Earlier this year I had written a post on my new position as a public relations intern for Dolce & Gabbana's US headquarters. As the semester is nearing it's end so did my internship and yesterday I had to bid adieu to what was one of my favorite work experiences thus far in my life. This wasn't my first internship, in fact I've had my fare share of them. After I had written about it I received numerous emails asking me how I got the position, if I feel that unpaid internships are fair, and the most frequently asked question: are they really worth it? Well, I'm going to answer all those questions in this post. So let's get to it!
Question: Where do you find internships in the fashion industry?
I know that most universities have Co-op and Career Services departments. My school has one and as I've been told, a very good one at that. You should find out if your school has one and make an appointment with an advisor there. You can talk to your advisor about what you're looking for and they will show you the tools and discuss the steps you need to take in order to get the internship that you want. I didn't use my school's Co-op and Career Services. There are many other ways in which you can find an internship on your own.
For fashion internships the best websites to check out are: Free Fashion Internships, this website posts numerous internship opportunities daily in all of the different fields within the fashion industry. I found my Dolce & Gabbana public relations internship on that website. If you're looking for an internship specifically in the magazine industry the best website for that is Ed 2010. This website posts magazine internships regularly. Wether you're looking to work in the photo department, features department or fashion department there are many internships available in every magazine department on there. Other good websites include MediaBistro, Fashionista, and yes, even Craigslist. There are some great internship opportunities on there, you just need to look.
Question: There is a lot of competition for internships at established companies like Dolce & Gabbana. How do you get an internship at a bigger company?
A lot of people have asked me this question. I've had many internships before interning at Dolce & Gabbana and I think my experience is what helped me get a position at a bigger, more established company. These type of internships are hard to get because everyone wants them and they are so limited. There were in total five interns this semester for the entire US public relations team at Dolce & Gabbana which includes entertainment and editorial public relations that encompasses not only The United States, but also Canada, Mexico, South America and sometimes when the European PR sector gets too busy, Europe and Asia.
If you've never had an internship and are trying to break into the industry my advice would be to start small. Smaller companies are more likely to hire interns with less experience and in return you get more experience than you would at a larger company. One of my first internships was at a company called All Aces Promotional Staffing, a small company that staffed many industry events. I got to do a lot there- I helped with social media, staffing, brainstorming ideas for event promotion and developing marketing ideas. I also got to work on a more personal level with the employees because the staff was so small. Basically: You have to start small to get big.
Question: Are unpaid internships fair? Do you think they are worth it?
This is a much debated question. Ideally I would like to be paid for my work and I think all interns would, even if it was just minimum wage. However, I think if you're really learning and getting experience (and school credit!) it is worth it.
Many companies take advantage of the term "internship". Brand Building Communications, one of my first fashion public relations internships, was one company that really took advantage of it. Sometimes I was asked to do really menial tasks. For example, before fashion week me and another intern hand delivered invitations throughout the city in New York winter weather. We were weren't given cab money, we weren't even given a metrocard. So this involved a lot of walking around in uncomfortably brisk weather. Since they weren't paying for the transportation involved in this I technically paid to be their bitch and it was awful.
It was silly now that I think about it, but I did all of it because I wanted to go the Cynthia Steffe fashion show, which in the end my boss invited me too. Why? because I texted her and asked what she needed me to do to assist her before the show. When she hadn't responded and the day was almost at it's end I texted her again. With that I received a phone call in which she yelled and cursed at me and eventually uninvited me from the show and asked me to show up at the office after it. I couldn't believe she talked to me in such a disrespectful and inappropriate way, especially because I was working for free. I didn't end up going to the office after the show, or ever again....and that was the end of my first internship. Don't ever intern for anyone (especially if they are mistreating you) unless you feel you are getting something out of it, wether it's experience, school credit or payment.
Question: Can interning get you a job?
Yes. I have already been on interviews for jobs in the industry and having internships has always impressed them and allowed me to have experience to talk of. Unfortunately my school schedule interfered with being able to work these jobs, but I'm confident that come graduation I will have no problem getting one. I have many friends who have gotten jobs out of their internships and because of them. A friend of mine who interned at Diesel was offered a PR job straight out of college with a colleague who started her own PR firm. Things like this happen frequently and the experience will be enough to get you a job.
Question: What is your next step?
Interning at Dolce & Gabbana was great and I will really miss it, but all good things must come to an end. This summer I will be a fashion market intern at Harper's Bazaar. Working for a magazine has been my dream since I was very young and this will be my first experience at one. I'm really excited for it.
I hope this was helpful and I wish you all the best of luck on your internships and your entry into the fashion industry. Internships are not always fun, but remember you have to start at the bottom to get to the top. All of my supervisors at Dolce & Gabbana had internships and some of them expressed their importance. So get out there and get into it. If you have any further questions feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.