Intercos Hires 2021 Grad as an Account Development Coordinator
Born into an artistic family, Shira Berman grew up in Los Angeles where she visited the FIDM Museum & Galleries as a child. Raised with a sense of independence and creativity, Shira could be found making her own magazines complete with hand-drawn beauty advertisements for her imaginary products. “I was always making my own little businesses,” she said. “This mix of creativity and an entrepreneurial mindset definitely has led me to where I am today.” Shira planned to work as a professional makeup artist, but after she discovered the Beauty Marketing & Product Development program at FIDM, she decided to apply to earn an A.A. degree first, which opened her eyes to the business side of the beauty world. She continued her studies in the Beauty Industry Management program, and earlier this year, Shira graduated from FIDM with a B.S. in Business Management. In the midst of the pandemic and a challenging job market, she was hired by Intercos, one of the world’s largest cosmetic manufacturing companies, as an Account Development Coordinator. We chatted with Shira to learn more about her FIDM journey, new position, and ultimate career goals.
What was your path to FIDM? My path to FIDM was not always an easy decision. In high school, I started to do makeup and had some pretty consistent bookings, so I thought that I wanted to be a celebrity or film/TV makeup artist. I did not want to go to college at all because it wasn’t necessary to be a makeup artist. With a bit of parental encouragement, as well as some self-reflection, I realized it would be best to go to college to at least get a degree, and then I could still be a makeup artist afterward. I stumbled upon a FIDM Career Quiz through a Facebook ad and that’s where I learned about the Beauty Marketing & Product Development major. This opened my eyes to a whole side of the beauty industry that was beyond makeup artistry. And at that point, I had also started going on set for different short films and music videos and I realized how exhausting it was. I did not know if that was still what I wanted to do in the long run. With all of this in mind, I applied to FIDM as a junior in high school and got accepted through the early admissions program.
How did you choose your initial FIDM major? Later in high school, I started doing makeup professionally and fell more in love with products and formulas. The growth of influencers and the YouTube beauty community in particular was also a major influence, allowing me to learn a lot about products and brands and really find a true passion. The beauty major at FIDM allowed me to explore a whole new side of the beauty industry that I didn’t initially think I could be a part of: the corporate/brand side.
Did you have any internships while in school? Did FIDM help you get them? I had two internships while in school, and FIDM definitely supported me and helped me get them. Before that though, I was the Beauty Editor of FIDM MODE Magazine. I consider this an internship even though it is not technically one. This allowed me to really build my FIDM family and was a great starting piece for my resume. It was also awesome to showcase my editorial side as well as my makeup artistry. My first internship was in brand marketing with Petite ‘n Pretty, an innovative and fun brand geared towards teens, tweens, and kids. I heard about this and applied through FIDM because Tina Perez, the director of the beauty majors, sent out some information about it to the students and then forwarded my application directly. I then interviewed and was hired by Caitie Woo Nobles, who is also a graduate of FIDM. Later, Caitie actually went back to teach at FIDM as well. This was my first ever experience in the corporate side of the industry, and I loved every minute of it and learned so much. It was so nice to also be at a new, indie brand because there was a lot of potential and I got to see growth and milestones first-hand, such as launching in Ulta while I was there, hitting 100,000 followers, et cetera.
My second internship was in social media marketing at Hourglass Cosmetics, which is a much larger brand known for cruelty-free and luxury products. I also heard about this through the FIDM Career Center. I definitely spoke to many different people in order to ensure they would see my application. In the end, I think it was Tina who was able to make the final push and connected me directly with the coordinator at the time, Janessa Jones, also a graduate of FIDM. I was at Hourglass for a full year and I just really loved my time there. I got to take on a lot of responsibility and feel like I really had ownership and deep knowledge over many things, for instance, I had a lot of fun writing lots of captions for our audience. It taught me so much about project and timeline management, the team and I were overseeing six social platforms every day.
What led you to continue your studies at FIDM after finishing your degree? I graduated from the Beauty Marketing & Product Development program in 2019 and then continued on to the Advanced Beauty Industry Management Program and graduated from that in 2020. Since I had already been at FIDM for three years by that point, it was an easy transition to stay for one final year and complete my Bachelor’s. Additionally, I know that in this job market, a Bachelor’s degree is pretty necessary, and the Business Management program, in particular, allows for a wider range of knowledge beyond beauty. At the end of the day, I do have a business-oriented degree, so I could really have flexibility and go into any field if for some reason I wanted to change my focus from the beauty industry.
