Internships, stages, work experiences – different words for the same thing: working while you’re still studying, or when you have just graduated. So when is the time to get your first internship? Now. When is it too early to get your first working experience? Never. When are you experienced enough to have something to offer? Always. How to get an internship in fashion? Read on and start looking for it.
I will never cease to repeat just how important, I think it is to transfer the knowledge you have from the classroom into real life. And I don’t think it’s ever too early to start. I have taught a lot of 1st year Fashion Design students – some as young as 17 years – and what I recommended all of them to do in the summer holiday was to go looking for a working experience. Because the ones, who did, returned after the holidays as different people. Gone were the young and unprepared kids – back were the fashion designers of the future with new knowledge, and an understanding of how the industry works.
Drawing is not something you just do in class. It’s something you do to communicate your ideas of the new collection that will be presented during fashion week. Pattern cutting is not something you just do in class. It’s how you make your ideas come into life. It’s the understanding you need to make possible what you imagine. And how do research, stylists, fitting models and PR agencies fit into all this? Well, now they know. I didn’t just repeat this to the 1st years. I repeated this to any possible student I met during my five years of teaching.
So how to get an internship in fashion? Well, to this there are many answers. Networking will open a lot of doors to you (if you’re well-prepared, that is), and I recommend it’s something you should take very seriously. Just like models go on ‘go sees’, you should go out and meet people. From there all you have to do is proposing your talented self to anybody in the industry, who you can imagine would benefit from it. And don’t focus on how much you want the placement – turn it around and explain to them just how they will benefit from taking you in.
Your university will perhaps have a Career Service that will be aware of anybody looking to take in a design student for a certain period. Drop by the Career Service to make sure, they know who you are, and just how motivated and hard-working you are. Otherwise sending your CV and a cover letter to companies in the industry can also get you, what you want (read more about that here). Whether they will get back to you, and if it will be successful, depends on how busy they are, and if they’re interested. Don’t give up because of a few disappointments. Just don’t ever give up.
Showing up in person with your work under the arm? It’s hard to say how it will be received. They will most likely love or hate it. Trust your intuition – but just remember that people are very, very busy. I’ve never done it, but this isn’t of course a reason, why you shouldn’t try. Just remember that people are busy.
So what are you expected to do during an internship? Could be anything. Will it be paid? Depends, and here there are a lot of rules. Some are followed and some are totally ignored. Should you take an unpaid internship? I’ve always done it, and I would advice student to do it in order to get the experience. Is it legal? Comes back to the rules of whether unpaid stages are allowed, and if you have a passport and/or visa that allow you to work. How long hours do you work? As long as is needed. Should you accept something for an unknown brand? You should take anything you can get your hands on. Now go get it. You can party in Ibiza another time.