Why hello there, this post has been SO highly requested for around about 3 years now. I've covered this topic before, in a pretty hefty post, around 4 years or so ago, but I thought it was about time I did an updated post, with a similar story, but I guess a slightly different angle now I'm 25 and well into my career in the fashion industry. Interning is something I am EXTREMELY passionate about, it's something I would urge anyone who wants to break into the fashion industry or any creative industry for that matter, to do as it's a fantastic way to grow as a person, to gage exactly what you want to do, to meet new people, develop new skills and of course add another section to your CV.
Soooo interning, the scary old world of interning; Specifically interning in fashion.
We've all see The Devil Wears Prada, a film that I think any fashionista about to dip their toe into the industry would worry the fashion world is like.
Well, in parts it is, and in other parts I'm sure it's even worse. However, I'm not here to scare you or to put you off, I want you all to dive head first into the world of fashion and to embrace each and every aspect of interning, whether that be nailing how to make the perfect cuppa, sharpening your sewing skills or mastering the art of reading a map whilst delivering LFW invitations across London, your life as an intern is about to change you forever.
Change you in a very good way might I add. You'll leave your 1 month, 3 month or even year long placement feeling ready to take on the industry. You'll have learnt a lot about yourself, about your skill set and what you want to achieve in life and in my experience, my year long stint as an intern set me up for everything I have achieved today.
So, without further ado, here's a look into my own experience as an intern and some things I learnt along the way. Grab a coffee and maybe a biscuit or two, or bookmark this post for later, it's a hefty one.
Let's start from the beginning.
I studied textiles at GCSE and A Level, and introduced a course in photography at A Level too.
I then went onto study Fashion Communication and Promotion at The University of Huddersfield, a course that endeavoured to explore all that goes in to the promotion of fashion, whether that be PR, marketing, journalism, styling, photography, trend forecasting, the works; this course was a juicy one and I was ecstatic to have received a place and get stuck in.
I enjoyed almost every aspect of the course and did pretty well in all modules whilst maintaining the typical "party girl" persona of a university student, I really loved uni!
In our third year there was an optional "sandwich route" which meant if you wanted to, you could take a year out from studying and head out into the big, bad world of fashion. This was what initially attracted me to the course at Huddersfield University; there were other courses of this ilk at the time at UCLA, LCF and Nottingham, however non that offered the sandwich degree.
I knew, even before starting uni, that I wanted to intern.
I knew that it would be the making of me and that it would make bagging the dream job at the end of it, that little bit easier. So I set to work applying for internship after internship, browsing websites such as fashionworkie.com and speculatively sliding into emails praying that I'd be noticed.
My first internship was at House of Holland, something I'm extremely proud of as I'm sure you already know by now. House of Holland has always been a brand that I've adored, I love their use of colour and prints, I love Henry and I love the "cool girls" in which they dress, it was a brand I was DESPERATE to intern at so I went at applying in a different way when my initial email went ignored.
I did some research and found that Henry Holland's favourite sweet (at the time) were Jelly Beans. Lord knows how I found that kind of information, perhaps in some form of interview, but the important thing was that I did my research and I found that small piece of information that I could use to my advantage.
I printed out my CV and popped it in the post with a packet of Jelly Beans in tow. A week later I had an email thanking me for my CV and of course the Jelly Beans and inviting me down to London for a trial day. I was over the moon that my stalking tactics had worked and allowed me to stand out in a sea of similar CV's.
My mum and dad kindly paid for my train and I headed down for my trial day, which I thoroughly enjoyed and on completition was asked to come back in the summer for a month long internship.
This, might I add, was two years before I was to embark on my full year in industry, it was the summer after finishing first year, something I think was pivotal in, making that whole placement year that little bit easier to bag a years worth of internships.
After the month long summer placement in which I assisted with the AW12 LFW show, they confirmed that they'd love to have me back for 3 months when my placement year eventually begun... HURRAH!
During the 3 month placement I worked as the Sales & Buying assistant which was heavily numbers based, not my strong suit I must say. There was a lot of Excel Spreadsheets and inputting data and I really didn't enjoy it. I wanted to be creative, I wanted to style, to photograph, to promote fashion in any way I could, I didn't want to sit at a desk and boggle my brain with numbers. So I spoke up and was able to do 2 days a week doing the things I love with the design team. It was a great placement and a real eye opener into the things I did and didn't want to do in the industry. However, I decided, after 2 months that I was ready to move onto other things. I'd made some amazing contacts which lead me onto my next internship at ASOS.
Some key learnings from my first internship is that interning is tough. You work long hours and for zero pay!
I was living in London, renting a friends spare room and I was extremely lonely. I loved getting up to go into the House of Holland studio every day and being surrounded by incredibly inspiring and creative people, despite not enjoying the role I was appointed. However, it was a real eye opener into what it was I actually wanted to do, which I think is something we can all take away from jobs we don't enjoy. It allows us to narrow down the search to our perfect career choice, whilst teaching us some key life lessons along the way.
I also learnt that it is SO important to stand out when it comes to applying for jobs and internships, so if there is something a little extra you can throw into the mix then go for it, my Jelly Beans worked a treat. It might not work for all career paths but those applying for creative roles, I'd 100% recommended giving it a whirl.
Another key lesson that we should all remember is to speak up when things aren't working out, there's no point in dragging things out until the bitter end. You're interning for free, if it's not working then move on. You need to take as much as you can from each internship as it's a year of learning and developing after all. If you're not learning, enjoying or developing in any way then please, speak up and move onto the next... Trust me, there will be a next one.