Tell us about working as a professional makeup artist: Makeup artistry was my first entrance into the industry and will always be a love of mine. I have been fortunate enough to have worked on a range of makeup jobs, from short films/television, to everyday women, to clients for the Oscars. It is where I can be creative, but it is also where I gathered a lot of knowledge on products and brands as I applied them to all different kinds of people. My business has been on pause since COVID started. I’d like to start up again as things improve with the pandemic. My hope is that it will remain a great side hustle and creative outlet for me.
How did your new position at Intercos came about? My new position at Intercos is as an Account Development Coordinator. Intercos is one of the top cosmetic manufacturers in the world with 15 locations, and headquartered in Italy. Roughly 90 percent of the brands in Sephora have probably worked with Intercos, so it’s a really exciting place to be. Previously, I have been on the brand side, so it’s really refreshing to be on the manufacturing side where I can experience working with a multitude of brands, and I don’t feel boxed in by having to stick to one brand’s target market or mission. Finding my perfect job was definitely a journey. Ruth Ritchie in the Career Center was really there for me throughout this whole process, preparing me for interviews, giving great advice, and helping me if I felt discouraged.
For my new position, I actually found it through FIDM alum Caitie from my very first internship. I initially reached out to her for some advice for another potential role when she also let me know that she knew someone who was hiring at Intercos. Ruth then helped me prepare for everything from my interviews to salary negotiations. I would highly recommend everyone make an appointment with your Career Counselor at FIDM if you are looking for a job!
What does it feel like to land a job right out of school in the middle of a pandemic? It truly feels amazing and I really couldn’t be more grateful. Not only did I start my new job within just a couple of weeks after finishing classes, it was also during one of the most difficult job markets right now with the pandemic, and even more so for recent grads. I am so incredibly grateful to everyone who helped me on this journey, from FIDM staff, former co-workers, friends, and family. I had a huge support system in my job search and I think that’s what really made the difference.
What are your responsibilities in this new role? From what I know now, my role is a mix of product development, client relations, and sales. My job is to connect the top brands (our clients) to our amazing formulas with the goal of those brands putting those formulas on their shelves. My responsibilities start by having meetings with our clients, making selections of formulas/evaluating formulas, and then sending out selections for the brands to test. I then support the client as the product may go through many rounds of customization and evaluation until the desired formula is achieved, and then eventually gets matched to the shades the brand desires. I am the point person for the brand during this process, communicating between the team at the brand, project management, packaging, and our labs around the world.
How do you feel FIDM helped prepare you to work in the industry? FIDM definitely helped prepare me to work in the industry. In the beauty major, I took classes like product development, packaging, marketing, market research, and so many others. Of course the obvious ones like product development and packaging taught me skills that apply directly to my new role. But classes like marketing and research-based classes taught me a lot about the landscape of the industry. Especially now, when I’m dealing with 10-plus brands that are very different from each other, it's super helpful to have the overall industry knowledge that I do and understand the history of the brands and what they are looking for.
FIDM also prepared me with what I believe is the most valuable thing: starting my network. I know that if I went to a traditional university I would not have the same network I do now and I definitely would not be in the same place I am now. The beauty industry is super small, but the connections you can make early on can really make the difference, not just in helping you find a job, but also in finding mentors and lifelong friends.
What are your ultimate career goals? I think at one point I would have said my ultimate career goal would be to own my own brand, but knowing that the market is highly saturated, I’m not sure that that’s my main focus anymore. I definitely want to stay in beauty whether that’s in product development, product marketing, marketing, or something else! COVID has taught me that I need to be flexible, and it’s okay to not know the exact details of what I want to do in the future. Mainly, I want to feel excited about work and fulfilled in what I’m doing wherever that may be. Having the satisfaction of seeing a product or campaign I’ve worked on go from concept to execution is something I’m looking for. Also, I would love to travel in my career, which is another reason I’m so thankful to be at such a huge and global company like Intercos.