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Interning with Open Arms

Kristina Kieu, TXA Fashion Merchandising student, recently interned as a Production Assistant with Open Arms, a small contract manufacturing company based in Austin.

"My position as an assistant allowed me to gain insight into manufacturing," says Kieu. "I was able to learn and enhance new skills like sewing on an industrial machine and time management. Open Arms encouraged me to voice my opinions, take initiatives, and be creative. The internship was incredibly rewarding and an experience I'll never forget."

As a division of the Multicultural Refugee Coalition, Open Arms aims to empower refugee women through livable wage employment opportunities. 

One of the contracts was with IKEA. Open Arms used donated textiles from IKEA and up-cycled them into limited-edition home interior goods available for purchase exclusively in the Houston, Dallas and Austin area.

"I worked with three amazing and talented women from Burma that were the backbone of the operation," says Kieu. " During our lunch breaks, we learned about each other's culture and bonded over tacos. They have become an inspiration for me to work hard for my dreams and aspirations."