Sean Burke ’17 spent last year working as an assistant creative director at Kiel James Patrick (KJP), where he helped shape and grow the company’s social media presence. Returning to HWS this semester, Burke says the “real-world” experience changed his perspective and refined his academic focus.
“I’ve come back with a more serious attitude toward school and I’m now able to approach my classes and say ‘this is what I would like to learn and this is what’s going to be useful to me in my career,” says Burke, who plans to declare a major in media and society.
KJP makes men’s and women’s apparel, jewelry and accessories including boat shoes with a “classic New England style” using 100 percent American-made materials out of their Pawtucket, R.I., factory. The company is entirely social media based, meaning they do all of their advertising and promotional activities via social media by posting photos of themselves wearing their clothing and accessories.
While Burke says there was no “typical day at the office,” some of his responsibilities included content creation, social media strategy development, and photography for Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Tumblr.
Marketing and social media business trips brought Burke across the country and around the globe, as he networked with representatives and photographers from some of the most sought after brands in the world like Brooks Brothers, L.L. Bean, and Vineyard Vines. Burke says one of the highlights was a trip to Tokyo and Osaka, Japan with Brooks Brothers, who are one of KJP’s private labels.
Some of Burke’s other notable experiences include sailing with members of the America’s Cup sailing team, attending the Ralph Lauren Show at Fashion Week, and travelling to Georgia for the Masters Tournament.
Through his position at KJP – which came about after Burke completed an internship in the summer of 2014 and was asked to stay on full-time – Burke also advanced his photography skills and grew a social media following of his own, with nearly 50,000 Instagram followers. For more than a year, Burke has also run his own photography website and recently starting selling his prints.
“After the internship I was thrown into a real world opportunity, and I got to see how all of the clothing for companies like Brooks Brothers and KJP was produced,” says Burke. “But when I was in the field learning from successful entrepreneurs or designers or photographers, I also realized the importance of a formal education and having an economics or finance background.”