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How We Leveraged Drupal to Empower Free Fashion Internships' Admins

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Published:November 27, 2018
Last Modified:July 20, 2022

At its core, FreeFashionInternships connects candidates to internships in the fashion industry. The company, started March 2007 by Carla Isabel Carstens, attracts top fashion brands and tens of thousands of students who are seeking internships each year.

FreeFashionInternships (FFI) manages a website with fashion internship listings to bring companies and internship seekers together. Their openings span across couture and high fashion to athletics and action sports, with positions ranging from design to marketing and public relations. And, as you can imagine, things are constantly changing within the fashion industry.

When Carla approached us, she was looking for a better way to manage internships, more robust administrative features, and a fresh design to match the "high fashion" aesthetic that her users expect. After some research, we proposed building a modern progressive web application integrated with a headless Drupal back-end that would improve the experience for Carla, the whole FreeFashionInternships team, and their users.

Background on Content Management Systems

A content management system, also called a CMS, is an application used to manage web content. You can think of a CMS as a web portal that allows multiple people to write, edit, and publish web content – from the content on a web page to blog posts, job listings, and more.

If you have used WordPress, then you are already familiar with a CMS!

At Tragic Media, we have experience leveraging a variety of CMS platforms for our customers, and we find ourselves often using Drupal. Drupal is an open-source content management system that is flexible, making it the perfect base for many business applications.

Millions of websites and web applications are powered by Drupal – ranging from static websites, ecommerce stores, and even the website! When evaluating content management systems, we prefer solutions that are open source, highly extensible, and integrate well with other web services. Drupal checks all of those boxes.

How Tragic Media Leveraged Drupal to Empower FFI’s Admins

Proper web application architecture is crucial to delivering great experiences at scale. Without the right architecture, you can spend months of development time and waste thousands of dollars trying to fix a broken foundation. The FFI solution was designed from the ground up to leverage the latest Drupal 8 tools, including its REST services, which powers the front-end JavaScript application.

Because the data natively flows through Drupal, admins can access this data with ease. As a result, anyone on the FreeFashionInternships team can solve user issues – fast.

This level of visibility dramatically improves internal operations and the customer experience. From a technical perspective, we could focus our design and development efforts on delivering high-value features instead of simply getting things to work together.

Proper web application architecture is crucial to delivering great experiences at scale.

Account Management & Authentication

The native Drupal system was used for account management and authentication. As a result, all intern and company users are viewable in the Drupal admin. If a user is having problems verifying their account via Twilio’s two-factor authentication, an admin can find and unblock that particular user account with ease.

If needed, the admin could also reset or delete any user. This level of flexibility was available out-of-the-box and provides two key benefits – it saves the FFI team time and allows customers to have their issues resolved much faster.

Payments & Other Ecommerce Features

Leveraging Drupal Commerce, all ecommerce payments are viewable in the admin, enabling FreeFashionInternships administrators to have a single interface to manage the entire application. In the Commerce interface, admins can view all transactions, ensure that payments were received, and provide refunds if necessary.

In addition, using Drupal Commerce enables us to build additional reporting views around revenue, transactions per user, number of refunds, and more without having to integrate with third-party vendors. Remember, the payments data is already flowing through Drupal!

Integrating Data with Email

To drive further engagement and keep people up-to-date on the latest internship opportunities, we built a weekly internship digest email. This email automatically pulls the latest internships posted to the Drupal system and formats them into an email.

If they want, FFI admins have the ability to sort, add, or remove internships from that list anytime before the weekly email blast. As a result, the best opportunities are always being showcased! The weekly digest email is a great example of automation and human curation working together, saving time and still allowing an editorial touch where needed.

Furthermore, users can manage their email subscription in their user accounts. This allows users to opt in or opt out of emails depending on whether they are actively seeking new internship opportunities.

The weekly digest email is a great example of automation and human curation working together, saving time and still allowing an editorial touch where needed.

Reporting & Performance Monitoring

The Tragic Media team built a filterable reporting view, which gives clients the ability to drill down to their core performance metrics. Simply put, the Drupal system stores all of the data and enables administrators to hone in on specific KPIs and relevant data.

We also built this administrative reporting view to be expandable, to provide more of a "dashboard" user interface in the future, should this be required. This is yet another example of how the right foundation can provide beneficial for years to come.

Key Outcomes & Objectives

FreeFashionInternships now has a powerful Drupal content management system that allows admins to search internships by company name, check internship status, or make adjustments on the fly.

Drupal Admin Screenshot


Drupal Admin Screenshot

In addition, the FFI Admin allows staff members to generate custom reports, view user accounts (e.g., to help with password reset), and view all ecommerce transactions.

Drupal Admin Screenshot

We also created a custom Drupal view that allows admins to view the subject line and body for each of the automated emails that are sent off. For instance, admins can update the message for when a payment is received to reflect a new policy – without needing to rely on a developer.

Drupal Admin Screenshot

All of these changes come together to make the FFI team offer a more seamless user experience from beginning to end!


Carla wanted to upgrade the FreeFashionInternships web application. Utilizing Drupal and other modern tools, Tragic Media crafted a great experience for all parties: internship seekers, fashion brands, and the FFI team.

When architecting a solution for our clients, we always strive to create something useful, elegant, and scalable. In this case, our solution allows FreeFashionInternships staff to update their application content, oversee internship listings, monitor payments, and market their brand with ease.

Furthermore, their personalized Drupal configuration allows team members to solve customer issues on the spot, without needing to turn to software developers. Something that cannot be said of most web applications today.

Interested in learning more about Drupal or how Tragic Media can improve your customer experience? Contact us today for a free consultation!

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