Ahhh…the life of an intern.
We all have to do it at some point and pay our dues before we can expect any serious (paying) role in the industry. Some internships are better than others but at the end of the day they guide us to where we need to be. Having 1-2 internships can significantly increase your chances of obtaining a job after graduation because of the experience you gain and the connections you make. This post is everywhere from tips on how to obtain an internship, when to decide if you’re happy doing what you’re doing, the fine line between being payed in experience and just being used for service and professional tips once beginning your first internship.
Q: How do I figure out what type of internship I want to have?
A: There are SO many different internships out there. I remember searching for internships and learning about so many positions I didn’t even know existed. At first I was just searching “Fashion internships in Boston” but that honestly didn’t do much for me. First you need to think about your major…I’m fashion communications and promotions and there’s not job titles that indicate that. So I started looking for social media, editorial, blogging, styling, photography, and communication positions and that’s where I found the positions I was interested in applying to. You also need to do research prior to applying to get you close to an internship you will gain experience towards a future job you aspire to have. Look for job postings on your dream jobs and look at the requirements needed to be considered for the position, what kind of experience do you need? Do you want to work for a magazine? Then intern at a magazine firm. Do you want to own your own business? Then work closely with the owner of a small business that can show you the ins and outs. Figure out what you want your future job to be and look for internships that will bring you closer to obtaining those jobs!
Q: How do I find an internship?
A: Start ahead of the game. Most students wait for their internship course to do internships but if you can start as a freshman and gain four years of experience, do it….you are doing your future self a HUGE favor and I wish someone told me to do the same. First you need to figure out when you want to do your internship, Fall Semester, Spring Semester, Summer break? Where do you go to school? Where do you live when your home? Where can you find the BEST opportunities? My biggest regret is not living in NYC for a summer and doing an internship program, living in Boston there aren’t so many opportunities for the fashion industry so you really need to keep location in mind and plan ahead. Use websites like Internships click here, Indeed click here, and Fashionista click here. Also checkout your school’s job board, career service office, connection’s through your professors, and any other connections you may have. (you never know who people know)
Q: Payed or Unpaid?
A: More often than not, internships in the fashion industry are unpaid. It is something you have to prepare for, because there is no way around it, and just remember that it’s only temporary. Sometimes you will get lucky and score internships that are paid, both of mine were paid which I am so thankful for but it’s not always the case. Now we all know that we are expected to pay our “dues” to the industry by working unpaid internships to literally work from the ground up, but some people will take advantage of this and you need to know the difference. Know your worth but also know that your worth can be paid in experience you can’t gain in any classroom. If you score an internship at a big company, a brand you’ve been eyeing, or a well known firm, take it! It may not be paid but just look at it as an investment in your future, you will learn the field as a professional. Some startup companies and small brands often have unpaid internships as well, but not all of them are so interested in training you for the better of your future and are only interested in using you for your youthful knowledge and upbeat energy they don’t obtain. Do not let anyone over work you, treat you poorly, or make you feel like your just the intern and you have to run their personal errands…because you don’t! P.S. If you know your internship is going to be unpaid, try to do it in the summer so you can work a paid job on your off days!
Q: How do I prepare for an interview and what should I expect?
A: Dress Accordingly, Show Up Early, Be Prepared. You should always dress professional for an interview no matter what the job may be. Minimal makeup, maintained hair, neutral nails, and conservative clothing is key. Show up for your interview 15-25 minutes early for a great first impression as well as time to get situated and prepared. Make sure you map out your commute the night before to plan accordingly for time. Always bring extra copies of your resume, cover letters, availability, and business cards with you as well as a tangible portfolio of your best work. (Especially you creative ones) Be prepared to answer questions about your knowledge on the work you would be doing at the internship, previous experience, and of course…everything about yourself. Just remember they were in your shoes at one point and nerves happen to anyone!
Q: What do I do when I get rejected?
A: Rejection will happen, there’s no way around it. (Especially in the fashion industry) I personally have been rejected a few times and as much as it can make you feel down, you just can’t let it. Just to have an opportunity to go in and interview with companies in your field is a great way to make connections, spread your resume around, and learn about the possible jobs out there. If you aren’t chosen it doesn’t mean you’re not good, it just means that they found a better fit and the timing may not be right for you, and that’s okay! If this happens to you send an email or letter to the person you were interviewed by thanking them for the opportunity and leaving a positive last impression.
Q: What do I do when I get accepted?
A: Congrats! You’re on your way into the industry and it is just the beginning. This is your official foot in the door, the first opportunity given to you that you will speak of 20 years from now from your NYC office during your fashion week interview. Once you’ve been offered the position and decide to take it, write a thank you back ASAP. (You can find great sample “thank you” emails online.) Did you apply to other internships/ get offered other positions? Well then it’s time to start the “I’ve decided to go with another opportunity” emails as well. It’s definitely not easy but you have to be smart in your wording and approach to make sure you don’t lose any opportunities with other companies.
Q: What if I don’t like what I’m doing?
A: It’s very common most interns will find themselves somewhere they may not be enjoying. I was experiencing this at my last internship and knew I didn’t want to do it as a career by the end of week 4. Sometimes you will be working with amazing people at an amazing place but they job may not be for you, and vise versa, but that’s okay! This is what internships are for, they pave the path to a career you will love. To figure out if you’re happy where you are just close your eyes and picture doing it everyday for the rest of your life? Your first feeling will probably be the right one, but remember to give it a chance before you decide if you love or hate anything. And never burn bridges. Even if you decide you’re not in the right place, stick it out until the end and do your job to your best potential. This will be on your resume and you will want them as references for your next internship or job, so always make sure you leave on a good note.
I hope these tips help you find an amazing internship you love, and if you don’t love it, just remember internships are meant to help you figure out what you want and don’t want as a career!
XO ~ Michaela