Friday, 8 January 2016

WHAT I HAVE LEARNT FROM BEING A FASHION INTERN


Lugging around returns, being stifled away in windowless fashion cupboards, countless coffee runs, working after hours, working weekends, working yourself into an early grave; the list is endless. If the rumours of intern life are true, the media are painting a bleak future for us wannabe fashionistas. Perhaps the biggest figure to blame is the infamous Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada whos cold hearted representation on a fashion editor is enough to make anyone quiver into their Yves Saint Laurent snake skin boots (..or for us interns, Primark rip offs). Despite this, talk to just anyone who has 'made it' into the position you admire, be it buying, marketing or designing you can pretty much guarantee they started as an intern somewhere along the line. Fortunately, I have had quite a different experience with my internships. I have learnt a lot from the companies I have worked for without having to do the rumoured exploitative intern jobs such as getting the bosses lunch at approx. such-and-such hour only to get it wrong which results in tears on both receiving ends (yes, this is a true intern horror story I have had the pleasure of hearing). I've been one of the lucky ones in this sense, but that doesn't mean I haven't been made to work hard and long hours for little return. At the end of the day, internships should be a learning opportunity, either to gain experience in an area of interest to build your career or to test the water of what you do or don't want to do in the future. With that in mind, here's what I've learnt so far from my experience of being an unpaid fashion intern, from surviving in the city to living on a mattress on my friends kitchen floor...

1. Use people

Not in the exploitative sense! Learn from everybody and anybody in the office. I'm talking all departments. Even if you think you're not interested in PR, strike up conversations with people in this area and ask what they do and how they got there. It may open up your mind to more possibilities.

2. Make friends with your boss

Don't be scared of him/ her. Show them that you too have a Beyonce deep down that knows what she wants and how she's gunna get there! Be respectful, know your P's and T's and you might just be asked out for that Prosecco fueled night where your boss confesses to you about their drunk alter ego named 'Marge'..

3. Make friends with the other interns

These are some of the best friends you will ever meet! Not only will they share the same interests as you, you can also learn a lot from them. Help each other out, have each others back and exchange experiences. These guys will be sure to tell you what future internships are worth sticking out and which ones are most definitely not.

4. Be willing

Show you're willing, get shit done and then ask if there is anything else you can help out with before you leave. It's your attitude that will decide whether you make a lasting impression.

5. Mistakes are okay

Sometimes it's easy to forget that you're just an intern, you shouldn't be expected to be perfect at your job and if you are, you're over qualified and should be hired on the spot! Sooo, you accidentally cc'd your boss instead of your friend into an email linking Justin Bieber tickets when you should be tending to your Excel doc..You did it, learn from it, don't repeat it.

8. Avoid living with students

You're a young professional now. Gone are the days of late night 'Thirsty Thursdays' when you have a 7 am early start. So for a good night kip, avoid living with the late night risers (take it from someone with experience in this area..).

6. Avoid heels

You're an intern. You won't be sitting at your desk all day, you have returns to see to!

9. Have time for yourself

What's great about internships is that your free time is actually your free time. It's not like when you were back at University and you have the over hanging feeling of guilt when you're out with friends but should be doing your essay. So on the weekends, chillax man. Go do you.

7. Have wine chilling in the fridge upon return

But when the day gets tough, remembering that you have this to come home to will be you're little slice of heaven that will see you through the day. You'll thank me later.

10. Enjoy it!

Be an optimist, even if you feel the internship isn't for you. Get the most out of the experience and remind yourself it's only for so many months, you can do it. And in times of doubt, remember Drake did it.