to apply as an assistant director to any Four Seasons resort in the world.

“Four Seasons reminds me of Susquehanna,” Barton said. “It’s a good environment with supportive people who want you to grow and move up in the company.”

Barton and Harden had a few helpful tips for students looking forward to entering the world of luxury marketing:

  • Use your capstone project to further your post-graduate plans and then leverage that project in interviews.
  • Apply. Apply. And tailor your résumé and cover letter for each application. Harden applied for more than 80 jobs before reentering the workforce at Lucky.
  • Attend events like Break Through to network with alumni who could help you in the future.

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