For most undergraduate students, locating an internship requires you to browse through Glassdoor, Indeed, or LinkedIn, and submit a preliminary online application to capture a hiring manager’s attention. However, my partnership with Aerie began with a simple direct message on Instagram.
How Aerie Contacted Me
While most DMs scream “unprofessional” because they utilize poor grammar, attempt to re-route you to a link, or incentive you to become an ambassador for only a % off their merchandise, the message I received from Youth Marketing on May 11, 2018 appeared to be legitimate:
“Hey Kim! YMC & @aerie are teaming up in search of confident, authentic, and genuine women to represent the brand on your campus as a REAL ambassador this fall! You would bring the #AerieReal message to life through on-campus events & social media, all while getting paid & receiving lots of free Aerie products! Are you interested?”
Obviously, I was interested at the time and proceeded to ask about the process of becoming an ambassador, the time commitment, and an Aerie ambassador’s responsibilities.
#AerieReal Ambassador Application
After researching the roles of past ambassadors, skimming Glassdoor reviews of Youth Marketing Connection, and reading articles about the success of the #AerieReal movement, I was hooked. Not only did Aerie offer great loungewear and intimate apparel, but the company also had a tangible mission to boost the self-esteem of its customers.
I was attracted to Aerie’s authentic, positive, and uplifting media campaign in an era where magazine advertisements, television programs, and social media platforms showcase airbrushed, photoshopped women with perfectly curated lives.
I decided to fill out the Aerie REAL Ambassador Program application for 2018-2019 through Youth Marketing Connection. When I submitted my Aerie application, I didn’t anticipate being chosen. I also wasn’t scared of the potential for rejection – I had nothing to lose! Submitting my Aerie application was a spur-of-the-moment decision that happened to work out.
I’m not sure if any of you have experienced this, but I find that I rarely secure a position when I arrive over-prepared, nervous, or overeager to impress. On the other hand, when I’m relaxed and confident and adopt a “what’s the worst that could happen” outlook, I secure great opportunities.
After submitting my application to Youth Marketing Connection, I had a phone interview with YMC’s Program Strategist. I was required to submit a creative assignment to showcase my personality and style.
This assignment encouraged me to tell my #AerieREAL story and create a sample #AerieReal Instagram post! On July 9th, I received a phone call that I had been accepted to the program! I was so happy to hear the news and filled out all the paperwork to secure my position. I was also so excited to advance the #AerieREAL mission at UC Berkeley and to generate awareness for body positivity and self-love!
On August 8th, I flew to Pittsburgh to Aerie’s HQ for all-expenses-paid, in-house training on succeeding as an Aerie Ambassador! Although the flight was a mess because I nearly missed my connecting flight in Vegas, I made it in time!
When I first arrived in Pittsburgh and loaded into the suburban, our driver told great stories of the city’s history, including Carnegie’s Steel Company, Henry Flick’s rift with Carnegie, the mass influx of German, Scottish, Irish, and Polish immigrants in the late 19th century, and the emergence of the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1933.
Quick fact: Pittsburgh has more bridges than Venice! The chauffeur company dropped us off at the Indigo Hotel, which was located right by the Monongahela River. Aerie’s in-house training was beneficial because it taught each ambassador how to lead on-campus events, create on-brand social media content for Aerie, and effectively promote Aerie’s gifted looks on-campus and in our social media posts!
Visiting Aerie’s Corporate Campus was such a unique experience! I got to know so many amazing women, participated in an 8 am yoga class, toured Aerie’s office, got a sneak peek at Aerie’s Fall apparel, and attended a training session led by Aerie’s creative team!
Luckily, Aerie’s HQ was only a short walk from the Indigo Hotel. On our last night, we crossed the Hot Metal Bridge to Hofbräuhaus, a German brewery with plenty of beer and Bavarian fare. After eating, a few of us stayed behind to listen to the live band on the patio. It was a bittersweet night because our amazing trip was coming to a close.
Meeting 40+ Aerie ambassadors from 20 college campuses across the United States was an experience I’ll never forget. As the only Californian in attendance, it was amazing to see a diverse crowd of strong, passionate, and driven women come together to advance a great brand! I’m thankful to Aerie for the opportunity and Youth Marketing Connection for ensuring the trip was a success!
Today, I am continuing to promote Aerie’s mission at UC Berkeley! Aerie gives me a monthly stipend, $100 in store credit, and 30% off all products to sponsor their clothing! In return, I promote the brand by posting regular content on Instagram and Snapchat, occasional updates on Facebook or Twitter, and by leading on-campus events and tactics!
In these two photos, I featured a few of my favorite items! Right now, I love Aerie’s bras, bralettes, and underwear! If you have any questions, feel free to contact me on Instagram (@kimchwlek) and I’ll give you more recommendations!
I admire and respect the #AerieREAL Ambassador Program’s role in searching for women who embodied Aerie’s core identity: “Real. Empowering. Honest. Fun. Smart. Inspiring. Sexy. Kind. Diverse. Game Changer. Strong.”
Since Aerie committed itself to a “no-retouching” policy in 2014, its sales have soared. In fact, Aerie’s sales rose 32% in the fist quarter of fiscal 2016. If you are interested in learning more about the impact of Aerie’s REAL marketing campaign, check out this article.
I believe that the success of Aerie’s no-retouching policy is a testament to the importance of making women feel confident and empowered. According to Aerie’s Global Brand President, Jennifer Foyle, “The purpose of ‘Aerie Real’ is to communicate there is no need to retouch beauty, and to give young women of all shapes and sizes the chance to discover amazing styles that work best for them.”
As always, if you have any questions about upcoming #AerieReal events at UC Berkeley or my experience as an ambassador, please leave them in the comments section!