Fashion Internships: Why They’re Vital To Your Career & How To Find One Easily

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Ask any person how they got their start in the fashion industry and the most common answer you’ll hear is through an INTERNSHIP. In many industries, especially in fashion, internships are invaluable to your career. They are the stepping stone from student to workplace professional. Often, they are what helps you find your dream job, or at least one that you highly enjoy doing. However, in order to start your journey into the world of internships, there are some things you will need to understand first.

THE FACTS

Most Internships are Unpaid

Unfortunately, it is normal for fashion companies to offer unpaid internships or college credit opportunities. Although some companies are starting to change after legal issues have arisen in the industry for overworking interns, many continue to offer opportunities at an unpaid or college credit basis. The reality is, there are just too many people willing to accept almost any conditions for an opportunity to break into the industry.

Every company has a different way of working with their interns. There are some companies that provide dedicated internship programs – offering learning opportunities, special outings and networking events specifically catered to helping interns grow and understand what area interests them the most. 

Other companies may provide internal perks, such as attending fashion shows or events, employee discounts and transportation or lunch stipends in lieu of payment.

Don't be discouraged!

There are many benefits to being an intern in the fashion industry.

girls working at desks bright room internship fashion

Internships...

⇒  Build your resume, making you more appealing to future companies
⇒   Help you get into a company if you have limited experience
⇒   Give you first hand experience that you can take to all future jobs
⇒  May provide possible employee discounts or additional perks
⇒   Build valuable relationships that can translate into a job after college
⇒   Help expand your industry network and professional connections
⇒   May give you a first look into campaigns, events or upcoming seasonal designs
⇒  Provide the opportunity to try different career paths and see which you like best

REALITY VS EXPECTATION

INTERNING AT A FASHION COMPANY

Interns are often hired by fashion companies to assist in the day-to-day operations of the brand and can include tasks varying from fetching coffee to assisting with photo shoots.

Personally, it frustrates me to hear stories of interns who were solely hired for the purpose of grabbing coffee and dry cleaning. As someone who interned at the start of her career and learned so much as well as someone has worked WITH interns for years – I understand the importance of a quality internship in the professional life of a student. Who better to learn from than someone in the industry? 

Unfortunately, there are still some employers out there that don’t see it this way, meaning you may be one of the unlucky ones who has to grab coffees and order lunches on a daily basis. If this happens, try to weigh the good against the bad.

Are you getting learning experiences from your work surroundings and the overall day-to-day? Is there any part of the job that gives you insight into the position you’re interning for? If yes, then grin and bear it – even for a little while. Get the most knowledge and experience possible out of your internship before you move on. The most important thing to remember is that you should be learning, whether this means from your manager or simply from your surroundings. 

One of the best things about internships is that you will get direct exposure to the day-to-day within a specific department or facet of the industry. Spending time at your internship will help you to confirm what you like or don’t like about a specific role. Similarly, it can help you build valuable relationships that can translate into a a great recommendation or even a job after college.

ON THE JOB

POSSIBLE INTERNSHIPS

While there are many different types of internships that exist in the fashion industry today, these are just a few to give you an idea of what you could possibly end up working on. Keep in mind that all internships will be different depending on the company.

PHOTO SHOOTS
Depending on the location, photo shoots can be complicated and expensive projects for fashion companies. Interns are brought to the shoots to make sure that everyone has what is needed so the shoot runs smoothly. As an intern, you may help to dress models, locate accessories, provide the staff with drinks and snacks and run any additional errands that are necessary to help keep the shoot on schedule and the staff happy.

SAMPLE COORDINATION
A big job that is often given to interns or entry level professionals is the coordination of samples. This is especially important for marketing and PR roles as they are the teams that deal with samples the most. The most important part of the role is keeping track of who checks out each wardrobe piece or accessory and to make sure that everything is properly arranged/easy to find. From time to time, you may be asked to steam samples before sending or using for meetings and photo shoots.

