SDM ’20 alumni Alyssa Del Valle checks in from Oslo
What program did you study at Parsons Paris and when did you graduate?
I majored in Strategic Design and Management and minored in Fashion Communication. I graduated this past May.
Why did you decide to study in Paris?
Before moving to Paris, I was a student at Parsons in New York for two years. My plan at the time was to only come to Paris for one semester as a study abroad student. My application was rejected because there were no available openings in Paris as a study abroad student.
My options were to not go at all, or to transfer to the Parsons Paris campus for the remaining two years of my studies. Not knowing anyone in France and not speaking a single word of French at the time, I hesitantly chose the latter.
This turned out to be the best decision of my life. Stepping out of my comfort zone like this was huge, but brought me so many opportunities, friendships and experiences that I never would have had otherwise.
Did you participate in any hobbies outside of school?
While I was a student at Parsons Paris, when I wasn’t working at my internships, I loved going to yoga classes. I’ve been practicing yoga since I was about 13, and it has always been my favorite way to de-stress. When I moved to Paris, I found this great yoga studio that’s just a few doors down from Parsons Paris. It’s called Affordable Yoga & Fitness. Classes are all taught in English and are only 6€ per class! They have several studios around Paris and when the weather is nice, they do outdoor classes around the city. I really recommend this place to everyone!
What was the subject of your Capstone Project?
My Capstone Project is a mobile application which focuses on fashion week scheduling and appointment organization for buyers and brands. I was greatly influenced by the internship experiences that I had while studying at Parsons Paris.
I had the opportunity to work with several different showrooms during fashion week such as Roksanda, Tibi and Malone Souliers and as an assistant fashion consultant / fashion week representative for Bloomingdale’s, New York City. It was during these internships that I saw how hectic and time consuming maintaining a fashion week calendar is. I was, and still am, determined to develop the solution for simplified scheduling and organization!
Did our current pandemic affect the decisions you made about your postgraduate direction?
Geographically, yes. My plan was to stay in Paris for maybe another year or so, but as the coronavirus took over, I was unable to do so. My goal has always been to start my own creative company and to be able to work from anywhere in the world. I really love to travel and experience new things so I have never wanted to limit myself to staying in one place for too long anyway. In this regard, thanks to the pandemic, I’m just going with the flow of things. My goal and main direction in life has remained consistent. Now, more than ever, I have had time to work on starting my own business and am working towards developing my Capstone Project even further.
Where are you currently working?
At the moment, I am working on a few different projects. I have received an immense amount of positive feedback on my Capstone Project, so I have decided to continue working on it. I am currently getting all of my legal matters sorted, and then I will be raising funds for development.
Alongside this business, I am working on starting my career as a freelance designer and helping out with some different businesses in my family. I am working as a designer for my mom’s real estate company where my main task over the past few months has been to design maps for different neighborhoods and communities around my hometown of Oklahoma City.
I am designing interactive maps for their website which will act as a guide and source of information for locals and visitors who might be interested in moving there. I am also assisting my dad and aunt with developing their recruiting company. I’m helping them with all things design, for example, their website, logos, business cards and pamphlets.
Did your Parsons Paris degree help as you enter the professional world?
My degree has helped me tremendously with starting my own business and involving creativity in everything that I do. Both of my parents are entrepreneurs, so I’ve always grown up with that sort of mindset. Strategic Design and Management has given me some clarity in the steps that I need to take to become a successful entrepreneur, while allowing me to really dive into my creative side simultaneously.
Are you in touch with any of your classmates?
Yes, absolutely! I still talk with my friends from Parsons Paris and from Parsons New York. We are all currently spread out across the world, so it can be challenging to beat the time differences. We try to catch up as often as we can.
With an alumni perspective, what is the greatest takeaway you got from studying at Parsons Paris?
I think the biggest takeaway I got from studying at Parsons Paris is to take initiative to do things yourself. Your professors are there to give you a rough outline of what’s expected, but you are really the one who decides how far you want to take your studies. Also, stepping out of my comfort zone to find internships and opportunities was a big learning experience about going after what you want, and getting it.
What advice would you give incoming students?
I think the best advice I can give to incoming students is to try to be understanding about cultural differences, be super open minded about new opportunities, travel as often as you can and try to network with everyone. A great way to meet people when you travel is by staying at hostels, trust me on this!