The Office of Alumni and Faculty Relations is excited to start working with Caleb Poling, FITSA’s new Vice President of Alumni Affairs! The role was previously held by Anubhuti Swarup, who did tremedous work strengthening the relationships between students and alumni, and who has now been elected President of FITSA. Poling will continue to execute existing student-alumni programs and is setting out to launch new ones. We caught up with Poling, a Fashion Merchandising Management major, who told us about his dream to attend FIT, his blog and interests, and some of the exciting plans he has for connecting students with alumni in the coming year. Read all about this rising star!
You originally attended Georgia State and transferred to FIT. What prompted you to make that decision?
FIT was my dream school in high school, but I didn’t get in when I first applied. Instead, I attended Georgia State and studied marketing. After one year I decided I would reapply for FIT so I could be in New York and have the amazing resources students have at FIT. I was accepted, and now I’m here doing exactly what I’ve always wanted to.
What’s your major and year?
This is my second year of college, first year at FIT; studying Fashion Merchandising Management to obtain a one-year associates degree. Next semester I will begin my first year of the bachelor’s program for Fashion Merchandising as well.
What have been some of your favorite courses and professors?
Some of my favorite courses here at FIT have been Contemporary Retail Management with Professor Jean Jacullo, Team Development Workshop with Professor Robert Vassalotti, Fashion Marketing with Professor Alfred Sloan, and Introduction to the Fashion Industry with Professor Joanne Offerman. They were all great at sharing industry experience as well as connecting with students in the class.
Your blog, Skinny Suspenders, is fantastic! Do you feel that blogging and interviewing industry professionals has informed your coursework or helped you make real-world connections?
Thank you! I launched Skinny Suspenders in April of 2009, back when I was in high school. Since starting it I’ve sat front row at New York Fashion Week, been invited to numerous industry events, visited showrooms, and interviewed talented individuals within the fashion industry. It has allowed me to make amazing connections, but also to apply what I learn in the classroom to what is actually happening in the real world.
What made you want to run for FITSA VP of Alumni Affairs?
I attended a Leadership Workshop this spring through FIT and it really inspired me. It was a weekend trip that included about 40 FIT students who wanted to learn how to become a better leader. One of the things we discussed was FITSA, as they are some of the main leaders on campus. When I read about what the position of VP of Alumni Affairs does, I knew it was the perfect match for me. It allows for me to connect the students and alumni together, as they both have something to offer one another.
What projects and programs do you hope to execute that will help connect alumni to FIT in ways that benefit both students and alumni?
We already have such great programs set in place here at FIT, such as the Shadowing Program, so my goal is to fine-tune the things already set in place, as well as create new ones. I would love to set something up for groups of current students to tour alumni’s work places. The goal is to allow for students to go off campus and get a glimpse of the real world, and for alumni to come back to campus to get a glimpse of the world they were apart of before.
From a student’s perspective, how important is the role of alumni in students’ success?
I think it’s very important, I’m just not sure we as students are always aware of the impact that alumni can have on us. It’s important to know the people who went before us, who do the things we want to do, who have experienced the things we are experiencing. FIT is its own little world, and it’s a privilege to be a part of it. Alumni can offer students advice, and in some cases even act as a mentor. The people of our past could easily be the ones who help guide us into our future.
Are there any alumni in particular that you have met or know of who inspire you?
I’ve spoken to a Fashion Design alum that now designs men’s neckties under his label, Ivy Prepster, and is sold all around the country. Others who inspire me are Joy Herfel, Candy Pratts Price, David Chu, and Francisco Costa.
What do you plan to do after graduating?
I plan on working on the menswear part of the industry, potentially a Style Director or Style Editor for an online men’s store. I have the mind of an entrepreneur so I want to do something new. I could even see myself branding my blog and making it become something bigger. I think the key is to know where you want to go, and then being open-minded on how you go about getting there.
Where do you draw inspiration?
From people. People who quietly work hard and don’t seek praise, from people who are naturally talented and don’t force it, from people who would rather do the work than just talk about doing the work. Also from my surroundings, because not a day goes by that I don’t wake up and feel so grateful for making it here.
What is the best advice you’ve received?
“If you truly desire to serve some purpose, all you have to do is think for yourself, and begin paying attention.”