RESEARCH
While it may seem strange (or not so glamorous), it’s actually very common to help your team with research. Depending on the size of the department, there may not enough staff or time to sit down and get necessary information, which is where interns come in. The level of research you are asked to do could be as specific as looking for event venue options with criteria given from the client to as broad as researching international product facts and information in preparation for a new product launch. 

SOME ADDITIONAL INTERNSHIP EXPERIENCES INCLUDE:
•  Becoming familiar with the ins and outs of clothing, accessories, footwear lines within a company
•  Learning how to determine and keep up with the latest trends in the industry
•  Sitting in for market meetings where sales teams determine what merchandise will be sold in stores or boutiques
•  Field visits and access to restricted areas, such as production factories, to see how they operate
•  Learning how to merchandise product properly within a showroom or sales floor based on inventory or focus
•  A chance to assist with fashion shows and events or seasonal campaign launches
•  Learning how to select and combine fabric swatches, buttons, and any add-ons to create unique designs
•  Working in showrooms that feature designer clothing lines and accessories sold to boutiques, department stores, and online

ADDITIONAL NOTES

IMPORTANT THINGS TO CONSIDER

These days, it’s easy to jump on your laptop and google search what you’re looking for – internships are no exception. While it may seem easy to look for them online, there are a few things you should keep in mind:

JUST AS EASY AS IT IS FOR YOU TO SEARCH, SO CAN THOUSANDS OF OTHERS.
Think of yourself as a brand you are marketing to a company. Your job is to make sure you market your ‘brand’ as completely, professionally and confidently as possible. Create a killer resume, making sure to add keywords from the job description and a cover letter (most people will request this, some won’t) that clearly states what you will bring to the table while also mentioning the connection you have to the brand or role. Companies love to hear why you are passionate about their product or brand. The key is to give them something to remember you by that will set you apart from the competition.


INTERNSHIPS ARE NOT ALWAYS POSTED.

In many cases, internships aren’t advertised, which means the seeker has to do some digging. What this means for you: it’s time to ask friends or family if they know anyone in the industry that could be looking for an intern or assistant. Once provided a contact, be sure to reach out as professionally as possible. In this case, it’s not only your reputation you have to think about, but especially the person who referred you. Why this approach works: sending a message to a potential employer will show your resourcefulness, which could automatically put you ahead of your competition. More importantly, it will show you are direct and a great (potential) employee.

vogue magazines rihanna cover

CAREER RESOURCES

WHERE TO FIND INTERNSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

DIRECTLY ON COMPANY’S SITE
Whether you love their products or their company motto, sometimes you know exactly the company you want to work for. If this is the case, the company site is the first place you should look. To take it a step further, see if you can locate the email address for the HR department (sometimes, it will be provided on the site itself, while other times, you may have to do some digging) and reach out inquiring about possible internship opportunities. Keep in mind, you may get a refusal or no answer at all. Always be gracious and professional.   


JOB SITES

There are sites dedicated to providing an endless number of job opportunities. Sites like these are so helpful when you’re searching for internships or even full time jobs because they offer current available opportunities along with job descriptions and sometimes, even the company’s background. Some of these sites even take it a step further and let you upload your resume for easy application as well as request specific search results be emailed to you personally. Top job sites include:

·   Linkedin 
·   Indeed 
·   Glassdoor
·   Simply Hired
·   Monster
·   Chegg Internships


FASHION JOB SITES
Some sites are exclusively fashion-based and can cut out all the other opportunities, making it easier for you to search. Be aware that sometimes this means broader roles, such as digital marketing or social media, could potentially be cut from showing up on certain sites due to their non-fashion exclusive nature. Overall, these are a great place to look, even if just to get a better idea of what roles companies are looking for and their requirements/descriptive keywords. Some fashion favorites include: 

·   Stylecareers
·   Fashionista 
·   VelvetJobs 
·   Fashion Workie
·   Free Fashion Internships
·   International (filter/search term: fashion)


YOUR SCHOOL’S CAREER CENTER
There’s no better place to start the search than with your school’s career center or career advisor. Many times, you will be able to work one on one with an advisor who will take into consideration what you’re searching for in addition to your skills. The best part of going to an advisor is that they usually have the best list of available internships and can get you an interview faster than if you did it on your own (this is not always the case, but most of the time it definitely is). 


