Your no-bullshit internship survival guide
So you’ve taken matters into your own hands and you’ve managed to score yourself an internship. Congratulations! You could have gone for any old assistant role at any old corporate company, and probably could have got it, or at least an interview, but we're talking about the fashion industry here, and you need to give it your blood, sweat and (on the inside) tears before you earn the luxury of an actual job.
The next 3-6 months will see you give your life, health and money to interning somewhere (so while you're at it, make it a good company, won't ya?)
You’ve got so much to look forward to.
It will harden you in ways you never thought possible, you'll meet some crazy characters (some will become great friends, others... not so much), and you'll learn a lot about yourself, life and the industry. In that yes, like you thought from watching The Devil Wears Prada like a billion times, it can be a ruthless bitch, but it can also be fun, and sometimes even rewarding!
Here's your no-bull guide to get yourself ready:
- Firstly, prepare yourself. Correct, you will not be saving lives here or trying to cure cancer, but you are going into one of the most competitive industries in the world. Before you start, make sure you have:
1. A good wardrobe. You don't have to spend hundreds here, just make sure you have a solid amount of neutral and black pieces to see you through, and prepare outfits in advance to save time in the morning. Oh, and remember to buy flats and trainers, you won't want to be running around the city in heels.
2. Your travel situation sorted. Plan ahead. This means the whole journey, making sure you’ve got CityMapper on your phone, and also anticipating the horrendous potential commute you might be about to face everyday. Make sure you’re mentally prepared to face squashed crowds on the tube, no seats on the trains, and potential armpits in your face in the height of summer.
3. Your finances in tack. You are not going to be paid (most likely) so make sure that you can realistically afford this. Whether that's from continuing to temp on the weekends (yes, it happens), holding down a bar job, or robbing your parents blind, you will need money in some way or another. Just don't resort to crime, you're not that desperate.
4. Good health, and we're not just talking the hot bod from all that exercise. Be prepared to work hard, and that your immunity and energy levels are at their highest peak. You’ll need vitamins, vegetables, sleep and juices. Fashion week looms, and it's not to be taken lightly, or without caffeine.
And when you’re actually doing it...
- Make lists: Whenever anyone asks you to do anything, say yes straight away, and write it down. Find out how urgent it is and prioritise.
- Talk to the other interns and make friends: You work better when there's a positive energy around you, and you can be part of a team. Yes, the fashion industry is competitive, but you don't have to be a complete bitch to succeed, contrary to some beliefs. Think Lauren and Whitney*, be nice, and people will like you.
*If you don't know what this means then you don't deserve this internship.
- Connect with your colleagues and managers on LinkedIn (after like, a month or so, when they actually know who you are).
- Don't assume that you'll walk into a job at the company. A lot of interns come and go, and there are never enough positions to go around. It's fine, accept that you may not stay and just work hard. Something else will come along.
- Make the most of all the opportunities that come your way. Help at fashion weeks and go to the events, these are all amazing experiences to enhance your skill set, network and CV.
- In the words of Kelly Cutrone, "If you have to cry, go outside". Or just go to the loo.
- Always carry deodorant, make up, water and chewing gum.
And finally, needless to say really but in case you are completely clueless, don't be a diva. Yes, you have just obtained an amazing degree, but you are no one at the moment, to everyone who matters. Deal with it, stay humble, and be ready for some super hard-grafting.
Stay strong girl, and good luck!
P.S. Check all the latest internships on our Jobs Bible.