Kerri Lisa of "Gallery Girls" Talks Interniships, NYC and More [Interview]

It’s rare to see real girls doing real work on reality TV. Usually they’re partying it up on the Jersey Shore or having babies as high school juniors. As much as we love a good drink, some club hits and cute boys, college girls #DoWork too! Which is where Bravo’s newest reality dish Gallery Girls (to read our GG review, click here) comes in. The gallery girls are young, smart and climbing up the art world ladder in their super fashionable stilettos.
You can see a part of yourself in a lot of the girls, but I personally identify with Kerri Lisa the most. I go to her alma mater, Syracuse University. We’re both from big commuter New York City suburbs (Long Island and Staten Island, respectively). And at the beginning of Gallery Girls Kerri moves from her middle class neighborhood into Manhattan, a dream I’d love to fulfill once I’m out of college. Luckily, I got to pick the 24 year old’s brain on her big move, sorority life, and the wonderful world of internships. Read on to get the scoop!
College Candy: Orientation week at Syracuse just started. If you could go back in time, what would you tell First Week of Freshman Year Kerri?
Kerri Lisa: I went into Syracuse and I didn’t know anybody. I took that risk of wanting to meet new people and it was the best decision I’ve ever made.  I met people on my floor and I’m still best, best friends with the people in my building.  Be as outgoing as you possibly can and don’t be afraid to meet new people.
CC: Fast-forwarding a couple years, what’s the number one thing you wish you knew leaving college or as a senior starting their fall semester?
KL: Enjoy every moment, enjoy your freedom. Try to see your friends as much as possible. When you leave everyone sort of disperses. I loved the college life and being able to see my friends all the time. Don’t be so lazy- I know it’s really easy to take a lot of naps and sleep in.
I got caught up in sorority life the first three years, but there are so many other people on campus that may not be in your circle of friends. Go to some of the events on campus or meet other people you may not have spent so much time with. The more people you know the better!
CC: Oh, you were in a sorority, which one?!
KL: I was in Alpha Phi [Alpha Chapter]. I loved it! I mean the whole sorority life is such a crazy experience but it really made my [college] experience what it is. It was like family. I went to an all girls catholic school and really really appreciated the sisterhood and the bond you could have with other women.
CC: Did your membership prepare you for the real world?
KL: It really did. To be in a sorority it requires you to do community service, show up at events and pay your dues. It’s not just a social thing. That was a huge learning skill that I took with me onto the real world after graduation.
A lot of this has to do with how I interact with the girls on the show. You know you’re in a house with a all these different girls. You might have a lot in common which all lead you to that house- but you’re not all the same. You still have to show each other respect, see the good in each other and learn from each other.
CC: You grew up in Long Island, which is close to the city but not directly in it. What was it like finally moving into the Village and living the dream?
KL: It’s obviously not easy and it’s lucky that I had my family close by. I was able to live at home after college and I commuted for a while because I need to save up money. It’s all doable and, with patience and hard work, it really is possible. It’s easy to get caught up in the city but it’s nice to be able to jump on the train and go home to your family.
CC: You got your degree in Triple E (Entrepreneurship and Emerging Enterprises) but your passion is the arts. What’s the best way to deal with that? What advice would you give to girls going through a similar situation?
KL: I just went into Whitman [School of Management] and was like “I don’t really know what I want to do.” I took all of the opportunities I could to do all these different types of internships to learn what I like and what I didn’t like. And over time I was like, “I love all these different types of things. I love art, I love travel, I love business, I love new ideas. How can I make the most of this into a career?”
Don’t be afraid to try an internship that might not be in your major or field.  You might learn things about a different industry that you really like. But you just have to take it one step at a time and believe in your gut that everything you do is going to lead you to where you belong.
CC: When you started working in the art world, did you feel like you had to prove yourself with your mostly business background?