SOCIAL MEDIA
These days, you can literally find a Facebook group for just about any topic. Believe it or not, the number of groups dedicated to a specific field or industry is growing everyday. Do some research and find the tools you need for your internship search. You’d be surprised at what you find on different social platforms. 

Shameless Plug: Want to get weekly fashion internship opportunities, job threads, industry spotlights and so much more? Join our private Facebook community where we work together to help our members find and cultivate their dream careers in the fashion industry.

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BONUS MATERIAL

HOW TO SUCCEED AS AN INTERN

TREAT YOUR INTERNSHIP AS SERIOUSLY AS A JOB

Be there on time, be responsible and take it seriously. Many times, even when you think your employer isn’t watching – they are. Hard work will land you a killer recommendation letter for future potential opportunities. It may even land you the job.

BE PROFESSIONAL

Basic office rules apply here: stay off personal social media, dress appropriately and do every task with enthusiasm. Most importantly: pay attention to office culture. This can be a guide for dress code and attire, how and when to meet with coworkers or senior members of the team (do you need an appointment, etc.), lunch breaks and where/how things are placed or put away around the office. While many of these are common office etiquette, you should always be mindful of yourself and others around you as each office experience is unique.

NETWORK AND MAKE CONTACTS

Interning gives you the chance to come in contact with so many people. Due to the nature of the business, you’re talking to people on a daily basis which allows the opportunity to build relationships over email and over the phone. Don’t be afraid to connect with them on professional social networks, such as Linkedin. Bonus points if you ask for a recommendation. (Note: only do this if you worked together, don’t just ask random people at the company for them!)

GO ABOVE AND BEYOND

Just because you are there doesn’t mean you have to do your basic job description. Doing more than what is asked of you will help you get noticed and be valued. It will also show your colleagues that you want to be there and you’re not just doing it to pass the time. Going above and beyond the regular job description will also help you stand out. Many companies employ interns on a rolling basis, so it is vital that you set yourself apart from the other groups of interns. The idea is that you make yourself indispensable to your superiors so that when the internship period is over, they will want to offer you a place on the team permanently.

TRY NEW THINGS, BUT KNOW WHEN IT’S NOT A FIT

It’s completely normal to do an internship and realize that it’s not right for you. The reality is, you would never have known if you hadn’t done it. If you find that you truly didn’t enjoy it, ask yourself why. Was it the brand? Your colleagues and the overall culture of the office? The role and overall scope of work? Realizing you didn’t like a particular role or company can help you immensely, especially at the start of your career. This will give you the opportunity to understand what direction to turn to next. 

FROM THE FOUNDER

FINAL THOUGHTS

In the end, internships are a great way to get firsthand experience in the role of your choosing while also learning about how a company works. It’s the perfect low-commitment way to test out a job and career path. Are some of the Devil Wears Prada horror stories true? Sure, some of them are. After all, the fashion industry was built on drama, glamour and very big egos. However, for most of us, even with all the dramatics of the industry, we do it because we love every part of it and could not imagine doing anything else every single day. If this sounds like you, be prepared for a wild ride where no two days are ever the same. Grow thick skin, stay curious, learn everything you can and work hard. As long as you take internships seriously, you are sure to benefit.

Want to feel more confident about applying to an internship and breaking into the industry in general? Sign up for my personal coaching services where I break down step by step actions you can take to ensure your transition into fashion is seamless.

