View from the Top For Vanderzee, NYC Life is Beautifully 'Bazaar'

Allison Shumate (05)

The view out the windows at 300 West 57th Street in New York City offers a view of the quintessential Big Apple: skyscrapers as far as the eye can see and people bustling on the street below hailing cabs and running for the subway. 

The view inside the building is one of glamour, style and sophistication: racks of gorgeous high-fashion clothing, rows of beautiful shoes and every new beauty product imaginable. 

Amber Vanderzee (09) enjoys both views from her desk at Harper’s Bazaar.

Amber’s journey to Harper’s Bazaar began at a summer internship at a small radio station in South Dakota. The summer job included a trip to a radio convention in Minneapolis, Minn., where she met a contact with Billboard magazine.

“I e-mailed him every couple of months – reminding him who I was and where we had met,” said Amber, a Sioux Falls, S.D., native

Persistence paid off the following summer with an internship at Billboard. While mostly filled with “little intern type jobs,” the position did come with the opportunity to do some design work … and an introduction to life in New York City.

Though she started as an English major at OC, Amber soon found herself in the art department studying graphic design. 

Her BFA in graphic design taught her everything from the basics in drawing of proportion and scale to the complex design skills she uses today as a design assistant at Harper’s Bazaar.

She began interning at Harper’s Bazaar in 2008 after her time at Billboard and another year at OC. A year later, she earned a job offer from the magazine just a month after graduation. 

Amber loves fashion. Every day, she is surrounded by $5,000 dresses and shoes most people could never afford. 

She never imagined having a job where you would ask your coworker “who has the Prada dress?” The position allows her the opportunity to study and stay up on all the trends, something she would be doing anyway.

While most of the clothing in the magazine is out of reach for most, the recent turn in the economy pushed the magazine to do more budget-friendly stories. Amber says she has witnessed a change in story direction and focus since her time as an intern back in 2008.

In her role as a design assistant, Amber typically lays out five or six pages per issue. She also is in charge of the art for pages. 

Once the magazine has all the photos of an accessory or another item for a page, she gathers all the images for the fashion editors to choose from. From there, the layout is completed with dummy text and sent to the editors for their additions.

As one of the youngest members of the Harper’s Bazaar team, Amber knows she has landed an incredible opportunity at a very young age. She doesn’t take it for granted.

“I did a lot of working my way up while I was in school, ” she said. “Out of my four years at OC, I only had two semesters that lacked some form of internship.” 

Amber’s transition from OC to NYC hasn’t been as difficult as some might think. She currently lives on the Upper East Side. She rides the subway to work every day on her 45-minute commute. She has found good friends and support at Manhattan Church of Christ. 

She’s living a dream, but she’s still trying to decide what her dream job is.

“I know for sure I want to be at a magazine,” she said. “But I think I have a while to figure it out.” 

Until she does, her view at 300 West 57th Street will continue to inspire and drive her to reach all her goals.


Summer 2010

View more stories from the Summer 2010 issue of Vision magazine.