Internships are great. You have an area you think you’d be interested in working in and want to try it out, create some useful contacts, and see what’s actually involved in your dream job. Barefaced’s mini series on Internships will give you tips and tricks to nab that internship and shine.
Fashion. Everyone wants to try their hand at fashion it seems, and as luck would have it there are plenty of internships around on offer. As long as you are focused, have drive and are organised you have a pretty good chance of landing one. However a lot of these internships (not all, but a lot) do tend to exploit young people who are naively offering their work for free.
Have you just watched The Devil Wears Prada for the 5th million time? And, despite such a cut-throat portrayal of the fashion world, do you still think, “If Anne Hathaway can endure the wrath of Meryl Streep then I can take on Anna Wintour any day”? Then you probably know that to be in that position, you need to work your way up there first.
To get yourself some work experience at a magazine there are some great websites such as Gorkana.com which offer the latest internships advertised. If your ideal magazine isn’t currently looking it won’t harm to send them a polite covering letter stating what you do, what you want to do, what you can offer them and what you’d like to learn from them. Attach a CV and send to the editor of said publication – usually most mags have special work experience query email addresses set up so it is just a case of scouring the contact page for the right one.
But I want to talk about the actual placement itself. So let’s just say you got yourself an interview (congrats!), made a great first impression and you start next week. Ok, this is where you want to be prepared. Know what is expected of you and how you can get the most out of your time there – there really isn’t much point in spending a month somewhere unpaid and only getting the title of ‘great assistant coffee maker’ out of it to put on your CV.
Sarah*, 18 from London, was so excited about her first internship with a top fashion mag that she let her judgement become clouded and focused more on what to wear to the job rather than what it actually entailed. “I was just so pleased to be there, in those open planned offices which are like some form of holy place of fashion worship, that when I realised my duties were mainly returning clothes to PR companies from the tiny fashion cupboard all day long and doing lunch runs I was left a bit deflated.”
Jenny, 21 from Essex, looked at things in a different light. “I had done some work experience before so I knew what I was letting myself in for. It’s all about positive mindset – I knew I was working towards a goal so I kept reminding myself of that – and it was a perk to see all these amazing clothes come and go.” With each internship she did, Jenny became more confident and by her third one at a weekly magazine she asked for more responsibilities. “I asked if they needed help on photo-shoots, and I even got to help style the models at one point which was just amazing!” Often the people who work there are so busy they can’t hold your hand and pick out tasks for you to do, so be alert and know what’s going on and specifically ask if they’d like assistance. “But you’ll need to keep on top of the returns” laughs Jenny “‘’cos they do pile up.”
Ways to make your internship 100% productive.
Ask! You are there to learn as well as help out, so ask to go on shoots and offer to help wherever you can on jobs that you feel could push you, help at events and fun things as well as the boring work which sadly has to be done too.
Be enthusiastic, but no door mat – you aren’t a slave and you’re most likely not getting paid either.
Know what you’re getting into. If you are going to be working in the fashion cupboard that means returning clothes. It also means you get to see behind the scenes of what a magazine looks like and get a proper taste for it. If it is writing you want to get into be sure that this is specified in the ad or in your query, as these types of internships are harder to come by and you are better off heading to smaller niche publications where they might give you more responsibilities and creative reign (or contribute to Barefaced, jus’ sayin’).
Be polite. Never sass anyone who you work for. If you feel you really aren’t getting anything out of it then ask whoever you are assisting if there are other areas you can work in and if there isn’t then politely ask if they need you for the agreed period of time or if you are able to go on to find something that is more suited to you. It isn’t their fault it’s not for you, and they will find someone who is mad keen as soon as you’re out the door, so why waste each others time.
Make an impression. This basically is all of the above combined, as you want to make a good and lasting impression. If you make the most of your time there and learn and love it, then this has been the first step to your dream career! At the end of your placement thank everyone you worked for and tell them it’s validated you’re ambitions of working in the industry (this isn’t sucking up, it’s NETWORKING) and tell them you’d like to keep in touch if that’s ok. And do keep in touch – an email thanking them again and outlining what you have since done will keep you in their minds for any upcoming jobs or placements. Other interns make great contacts too as they can advise you where is looking and you can share your experiences with each other!*names changed to honour request for anonymity
Have any experiences or comments you want to share? Tell Barefaced!