So you want to work in fashion. Maybe you’re fresh out of university, maybe you have no experience but love the industry, or maybe it’s time for a career change. Whatever the reason is, internships are a great way to get your foot in the door of an extremely competitive industry.
Having internships under my belt was a crucial step to getting to where I am in my career now. The last internship I did led directly to my role now, and I got so many benefits from the experience. This has even led me to hiring the new interns – oh how the tables have turned.
Here are five tips for landing a fashion internship (and after):
Make a good first impression with your cover letter
I’ve seen all manner of CVs – the good, the bad, the ugly. I’ve received CVs with copywriting listed as a skill and spelling mistakes throughout. I’ve seen CVs that look as though they’ve been professionally produced by a graphic designer and ones which look like they were written on a computer programme from 1992. Whilst it’s always lovely to get a CV that has clearly been made with a lot of effort and care, it’s the cover letter that really gets my attention.
I know job hunting is a long, tiring and often tedious procedure – but if it’s to get a foot in the door of the industry you’re passionate about, you need to write a cover letter so good that you’d hire yourself. Two short paragraphs just isn’t good enough when you’re competing with hundreds of others for one or two positions. As an internship is an entry level position, it is your drive and willingness to learn that trumps the experience on your CV.
Some of the best cover letters that I have seen have included information or ideas that haven’t been requested as part of the application procedure. In the past this has included a list of brands that someone is loving and why, what trends they’re predicting will be big in the near future and things they’ve loved from our social feeds. It’s also great to see mood boards, ad mockups and examples of written work like blog posts – just make sure these are specific to the company you are applying to. No one hiring wants to see something created with a competitor in mind.
A cover letter can be the deciding factor as to whether or not you bag an interview – or the internship itself. Again, don’t be put off by your own lack of experience in the fashion industry; if your cover letter is convincing and well researched then you’re in a far better position than someone with experience but a lack of drive.
Have a positive attitude
Once you’ve got the internship it is vital – and I can’t stress this enough – to be up for doing anything and everything. Just as important is to have an attitude so positive that you basically shine like the sun. Steam clothes for hours? No problem! Hand out papers from the printer? Absolutely!This might seem like common sense, but people regularly sabotage their own chance at progression by developing an ‘why should I?’ attitude. Eye rolling, sighing or complaining about being busy – all things we’re guilty of at times, but worth keeping under wraps as an intern. When it comes to hiring, who do you think they’ll pick – the person who didn’t blink twice when asked to collect something from across town, or the person who complained that it’s cold outside.To be clear, no one expects an intern to be game show host level happy all day everyday – but just getting on with a task without a fuss is something that everyone appreciates. At the end of the day, internships don’t last forever and doing things that you might not be ecstatic about is just a stepping stone to where you want to be.
Make the most out of the skills you already have
Sought after skills will always boost your chance of landing an interview, particularly if it’s something the company is currently lacking (although this is hard to know). Within fashion, skills such as photography, blog writing and proficiency in any Adobe Creative Cloud software is always welcomed. It’s also helpful to know if you speak another language or have a useful hobby (coding and illustration are great).A word of caution – do not put down any skill on your CV that you’re not willing to later demonstrate. It’s tempting to over sell yourself, but this can lead to embarrassment further down the line. If you occasionally take selfies it’s probably best not to put photography down as a special skill. It’s also better to put down two skills that you’re amazing at than list ten you’re not that great at. When I see a list of every skill, hobby and interest under the sun, I simply assume that at least half are simply padding out the CV.If you do put down a skill (for example, Adobe Photoshop) you need to specify the level of proficiency you’re currently at (basic, intermediate, advanced etc). This way you’re not going to have a situation where you’re asked to do something that is far beyond your capabilities. You can’t blame the expectations of your boss if you said that you can do it.
Lastly, there is only so much room on your CV to get a sense of yourself across, so don’t include too much of anything that isn’t relevant to the internship you’re applying to. It’s great that you were on your county swimming team, but keep it to one sentence max. Things like this are interesting, but not necessarily relevant to the role and as such need to play a minor role. A paragraph on your Duke of Edinburgh award will only get you so far.
Offer help before being asked for it
My favourite people in this world are those who find tasks to be done regardless of whether or not I’ve asked them to do something. If you know that today you’ll have to ship a mountain of parcels, go ahead and get started. Don’t wait for your boss or manager to ask. Learn what tasks are priorities and do them accordingly. No one wants to babysit the intern past the first couple of weeks – people will be happy to help you learn, but they can’t hold your hand forever.Better yet, if you find yourself without an obvious tasks to do, just say the magic words: “can I help you with anything?”. There is always something to be done and just asking is always appreciated. Offer to collect things, make drinks when you make one for yourself, take notes in meetings – make yourself indispensable.Never ever wait to be asked to do something whilst sitting at your desk playing on your phone or staring into space; this might seem obvious but it does happen.
Go The Extra Mile
Internships are often synonymous with long hours and less than desirable tasks, however, like most things in life, what you put in is what you’ll get out. A couple of months of hard work pays off in the long run. On the hardest of days you have to remember that internships are only temporary.What will make you stand out is your willingness to do whatever needs to be done, whenever it needs to be done, with no excuses. If you need to be at a meeting at 8am, be ready for it to start at 7.30am. If a photography set was delivered near leaving time but has to be assembled urgently, then be the first to say you’ll stay until it’s done.Always be early, always be prepared and always be willing.