Working at ASOS was always somewhere I dreamt about working. I loved everything that ASOS offered and really thought of myself as an ASOS girl through and through. I was particularly fond of the ASOS Magazine back then, a carefully and beautifully curated magazine featuring the best that ASOS had to offer, what was new in and what was coming up, interviews with relevant musicians, designers, actors and it was just an utter delight receiving it through my door every other month.
Much to my surprise this internship was actually on the Fashion Desk for the ASOS Magazine, a serious pinch me moment for sure. I was thrilled to have been given the opportunity to be a part of the magazine I'd loved for so many years. I worked with the stylists, prepping for and assisting on shoots, scouting out the perfect pieces for certain occasions or calendar moments and I was completely and utterly submerged with my kinda fashion. It was such a different experience working at a HUGE headquarters such as ASOS HQ in comparison to a small studio like House of Holland, but it all helped with allowing me to learn and to work out exactly the kind of job I wanted once I'd finished university.
I always say that my time at ASOS was my absolute favourite of all my internships as it was just so utterly right for me. It was the perfect brand, made up of like minded people and it just felt right. It was the only internship that I was sad to leave at the end of. However, I left full of new skills, an intensified love of all things styling and with a whole lotta new friends, who kindly allowed me to move onto my next internship at Alexander McQueen.
So now onto Alexander McQueen an internship that I never, ever dreamt of getting and to be perfectly honest an internship I desperately did not want! The rumour mill was awash with horror stories about the treatment of Alexander McQueen interns and I didn't think I was strong enough to deal with it.
However, when I aced the interview and was invited to embark on a one month internship I thought it was worth a shot.
I was appointed as the Accessories PR Intern, a role I was pretty excited about indeed. I was able to book in and out stunning Alexander McQueen handbags, jewellery, scarves and shoes and send them around the world to the most prestigious of fashion press and celebrities, it was SO exciting. The team were truly incredible and I absolutely ADORED each and every day that I spent at the world renowned British fashion house.
However, that wasn't without it's hardships, we were up against the clock every day to ensure that these beautiful, EXTREMELY expensive pieces were securely packaged and shipped to their respective companies and countries whilst also ensuring that the correct pieces had come back to us after having been worn or featured. It was hard work with long days and I remember getting home every night at 9pm completely exhausted and TOTALLY drained.
Nonetheless, my time at Alexander McQueen was truly wonderful, I worked alongside such a gorgeous team of seriously inspiring people and I learnt a hell of a lot in such a short space of time. The team even through me a farewell party once my month was up and treated me to a beautiful Alexander McQueen ring and scarf, both of which I still have and will treasure for the rest of my life!
By this point I was completely and utterly skint. I had not a single penny to my name and I was missing home like mad. I'd been in London for 4 months and had zero social life due to long working ours and three unpaid internships. It was time to move back home and to start at JD Sports; not the most glamorous of brands, and certainly not the kind of place I would daydream about working at, however it was an 8 month placement as the Creative Production Assistant across a number of brands within the JD PLC group and it was paid... FINALLY!
I was back home in Manchester, interning at a HUGE high street giant and on a salary of £12,000 a year. Granted not the biggest salary in the world but this was a PAID internship which at the time was pretty unheard of indeed and I was completely thrilled to FINALLY have some reliable income.
My role at JD Sports was my favourite role of all, as the Creative Production Assistant I was able to work on countless photo shoots across some very different brands within the JD umbrella. My days were spent casting models, creating mood boards, styling outfits for shoots, scouting locations and of course being on set with a truly incredible team. I was in my absolute element work wise, it just wasn't setting my world on fire product wise if you catch my drift.
However, that being said as with all my placements, I learnt SO much during the 8 months I spent at JD Sports and worked amongst the most fabulous of people. I had a really incredible manager who I owe a lot to as she taught me SO much, she pushed me and inspired me to chase my dreams, I'll always be grateful to her.
It's important to remember that it doesn't matter who the brand is that you're working for, it's the role that counts, you still learn so many key skills despite where it is you're working and potential employers want to know WHAT you can do for them rather than WHO you did it for. Mix up your placements to really develop your skill set to the max and show your not afraid of getting stuck in!
And the rest, as they say is history. I went back to university filled to the brim with knowledge and fashion industry experience which really helped with my final pieces of degree work and I went back to university with a brand new blog.
My placement year allowed me to start this very blog right here. It began as a diary for my interning days, "The day in the life of a fashion intern" if you like, where I would explain albeit briefly what I'd been up to that day and what I'd learnt, along with some terribly grainy i-Phone 4 photographs to support. So yeah, you could say I owe my placement year a lot!
And I do, it taught me SO much, it allowed me to grow and learn more about the industry I was so desperate to be a part of, about myself and my skills, it allowed me to start my blog, which I am lucky enough to now call my job and it allowed me to leave university with an incredible job offer.
If you're in two minds about whether interning in fashion is for you then PLEASE give it a whirl, I cannot rave about the benefits enough. Unpaid internships I'm not so fond of, but thats for a different post entirely (if you'd like to see this?) however, at the time, they were all I could get and despite the lack of funds, I am SO thankful that I went for them regardless.
And with that, I bid thee farewell, I truly hope you enjoyed this blogpost as much as I enjoyed writing it and I truly, truly hope it was useful to some of you. If you have any questions at all, please leave them in the comments, on Instagram, Twitter or email me and I'll be sure to answer them in as much detail as possible or perhaps in a Q&A style blog post if there are enough of em!?