It’s important to remember that in the end, even if you don’t get hired from an internship, each one you work on will increase the skills you learn and grow your professional circle of connections. Down the line, these are the key factors that will get you the job. Good luck! 

x Maria

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73 thoughts on “Fashion Internships: Why They’re Vital To Your Career & How To Find One Easily

  1. If nothing else, internships are great for figuring out what you do and don’t want in a career. Great article

  2. Any internship + the right mindset can give you a wealth of knowledge and insight. You’ll quickly learn what’s in your wheelhouse and what isn’t. And, sometimes you find a good fit at the right organization. It can be a win-win as long as your goals are solid and clear.

  3. I think any internship is vital to gaining some real hands-on experience in the field you’re looking to get into. You have provided such thorough information on the fashion industry sure to greatly help an intern.

  4. Great post! Internships are wonderful for many careers. It allows you to get the “real-life” knowledge that is often not given during school.

  5. Love your internship tips! I thought Conde Naste did away with unpaid internships after the got sued a few years ago?

  6. So many things I never even thought about before! This is definitely a great read for people that want in on the fashion market!

  7. Anyone looking to break into the fashion industry, this is a definite must read. Great post, so well put together

  8. I’m not in the fashion industry, but in communications, all the beginning internships are also unpaid. I did like 2 or 3 unpaid internships before a company decided to hire me on part-time and pay me.

  9. This is a wonderfully detailed article! It’s so frustrating that many internships are unpaid, but it’s such valuable experience that you don’t want to pass up. Great tips for those looking to get their foot in the door of the fashion industry!

  10. This is fantastic! I can attest to the value of internships for any industry. It’s so important on many, many levels. Thanks for sharing!

  11. Love this article! So many great points about the benefits of fashion internships!! Would love if you could write more about sustainability in fashion 😍

  12. Very useful tips for those who aspire to be fashion designers.

  13. This is a great article. very informative and direct to the point. Thanks for sharing!

  14. Great advice for anyone starting out in this industry.

  15. I’m totally in for internships, even if poorly paid, unpaid or with poor conditions. I think there’s a lot to learn from those experiences. But when you talk about fashion internship I just can’t but think of “The Devil Wears Prada”!!! 😂

  16. Wow, this article has so many tips that can be used even for non-fashion internships. This is an must-read!

  17. This is such a valuable resource for anyone looking to break into the fashion industry. I will send this link to my friend as she is seeking paid internships for the summer!

    1. Thanks for the share, Jennifer! Our goal is to help anyone looking to break into the industry and to make the job/internship search easier.

  18. An internship with a fashion magazine was one of my dreams when I was a teenager.

    1. Yes! Mine too!

  19. This is what my cousin would love. She is very much fond of western fashion as well as traditional.

  20. Such wonderful advice!

    1. Glad you enjoyed it, Laura! Thanks for reading xx

  21. This is a really great blog posting with A LOT of resources and useful information — even if you are not looking for a fashion internship but just a foot in the door of your desired career. Great article!

    1. Thank you so much for your feedback, Kristin. I’m happy you enjoyed the article and hopefully got some inspiration! xx

  22. I have no idea about the fashion industry but this post would give me an idea of how Fashion internship works nice post!

    1. It’s not easy, the industry or the internship culture, but if you love the industry – it’s all worth it and can be an incredible learning experience!

  23. i hadn’t realized that most internships were unpaid nowadays, I thought this had shifted. Wow. I had no clue.Just shows that you have to be willing to crawl B4 you can run(way)

    1. Haha loved the joke! Yes, unfortunately, at least in this industry – many internships remain unpaid or for college credit. I think it will be hard to change seeing as it is one of the only ways in and so many people are willing to do it to break into the industry.

  24. Great advices! I normally use the sites the you recommend, they are valid!

    1. Yes, they are our go-to sites for job searches!

  25. Amazingly inciteful post, with some great advice too x

    1. Thanks so much, Jo. I hope it helped! x

  26. Such great advice!! I had no idea there were so many opportunities out there in the fashion industry.

    1. There are tons! Some easier to reach than others, but it’s a crazy (and competitive) industry for sure.

  27. It’s essential to understand that unpaid work isn’t necessarily unfruitful – there are many rewards to reap in terms of experiences and exposure. Thank you for touching upon this crucial factor!

