Intro Title
Advisory Board Q&A: Julie Verdugo, Senior Director of Sustainability + Social Impact, Free People

Julie Verdugo is an active and passionate member of LIM’s Fashion Industry Advisory Board. Drawing on her experience as Senior Director of Sustainability + Social Impact at Urban Outfitters and Free People, Julie is involved with classroom collaborations, guest lecturing, and mentoring a new generation of students interested in sustainability and impact.

Why did you decide to join the LIM Fashion Industry Advisory Board?
I wanted to be able to practically shine a light for students on what a career in sustainability + impact can look like within the industry, to openly collaborate with other industry leaders around topics that impact our industry, and to expand my own awareness of issues directly impacting our future industry leaders.

What are some of the activities you have been involved with as an Advisory Board member?

Classroom collaboration: I had the pleasure of collaborating with former LIM professor Andrea Kennedy in courses such as Applied Sustainable Practices and Storytelling for Sustainability. This collaboration allowed students to work on real-life projects—from supply chain mapping of one of our sustainable collections to writing sustainability-centric editorial pieces published on our Free People website.

Guest lecturing: I have truly enjoyed being able to bring my practical experience directly to the classroom to help educate current and prospective students on what a career in Sustainability + Social Impact truly looks like in practice.

Mentorship: Having the opportunity to participate in the mentorship program was the cherry on top of my Board experience. I truly connected with my mentee, Helena Miller ‘23, and beyond a current and future industry colleague I’ve also found a friendship!

What do you like most about being on the Advisory Board?
Directly collaborating with the students regularly has been the best part of my Board experience. Looking into the brains of future industry leaders fuels my professional faith in the industry's future, and I also believe this exposure prepares me to be a more informed and empathetic leader.

Have you ever hired LIM students or alumni as interns or employees?
Yes! We recently hired an LIM grad I directly collaborated with on various LIM-hosted industry panels to our Free People team as a sample coordinator. Through our classroom collaborations and industry panels, Rebecca Margolis ‘21 had the chance to stand out and directly prove her professionalism during all of our interactions. When she expressed interest in working for Free People, I was honored to get the chance to put her forward for an incredibly well-deserved role!

How would you describe LIM's reputation within the business of fashion and lifestyle?
LIM is highly regarded across the industry, especially due to its high prioritization of industry relations. I am always blown away by the number of LIM students I meet who even in their second and third years have multiple industry work experiences under their belt.

What makes LIM different from other fashion colleges?
LIM stands out across other academic institutions because of its prioritization of industry collaboration. The merging of academia and industry experience is an absolute recipe for success, yet an extremely rare blend that truly sets the college apart.

Why is it so important for college students to complete internships?
Internships are vital for testing a professional hypothesis. Concepts in practice can look extremely different once applied in the “real world” in comparison with academic assumptions. Internships help students beta test their interests early, as well as helping employers beta test a potential employee, to best set both student and employer up for an ideal professional fit.