Ask anyone in fashion how they got their start in the industry and many, if not all, will tell you it was through an internship; this includes celebrity designers! Once upon a time (before they were the designers we know and love), Stella McCartney interned at Christian Lacroix and Tom Ford was an intern at Chloe. Hard to believe, right?
Internships are an essential aspect of any fashion career because they give you a behind-the-scenes look at a particular facet of the industry. In a broad sense, they help you determine what your strengths are, what you love to do and even what you don’t; all things that will eventually help you decide what your full time career will be in the future.
In a much more specific aspect, they give you a chance to be a part of a company’s core values, their office environment and a specific department’s day-to-day assignments. As someone who is just starting out, you will need career guidance, work experience and industry exposure – all things that an internship can and will provide.
Where to Find Internship Opportunities
We’ve put together a list of our favorite resources to help you get started on your search for the internship that will open the doors to your dream career. Keep in mind that it may take a few internships to find the company or role that you absolutely love, but with each one you try, you build your resume with amazing hands-on experience and that is exactly what companies in the industry are looking for.
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.
When on their site, 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. If you can’t, try to find any email address and start from there.
Keep in mind, you may get a refusal or no answer at all. Don’t give up! Continue your search, especially if this is a company you have your heart set on. Look for other ways to get through. Just remember to always be gracious and professional.
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. Our top picks for job sites include:
FASHION SPECIFIC SITES
Some sites are exclusively fashion-based and can cut out all the other opportunities, making it easier for you to search. However, this also means that sometimes broader, more vague roles are not highlighted. Jobs such as digital marketing or social media could potentially be cut from showing up on certain sites due to their non-fashion exclusive nature.
In this case, you need to get super specific when searching for keywords within these sites. Many times, even if the words aren’t in the title, the job description will likely include what you’re looking for (or some variation of it).
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:
→ 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.
One of the best things about working with 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).
Additionally, depending on the length of time you are at your school, your advisor could truly become someone that knows your work ethic, interests and can really help you when searching for your internship opportunities.
Remember to always communicate exactly what you’re looking for, likes and dislikes, things you’re willing to try and those that you are really not interested in. The more information your advisor has, the better he/she can help you in your search.
In the end, remember that whatever internship you decide on is based on what YOU want to try. Your advisor is there to aid in the search, recommend companies/opportunities and help you explore/understand. It’s their job to help advise you, but ultimately, the choice is yours and yours alone.
With ‘rona craziness changing the way we do everything from learning to working to grocery shopping, social media has become the most powerful way of connecting. This is especially true within the fashion industry, where designers have launched incredibly creative digital shows and held intense panel discussions.
If you look through apps like LinkedIn and Instagram, you are sure to find internship opportunities where reaching out to opportunity posters is totally possible.
If you decide to reach out, remember to keep your message short and sweet. Let them know you’re interested in the opportunity, provide contact information and ask where the best place to send your resume is. Also, BE PROFESSIONAL. Just because you are sending a DM or private message on Linkedin doesn’t mean you should sound like you’re talking to your friends. This is, after all, the first impression you will be giving the representative of this company.
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.
FROM THE FOUNDER
Internships are an excellent way to learn important aspects of whatever role you want to pursue in the industry. They provide hands-on experience and give you an opportunity to test out various roles before settling down on one. Additionally, they give you an advantage over others who have not had this exposure as well as help you grow your list of industry connections.
My most memorable internship was at Ralph Lauren my senior year of college. Shortly after graduation, I was offered a full time job and remained with the company for seven years doing everything from public relations to marketing + events and even ecommerce styling.
In the end, no matter what company you decide to intern for, the lessons you learn and take away from the internship are ultimately up to you. While testing the waters with different companies could provide an invaluable resource, if you don’t take advantage of the opportunity, it is meaningless.
So, before you say yes to your first or next internship, remember that your integrity and work ethic should be evident from day one. Treat your internship like your full-time job. THIS is how you learn, how you get the job and how those industry doors will open for you every time.