    1. Well said Vasundhra! Unpaid work comes with its positives and negatives, but there are always experiences that teach you and may even change the path of your career!

  28. Very informative post and beautiful blog! I think internships are vital in several career fields!

    1. Thank you so much! Internships are so important and hopefully this post (and site!) helps students and those trying to enter the industry.

  29. Such great information! I love how you spell out how to go about making your own internship by diving into projects that may not be currently in the day to day. Shows great initiative and it’s a good thing for anyone in any industry to keep in mind as a means to demonstrate critical thinking and creativity skills.

    1. It’s the stuff that managers and employers love, but for some reason not all students realize!

  30. Great info for those who are looking to get an internship in the fashion world. It is tough but one can do it!

    1. It’s not as difficult as people make it out to be, but you have to definitely go about it in a professional manner – like any opportunity. Thanks for reading! x

  31. This is so helpful. I feel like everyone usually just rushes into finding any type of internship instead of actually doing the research on which one and why.

    1. It’s true, though I feel like (hopefully) this is less the case now than it was years ago. With the help of the internet, students are able to have so much information at their fingertips that we had to rely on advisors for. The trick is how to get students to read and learn these facts to help them succeed!

  32. What great insights to help someone just starting

    1. That is the site’s biggest goal – to help people just starting out in the industry. Thanks for reading! x

  33. Thanks so much for all this info!

    1. No problem! I hope it helped xx

  34. Great read! It’s so intimidating to break into an industry

    1. It really can be so intimidating. Hopefully these tips helped! x

  35. Such great info!! Completely agree about the value of internships. When I was graduating my college, I did several that helped shaped my career. And now as a digital marketing agency owner, we place a high importance on our internship program! It’s beneficial for the student and for our agency!

    1. That’s amazing to hear! Teaching (willing) interns is invaluable for them, but also for us as employers, makes us realize we can help teach a new generation of students and fashion professionals. It’s a win-win!

  36. It’s always great to know stuff that you don’t know about. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Happy to share and glad you enjoyed it! x

  37. I also think internships are important and essential to growth in the career you want to excel in! these are some great tips — thank you for sharing!

    1. They are so important and if this post can help out even just a few people, it will be worth it!

  38. I loved reading all your tips amd advice. Your post took me back to my internships I had while in college. Internships are a great experience to have!

    1. Glad you enjoyed it and that you had great experiences to think back on!

  39. This was a very thorough article! Unpaid internships are rare or even unheard of in Canada, we have paid co-op positions. Same type of experience but less about coffee fetching, at least in the business world that I’m familiar with!

    1. Wow, Canada just always beats us with fairer treatment of people! I had no idea, thanks for sharing!

  40. This is great info for anyone looking to go into the fashion industry! Highly encourage this read, being an intern is hard in any industyr

    1. Being an intern is tough, you’re right! But it comes with great experiences and learning opportunities.

  41. I love this! And yes. That’s exactly how I found my first job as a product developer for American Apparel after my internship.

    Internships are sooo important!

    1. They really are, though it seems that (at least in this industry) a lot of employers and interns themselves don’t understand this. Internships are where your career can begin!

  42. great info thanks for sharing

    1. No problem, I hope it is helpful!

  43. This is a great blog for anyone looking for an internship, not just in fashion. Love these tips.

    1. Thanks so much! I hope it will help anyone looking for information.

  44. There is nothing worse then starting an internship where all you do is make coffees. I remember my internships during uni, which were very serious, compares with the ones of my colleagues, which were only asked to get coffee. It was bad.

    1. It’s terrible! Internships should be when hands-on experiences are taught but instead there are many companies that continue to just use interns as extra hands. Glad to hear you got lucky and learned at yours!

  45. Internships are a fantastic stepping stone! I would always say go for it

    1. Yes, I couldn’t agree more! If done right, internships can open so many doors and teach you invaluable lessons.

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