KL: I did feel like I had to prove myself- like no one really understood me. That’s something I struggle with throughout the season. But no, I am just as worthy as these other girls. Just because I didn’t study art history every year at Syracuse doesn’t mean that I didn’t learn different things along the way. Now I’m definitely more confident. The internship with [art advisor] Sharon [Hurowitz] gave me a lot of confidence also because it proved that passion and dedication are just as good as a degree in this other field.
CC: You’ve juggled having a job and an internship at the same time, what do you think is the best way to sane?
KL: I think it’s important to go into something showing the employer that you’re definitely going to give it your all, but don’t take on more than you can handle. There were times that I would get a call from my boss and a call from the woman I was interning for at the same time. And there’s no way to be at too places at once.  Sometimes it’s just best to lay it all out on the table and like “I can be here these two days a week, I hope that’s okay” and try negotiating something. There’s only so much one person can handle.
CC: What tips do you have for someone doing an internship post-college?
KL: That’s something that’s very normal nowadays- I did it. I think it is important and shouldn’t be looked at as a bad thing. Because at the end of the day it’s also a learning experience for you. You’re testing out the company- they’re not just testing out you. Maybe one month into the internship you realize, “Wait I wouldn’t want to be here fully committed. This isn’t for me.” And then you can switch again.
CC: Going back to school means dealing with clashing personalities and drama. In the show, you seem to steer clear of that. How do you do that so well?
KL: For me a lot of it to do with having a lot of female relationships and interactions growing up. In high school, in college and I think we’re grown women at this point. Some of the girls are so unprofessional and you know at the end of the day that kind of goes a long way. When people are mean and rude then there has to be something under there that they’re not happy about. For me I really wanted to give all of the different girls the benefit of the doubt. I’m always excited to met and learn from new people.
CC: You told your dad in a past episode that you had to spend more money than you were used to because of the work-place environment, how did you stay within your means while still looking fabulous?
KL: It’s just about competitive shopping and going into stores that can work a few ways. And I think about my wardrobe [and] not just one dress that has a lot of patterns that you can only wear once. And you don’t have to shop at all the high designer stores, it’s just not reasonable. Just make what you have work! If you’re confident and feel good in what you’re wearing it, comes across really well.
CC: What are the best ways to stand out in an internship?
KL: I think that you really have to do it start to finish. Ask questions! You don’t want to just sit in the corner and do only what you’re told to do. Tell the people that you’re working for you really want to learn- that you want to see what they’re doing, sit next to them. If you show that you’re really interested in it you’ll get more out of it.
CC: Have you seen any not-so-great ways?
KL: I had so many friends who didn’t take it seriously. They don’t have to. They have parents paying for things and parents’ connections. I had so many friends that we would go out one night in the summer and the next day they would be really tired. The other friend is like, “Oh, I’m not gonna go today.” How do you just not do that?
CC: Have you ever had to over come an obstacle in your career or made a mistake during an internship you had to fix? How did you go about that?
KL: There was one internship I had where I thought I was doing a really great job. I went for my mid-intern review and some of the comments were so bad. I was so upset; I was crushed. I had no idea I wasn’t doing what I was supposed to be doing. I think maybe you get too comfortable and you have to ask questions. Don’t ask your supervisor “How am I doing?” when the internship is over.
What happened was that I was on my phone. I’ll be honest. I was texting often when I had nothing to do. That for me was a learning experience. Maybe I should’ve been asking if there was more I could do, so I couldn’t have that downtime with my friends.
CC: I think it’s awesome that you want to be own boss! Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
KL: In five years I definitely hope I have my own company. I see it as a hospitality company that develops boutique hotels and lifestyle products that make people feel good and that also turn art into a new experience.

Still haven’t caught Kerri and the rest of the Gallery Girls? Check out the 5 reasons you absolutely have to here!

[Lead image via Hamptons.com]
Ariana Romero is a student at Syracuse University. Which would probably explain why she once had a load of laundry filled solely  with orange tee shirts. Follow her on Twitter @ArianaRomero17 or read Ariana’s Hollywood ramblings at her blog.

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