If it's always been your dream to work in fashion, then you probably know that the best way to get your foot in the door (and get invaluable experience) is by doing internships. Unfortunately, fashion internships are highly competitive, and aren't always easy to land. If you're on the hunt, I've got some tips for landing a fashion internship that might make the process a little more painless.
I moved to New York City right after college and landed my first fashion internship, which was maybe the most grueling and impressionable experience of my life. Following that, I went to NYU for graduate school, where I did another internship that eventually landed me my job. I never would have gotten my position without having done that internship, so I know how important it is to spend time doing internships and networking as much as possible. But as exhausting, demanding, and work-intensive as fashion internships can be — finding one can be even harder.
Ask anyone who's ever interned in fashion and they'll tell you, it's one of the most competitive industries, and everyone is gunning for the same spot, so you don't want to just go about it by sending off a resume into cyberspace and hoping for the best. Here are 10 tips for landing a summer fashion internship, and I can attest to their relevance by personal experience.
1. Start Early
Because fashion internships are so competitive, you have to be extra on the ball. Start your search early (think several months in advance) to give yourself plenty of time, and make sure to pay attention to deadlines.
2. Nail Your Cover Letter
If you're in school, your campus career office might be able to help you perfect and proof your cover letter, but regardless, make sure your letter is not generic and you have something unique in there about yourself that you can't find on your resume. Show your personality (while making sure to keep it brief — don't go over a page!), and make sure you include specific details about the company and why you'd want to work for them in particular.
3. Perfect Your Resume
If you're interning, you shouldn't have a ton of experience, so lengthy resumes are a no-no. Keep your resume to one page, and break it down by category. "Fashion Experience" is a must, but then add another header for the type of internship you're applying for (i.e., if you're applying at a magazine, "Journalism Experience.") Prioritize what's relevant to keep it short and to the point. If you haven't interned before or don't have any experience, you can always include relevant classes you took or extracurricular activities that would prepare you for the internship.
4. Subscribe To The Right Sources
A lot of internships are acquired through school or through personal connections, but many are posted online. Make sure you subscribe to or monitor websites that routinely post fashion internships, such as freefashioninternships.com, ed2010.com, and internships.com. And don't skip Twitter — you can find plenty on there through a brands/company's personal accounts.
5. Reach Out
Sure, plenty of places post internships, but you better believe that as soon as that listing goes up, applications are flooding in. If there's a certain place that's at the top of your list to intern at, don't wait for them to post. Instead, send your resume and cover letter off to the appropriate person (you can usually find contact details online) and specify that you're interested in a summer internship. You don't want to bombard them a year in advance, but usually a season ahead of time is appropriate to start sending.
6. Pay Attention To Requirements
It's easy to get anxious when a listing goes up for an internship, but make sure you read the requirements carefully. If they specify sending three writing samples, send three and only three. If they request a specific subject line, make sure you include it. If they ask for everything in the body of an email and no attachments, you better not attach. Make sure you follow the instructions to a tee, or you could risk blowing it before they've even read your letter.
7. Apply To More Than One
Don't have your heart set on one place — internships are competitive, so if you want to build up experience, make sure you apply to a few different internships to give yourself the best chance of getting one.
8. Censor Your Social Media Presence
Believe me — they will check you out online. Make sure your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. are locked down, and nothing inappropriate can get out there. Better yet, just make sure not to post anything inappropriate on social media and avoid the anxiety all together.
9. Consider The Brand's Aesthetic
If you get an in-person interview, take the brand's aesthetic into consideration when dressing. If it's an edgier brand, you don't want to show up all dolled up in your preppy finest, or vice versa. You want to prove you understand the brand and would fit right in.
10. Stay In Touch
If you don't get an internship, stay in touch, because they might remember you when a spot opens up the following year. That doesn't mean bug them every few weeks, but maybe shoot off an email every few months. Conversely, if you turn an internship down because you've accepted another one, don't write it off. Your internship might not lead to a job, and you want to keep your options open. Networking is everything in fashion, and the more connections you have, the better. Don't burn any bridges, or assume an opportunity is gone just because you didn't get the job this time around.
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