Internships are a funny one, most internships are unpaid and interns are usually overworked. However, they are also a great opportunity for you to ‘learn’ and also try out different roles for short periods of time. I have heard so many horror stories about internships and how people have been taken advantage of for no pay or very little pay. There are so many issues with fashion internships, but, taking on a few internships early in your career is a great way to gain experience as well as figure out what your interests are.
PROS: Great on your CV | Confidence boost and great for making contacts | Possible paid role at the end if you’re good | Great Learning experience | Little commitment – can always leave if unhappy.
CONS: Full-time job commitments & hours without the pay | Waste of time if the role is not what you expected.
Now, let’s look at my history of interning. I would highly recommend you try as many roles as you can if you’re interning, it’s great if you find what you like early on but sometimes you need to do a few short term roles to really find yourself.
Fashion Intern at a designers studio
I did my first internship (completely unpaid) when I was 15 with a young designer and it was a great experience. Even though I worked odd hours and the office was her living room in an obscure part of town, I absolutely enjoyed the experience.
After graduating from Uni and Fashion School, I knew that I enjoyed working with brands and so I took on an internship with a company that was involved with emerging designers. It was a great role where I took on different responsibilities and I was given a lot of encouragement from the team.
Brand & Marketplace Intern
Again, I found myself working with emerging designers but this time at an e-commerce as a brand manager’s assistant. The role was nothing like I anticipated it to be and it was one of those catch all roles where you are required to do a bit of everything. The role did allow me a lot of flexibility and was one of the better-paid roles but ultimately it wasn’t for me.
Wholesale & Showroom Intern
This was by far the most difficult yet rewarding role I had ever taken on. Fashion Wholesale is very fast paced and will require a lot of commitment. I learned that working in Luxury Fashion Wholesale was the best fit for me and I got to discover a whole other sector of the fashion industry that I didn’t know even existed.
There are a few things that I have learned along the way that I wanted to share, there are quite a few articles on this topic all over the internet but I will share a few things that I have found to be important throughout my time as an intern.
Before the Interview
Do not copy and paste your CV or cover letter to every single company. The fashion industry is extremely competitive so make sure you tailor your cover letter to the company you’re applying to. Also, make sure you keep it creative yet professional, it’s a creative industry after all so don’t be boring.
Be yourself & Dress Appropriately
It’s a fashion internship so you don’t have to turn up in a suit (unless it’s required). Show off your style and personality with your outfit but at the same time, don’t go too crazy with it. Keep it simple and if you can, ensure your outfit reflects the aesthetic of the brand/ company you’re applying for.
Your Journey as an Intern
Be Respectful and have a good attitude
Be respectful and pleasant to everyone in the building regardless of their position. A professional demeanor and a pleasant attitude goes a long way. Interns are usually asked to take on a lot and sometimes it can be incredibly frustrating at times. If you’re able to handle stress and get through tough situations whilst being positive, it doesn’t go unnoticed.
DO go above and beyond!
This is key! Be resourceful and proactive in each assignment you take on. Don’t just wait for an assignment, offer to do more than expected. Learn what the managers like and be aware of what’s going on around you in the office.
Know your Worth
I feel like I need to add this in because as an intern, you will be taken advantage of and you will be asked to do things that are way out of your scope or responsibility. I have heard of stories where people have had to babysit or go grocery shopping or some other menial unrelated task all in the name of interning. Know your worth and if you don’t believe you are learning or getting the most from your internship, then it is time to leave. It is an internship for a reason and both parties have to be happy.
Finally, don’t forget to put yourself out there. If you see the company advertising a paid role, let them know you’re interested in the role and pitch yourself to them. you never know and that could lead to a more permanent role.