Before you begin, the first thing you need to do is dispel any Anne Hathaway/America Ferrera illusions from your mind. You will NOT be the geeky girl who connects with the big boss on a personal level and has now been promoted in an unprecedented time and is keeping the company running. The job is NOT all fabulous shows and fashion closets to die for; it is real and difficult, but rewarding and valuable if you have the right approach.
Still believe this is for you? Then keep reading!
Find your niche and do your research
Are you bound for fashion styling? Designing? Merchandising? Or perhaps publishing is more your calling? Deciding where you fit in this well-heeled world is as simple as reflecting on your strengths. If your head is filled with prints and textiles, interning with a designer or production manager might be a natural fit. If you’re a strong writer with a grasp on the latest trends, you’ll benefit from investigating fashion publishing.
Write a killer resume and cover letter
Once you’ve singled out your passion, it’s time to apply – everywhere.
As well as directly reaching out to the organisations that most interest you, search for fashion-related internships posted on sites such as Fashionunited.co.uk and Indeed.co.uk.
The bad news is that this isn’t simply a matter of writing one cover letter and sending it to 20 organisations. Each letter needs to be personalised with the name of the hiring manager and specific knowledge about the company at which you’re applying, including the reason you think you’re perfect for the job. Writing applications for internships can be a time-intensive process, but it’s worth getting it right.
A few tips:
DO research each organisation and track down the right person to address in your application. This probably means making a few unfamiliar phone calls and doing some super-sleuth work on LinkedIn.
DO show a bit of personality: talk about your interests, passions and goals, but…
DON’T share your life story. Keep your cover letter and resume to one page each.
Nail your interview
Dress to impress! First impressions are everything in this industry and your aesthetic is key. Dress to reflect your personal style; this is a fashion job and they do not want you turning up in a formal suit. But remember to still keep it professional; avoid plunging necklines and micro minis.
Know your stuff, because there is nothing less impressive than a potential intern who doesn’t know the latest ventures of the company or who the senior staff are. You don’t need to know their star signs and what the office Christmas party theme was, but it helps to know the names of major editors/designers and what was in the latest issue.
Follow up, follow up; follow up! Often these people can get so busy that it’s really in your favour to give a gentle reminder in the form of a thank you e-mail, letting them know that you look forward to hearing from them. This is courteous, subtle and it shows that you’re determined.
FINAL TIP FOR MY AMBITIOUS CONDE NAST ASPIRERS
Do you have serious Vogue-esque aspirations? Conde Nast publications do not accept intern/workplace shadowing applications via e-mail. You need to select your preferred magazines, check the masthead for details of the Managing Editor and post a copy of your CV with a covering letter. All Conde Nast publications offer a two or four week workplace shadowing scheme, but you must apply at least six months before you want to start.
Words by Ayaan Omar
The UK's first Career & Lifestyle Magazine for women in the Creative and Media industries.