Images Courtesy of: Megan Hess
I just finished my last day as a fashion intern and boy has it been an eye opening experience! I’m sure many of you reading this right now have either thought about applying for an internship, are currently an intern or look at fashion interns’ Instagram feed wide-eyed wondering “How can I get that job?!”…
Well I am here to tell you that it’s not easy, but SO worth the work in the end. I was lucky enough to do an internship in Milan and learn from some experienced people in the field who were wiling to take the time to teach me and include me in their daily tasks. Unfortunately I know that reality is that this is not always the case and I too feared that my fashion internship would be running around in heels with trays of hot espresso for everyone. Now I did serve an espresso or two, but luckily I was trusted with much bigger tasks as well!
I wanted to take a moment as I look back on my 6-month internship and share with you some of the things I’ve learned so that any of you thinking about applying for a fashion internship might have some more insight. Before I do that though, please remember that experiences can only be what you make of them and I am a super positive person so I always try to make the best out of any situation. Also I did my internship in Milan, so if you’re applying in the USA or anywhere else in the world, your experience may be different than mine (for example I know that in some areas of the USA unpaid internships are still allowed).
So here you have it, a few tips, tricks and things to remember before starting your fashion internship:
1.You don’t have to wear heels! I know this sounds crazy, but nobody will judge you on the height of your heel or if you can survive all day in them (believe me you don’t get a medal at 5:30 if you’re still standing). You want to be comfortable because you’ll be everyone’s go-to girl for anything and everything and need to be ready to go go go (especially if someone has a fashion emergency!). There are so many ways to rock other types of shoes like: ballerina flats, wedges, bootie heels or even sneakers and still look totally fabulous (and hireable).
2. Make the most out of any situation. I think that if you are willing to look past the negatives (that we often see first) then you will quickly realize that there is a bright side to the situation as well! Bringing someone an espresso might mean meeting your new boss or the CEO of an important company – remember to smile!
3. Stay humble. Maybe it’s just me but I really don’t think people like to be around others who show off or think things are below them. As an intern you have so many opportunities if you take the chance with each and every one of them! Don’t be afraid to speak up and ask for more to do, but know that there is a benefit in each task and nothing is too small.
4. Take the pay cut the experience is TOTALLY worth it! Although most internships, mine included, don’t pay very much the experience makes everything worth it in the end. You have the chance to get hands on work experience and meet some influential people in the fashion industry. I was hesitant at first because of trying to balance my budget, but if you’re able to make it work, I would definitely say make the sacrifice.
5. Work hard. You might think you’re invisible and nobody notices the work you do, or that maybe it’s only a small task and therefore useless, but people do notice and remember. Last year Diane von Furstenberg came to speak to our BS4F group and said that the best work advice she could ever give us (because it was given to her in the past as well) was “Be the first to arrive and the last to leave the office”! Boy was she ever right! Hard work and dedication shows that you really want to be there and that you love what you’re doing.
6. Dress to impress. Remember number one when I said you don’t need to wear heels, well that’s still true (comfort is so important), but that’s no excuse not to look good everyday. We all have our “off” days when we don’t feel like making that extra effort, but if you (like me) want to work in the fashion industry it’s because you also have an inner fashionista who wants to shine. This is your moment to let her shine and make even a pair of leggings look edgy and fashionable! There’s no need to be covered in fashion labels, I think that showing your creativity through your clothing is a great way of showing your ability to express yourself daily and make others remember you. Also let’s be honest – you’re on a fashion intern’s budget, like Tim Gunn says “Make it WORK!”
I am so happy that my internship turned into a full time job, and am SO happy to go forward with my career in the fashion industry. Remember there is more to the life of a fashion intern than what we share on Instagram – there’s lots of hard work, long nights, blistered feet and shots of espresso (I can’t wait until Italy FINALLY gets a Starbucks), but if you put 100% in you will reap the benefits in the end!