Jenny Junker

Jenny Junker pushes herself out of her comfort zone to excel in apparel merchandising

Jenny Junker always knew she wanted to work in the fashion world, but she wasn’t sure in what way – designing didn’t appeal to her. However, she also grew up with a passion for business. When she discovered apparel merchandising, she knew it was the perfect fit for her.

Being as comfortable as she is in her major, Jenny thrives in and outside of her classes. She helped co-found the Iowa State chapter of the National Retail Federation (NRF) this year, which allows students “to explore diverse career paths within the retail industry and receive exclusive educational and employment opportunities” according to the description on their student organization page. She was also the director of alumni and community relations in the Fashion Show her sophomore year.

“I heard constant good things about [the Fashion Show],” Jenny said. “That was just a great community and great way to get to know people.”

Jenny was able to help start the Iowa State chapter of NRF after she received a scholarship to be part of their student program last January. She traveled to New York City with other apparel and design merchandising students across the U.S. and attended a gala in Times Square, participated in a career fair with many established companies within the fashion industry, and more.

Although she said it was nerve-wracking introducing herself to people in New York, she knew it was worth it.

“I feel like I’m kind of shy in those situations,” Jenny said. “[I told myself] this is the big league – I just have to go for it.”

This experience, along with what she’s learned in her classes, is what helped her land an internship in New York City this past summer with Haddad Brands.

“In AMD 376 we learn how to create a six-month buying plan, and I could show that to recruiters when looking for internships,” Jenny said. “[Professors and faculty] do a really great job of making sure what we’re learning is reflective of the industry.”

As for advice on applying for scholarships such as the one she got through NRF, Jenny said getting outside of your comfort zone is necessary.

“Don’t be scared to [go for it],” she said. “Especially younger students – you can get intimidated, and I talked myself out of things when I was [an underclassman]. Ask for advice from staff because they want to help, and they’re always there for you.”