I’ve been asked this question many, many times since high school. During a recent trip home I discovered a paper I had written during the first week of my Senior year, talking about my plans to study journalism in college and eventually intern with a fashion magazine. I guess you could say I’ve been “chasing the dream” ever since. I spent this past fall living in New York, studying as a “Visiting Student” at NYU, and interning at Seventeen Magazine for the Sittings Editor.
If you’re in the same boat as I am and would like to someday work in fashion, here are a few things I learned along the way and some good advice I picked up…
1. The best websites to find internships are Ed2010, Daily Fashion Jobs, and Free Fashion Internships. Ed2010 focuses specifically on magazine internships, which are not all fashion-based. The other two sites include internships with designers, showrooms, PR agencies, and magazines. You’re more likely to get a position with a Condé Nast publication by applying through Ed2010 than through the summer internship program listed on their website.
2. After you interview, send a thank you card, not a thank you email. You should send a handwritten thank you note. I heard my boss at Seventeen reiterate many times the importance of a handwritten note. Editors receive hundreds of emails each day and chances are yours would just get lost in the shuffle and not leave a lasting impression.
3. Ask questions, but not too many and only at the right time. Use your best judgment…
4. In response to the recent New York Times Article – “One Ivy League student said she spent an unpaid three-month internship at a magazine packaging and shipping 20 or 40 apparel samples a day back to fashion houses that had provided them for photo shoots.” I recently interviewed with someone at Vanity Fair who frankly told me that interns in the fashion closet are always capable of doing much more than their assigned tasks. You will learn more from absorbing your surroundings and observing how a magazine office runs, not from checking-in and returning hundreds of clothing samples. These internships are the means to an end.
5. Also from the New York Times – “Don’t listen to other people,” Ms. Astley said. “If you want to work in fashion, you should do it. You should move to New York.”
Yes, it may sometimes seem like The Devil Wears Prada. Yes, you will probably be unpaid, or will technically pay for an internship class in order to get the job. Yes, it is worth it – plus, you may even see your name in the masthead or catch an amazing sunset during a photo shoot.