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Last Update: Saturday December 16, 2017

Key Idea: Create An Intern Program

Nicole Miller says that interns can add vitality and fresh ideas to your company.

Key Question:


Bring interns in to keep you fresh.

Q:  Why is the intern program good for Nicole Miller?

I t provides a fresh flow of talent the company does not have to pay for in hard dollars. Frankly, the stars are perfectly aligned for this to work. First, one of the most famous designs schools is just a block away from Nicole Miller headquarters. Second, Nicole herself attended the Rhode Island School of Design which wants to send her interns. Third, The Nicole Miller brand is now respected and young women want to wear the clothes. And fourth, there are more design students who need and want an internship program than Nicole Miller can accommodate. No wonder this works and no wonder Nicole Miller doesn't have to pay the interns! You can design an intern program that works for you. Many companies pay interns in cold hard cash while other programs award academic credits for the work done. In some industries there is no precedent for interns but that doesn't mean you can't make it happen.

Who are your most valued, productive employees? How do they spend their time? Would they benefit, i.e., would the company benefit, if these employees had some part-time administrative assistance? College students are bright, energetic, and can be of enormous value to a business. Because they work part-time, the business does not bear the cost of employee benefits, making interns a cost effective alternative as well. Talk to your employees, particularly the ones you sense are overworked. Ask them if they perceive any benefit to the idea of starting an internship program.

If you decided to proceed, contact the career center at your local university. But don't stop there. Find out who the appropriate department head is and call him or her directly. Send a job description, hourly wage, and a clear description of how flexible you can be on the number and time of hours worked. Ask the department head to circulate your need to the entire faculty. Students will go to the career center and contact you, but a student recommended by a faculty member may very well be the best candidate.

Think about it

Have you tried an intern program? Why not? What school around you might be open to providing interns?

Clip from: The People Part

All around the World:  In this episode we explore what it takes to build a team. We talk to business owners in New York City, Stamford, Seattle, Chicago, Tucson, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Dallas, San Diego, and Las Cruces.

The first step in having a sustainable business is to hire good people who are able to carry on in your absence.  As a sole proprietor, we create a job for ourselves and work for our sub-contractors and suppliers.  When you become  an employer, you create jobs for others and put yourself in position to build a legacy and renewable asset.

If you believe your business concept is big enough to live beyond you and if you want to surround yourself with just the right people to make it happen, please study each key idea.

The more successful a business owner becomes, the more likely it is you will hear them say, "The single most important factor in this business is the people." By re-examining very specific parts of prior episodes of the show, we give you the very best thinking about what it takes to grow your business by hiring, training and inspiring others.  This positions you to turn over the leadership when you are ready to make a transition and go on to other projects.

All the key ideas and videos of this episode...
The homepage for this episode...

Nicole Miller Fashions

Nicole Miller, Founder

525 Seventh Avenue
New York, NY 10018

Visit our web site:

Office: 2127199200

Business Classification:

Year Founded: 1982

Create An Intern Program

HATTIE: (Voiceover) At Nicole Miller, many designers are interns working for no pay before they are added to the payroll.

NICOLE MILLER: That dress should be $275 and that one should be the same.

BUD KONHEIM: $275 – I would sell it for $275 and it will be a hot dress.

HATTIE: Bud Konheim and Nicole Miller started the Nicole Miller Company in 1982. Today they have 165 employees working either at headquarters in New York City on 7th Avenue, in the warehouse or in the retail stores. There are 30 Nicole Miller Boutiques around the country – 15 owned by Nicole Miller and 15 owned by licensees. Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom and other large retail operations also carry the line.

NICOLE: My clothes look ageless. I've always been against clothes that make you look old. And I think a lot of times expensive clothes tend to make women look older and more mature. And I've always been against looking older than you are. And I don't think you should be dressing like a teeny-bopper either because I think women shouldn't dress so that they look foolish. But I think they should always dress so they look youthful.

BUD: That is the business we are in. We're trying to make a product that makes somebody happy. If it doesn't make them happy, they are not buying it and your out of business. So the whole thing is about delivering a "feel good." This is what it is all about. Now you get that feeling when you are dealing with a customer one on one and she is dealing with her customer who is in the store at the same time you are.

HATTIE: (Voiceover) Fashion. It's tough. Dog eat dog. Squeezing profits from seams. The business is unrelenting and unforgiving, but somehow Bud and Nicole have built a place where people want to work.

NICOLE: Everybody I have here now, started as an intern. I have taken a lot of people from Rhode Island School of Design, which was where I went. I have two from there... another girl Parsons. I have so many interns passing through here that if somebody I think is really good – then maybe when they get out school, I hire them.

NICOLE: " let's take that one."

HATTIE: So when you see her sketches, you probably know what she is thinking.

TATY: Yes, I am supposed to.

HATTIE: Do you have fun doing this – is this fun for you?

TATY: Yes – I love it – I love my work.

HATTIE: you are the person who says, "this works with this fabric or it doesn't."

SUZY: Right.

HATTIE: Is it fun?

SUZY: It is – I enjoy. For me, this is like my home and my co-workers are like my family.

NICOLE: So everything else on this chart is pretty much done.

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