Lessons learned from internships

By Katie Crandall

Before landing your first internship in the fashion industry it’s hard to not feel intimated and overwhelmed. Will every boss be like Meryl Streep in “The Devil Wears Prada”? Will I be getting coffee for the rest of my life? Where do I even start? And, why is no one emailing be back the second I send out my resume?! I mean HELLO I’m amazing, and willing to work for FREE! These are all things that went through my mind while applying for internships in college. I wish that I had someone mentor me throughout the process of applying for internships, because let’s be honest, most of our assumptions are from Lauren Conrad interning at Teen Vogue, or a variety of other cheesy T.V. shows and movies. Now that I have come out on the other side, have graduated college, had dream internships, and not so dream like internships; these are my 5 takeaways. This is my advice for not just applying for internships, but what to do once you’ve finally received your dream position.

Your first won’t be your last.
Going for the gold and applying for an internship at your dream company is definitely something you should do each round of internship applications. But, sometimes it takes getting one internship at a small start up to land the internship you’ve been dreaming of. Interning is very similar to applying for part time jobs. It takes experience to get experience. I know it’s frustrating because, how are you supposed to get experience if no one will give you a chance? Well I can promise you this, someone will take a chance on you. Once you’ve had one internship applying for others becomes so much easier, and more companies will be interested in you. My first internship was doing Promotional Marketing and PR for a movie prodyction company. I was a little bummed because, it wasn’t fashion, but that internship gave me experience that opened a lot of doors for me when interning at my dream company because I had PR experience. So build up that resume, and never turn down an opportunity because, you never know who you’ll meet, or what will open your next door. Which leads me to my next point.

Don’t wait till you’re a senior to start looking for internships.
I’ve had this discussion with my college advisor a million times, while you’re in college DO NOT WASTE TIME. We’re in a competitive industry, and getting a degree isn’t all you need to land a job anymore. The more internships you have on your resume the better. I saw plenty of classmates wait till the summer before their senior year or even after their senior year struggle with applying for jobs and internships, because they had no industry experience. Start now and take advantage of the time you have in college. Chances of scoring a job after graduation will be much higher if you have a few internships under your belt.

It’s not just getting coffee. But be prepared to get coffee.
I had no idea what to expect before starting my internships. Professors, media, friends, and family always make it sound like you’ll just be an errand runner while interning. But, in all my internships I’ve never experienced that. Yes, you will run errands, getting people coffee, getting lunch for the office, but that’s not all that you will be doing. Most companies if they’re smart want to take advantage of young talent and will give you real tasks. Having an internship is very similar to having an actual job. However, whenever someone in the company needs an errand done definitely be the first to volunteer. Doing the menial tasks that no one wants to do will show that your willing to work hard, and aren’t “too good” for something. Continually volunteering to do the small tasks really does make an impression to your boss.

Staying late won’t go unnoticed.
I had an internship where there were probably 10 of us interns all together. Interns always wanted to leave the office as soon as their time was up. This really surprised me because; I went to an art school filled with competitive students always wanting to out do each other. Every day I offered to stay after my shift and help with what needed to get done. This seemed totally normal to me, because as an intern were supposed to do whatever is needed. Being willing to stay late and ask for more work not only made a huge impression on my boss, but also the CEO. I attribute most of my success and accomplishments at this internship to just showing up, and willing to stay after my shift. This is an easy thing everyone can do, and it will definitely secure you an amazing recommendation letter, if not a job with the company.

Make the first move.
Lastly, don’t wait for opportunity to come to you. Start emailing and applying for internships now. If you don’t see an open position on the company’s site then email their general email asking for more information. I’m not kidding. Emailing a general email address is how I landed my dream internship. And, once you get that internship always ask for more tasks once you’ve finished one. This may seem like common sense, but I promise you it’s not. Be ambitious and work hard, I can’t tell you enough how much those two small things will make a huge impact on your career.

Applying for internships is overwhelming and can be very discouraging. But, it gets easier each time you do it. Don’t let getting turned down stop you. I haven’t received plenty of internships, no one will always hear yes. Once you’ve landed an internship don’t stop working hard, and never be that millennial that is “too good” for something.

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