Congratulations, as of now you got the position a million girls would kill for! Now it is time to figure out how to handle it.
1. Understand what you are signing up for.
You might have been reading the magazine for years, you might love fashion to the point that you keep yourself updated with every trend and you purchase what is “in” the moment it comes out. You might also think this is your dream job yet that could not possibly be further from the truth. Let’s get one thing straight; not everyone who loves clothes and celebrities is qualified to work in a fashion magazine; in fact, most are probably better off as readers.
During my time at InStyle Magazine, I have seen many interns say this was not what they had in mind and will not return to the industry after their experience. Although figuring out what you want to do is one of the sole purposes of internships, if you are in it for the wrong reasons you will end up wasting your, and everyone else’s, time. Please do your research before applying and if you think you will be meeting models, going to runway shows, and chatting over who wore it best while posting on Instagram to make your friends jealous, don’t even bother.
2. Remember that you are an intern.
You might have got this opportunity through someone you know or purely with your own hard work. Whatever your reasons are, they do not matter anymore; you are an intern now which puts you at the very bottom of the food chain. However, that is nothing to be ashamed of. Anna Wintour did not become the editor-in-chief of Vogue in one day. As an intern you will be asked to do stuff you might think is below you and might feel insignificant at times, but that shouldn’t bring you down. You will not be doing menial tasks forever, yet it is still very important that you do them; no job should be too big or too small for you. Also, do not ask for a gold star every time you contribute something; it was probably expected of you anyway.
3. Ditch the heels. Clothes are important, but they are not everything.
On my first day at work, I wore these gorgeous red stilettos thinking, “This is a fashion magazine so obviously heels are a must.” Looking back, I believe it was one of the biggest mistakes I have ever made. Not only was I exhausted from running around with heels all day, but I left a pretty bad impression on my editors as well. It’s true that what you wear matters, especially compared to other workplaces. That being said, nobody expects an intern to show up runway-ready in designer clothes. Usually people save their extremely chic outfits for big events and show up to the office in stylish, yet comfortable clothes to work in.
P.S: This doesn’t mean that you cannot wear heels at all, but when you do, just make sure that you won’t be doing a lot of walking that day.
4. Let your editors/directors know that you are there for them.
Your editors/directors have a lot on their shoulders and they wouldn’t turn down a helping hand. When you start working, do not expect people to come to you; you have to be the one to go introduce yourself and tell them you are there to help if they need anything. Personally, I learned so much from my editors and thought they were the best part of my experience there. Building good relationships with your co-workers is essential, since it makes the work environment a lot friendlier and a more comfortable place for everybody.
5. Be credible.
You are in a situation where good work ethics and determination will only get you so far. You have to keep in mind that fashion equals change, which means you need to be one step ahead of the game at all times. Besides knowing the obvious (important people in the publishing world, designers, supermodels, couture brands, etc.) try to educate yourself with different aspects of fashion in order to have a better understanding of it. Read articles, go through archives of runways, watch interviews, do whatever it takes to understand that fashion is more than what you put on your back.
Tip: Follow Instagram accounts of high fashion personas: @carineroitfeld, @derekblasberg, @mertalas, @riccardotisci17
6. Never turn any job down.
Internships are what you make of them, so whenever an opportunity rises for you to improve yourself, take it even if your hands are full. Remember that every task you are given will come back to you as experience. It might get a bit overwhelming at times, but that is how you grow!
7. Understand the courtesy of photo shoots.
They sure are one of the most exciting parts of your job, but they are not half as easy as the media portrays them to be. A lot of hard work goes into a photo shoot, especially if it is a cover or a fashion shoot that includes a model. You wouldn’t believe how many hours and people are behind that one picture you flip through while browsing your magazine! Your job as an intern is to be active and ready; stand next to your editor/director at all times in case they need anything, make sure you know which piece is where, and most importantly try to learn as much as you can. Observe how things are done, get involved if you can, and do not be afraid to ask questions when you are stuck, because photoshoots can get very tricky.
8. Don’t be overly chatty.
Of course there is nothing wrong with making small talk every once in a while or asking people how they are in the morning. There were a bunch of interns where I worked who travelled in packs and often disappeared to go hang out somewhere. Those were the ones who were not given any tasks and got nothing out of their experience. You can still have time to socialize with your fellow interns; that is what lunch time is for! However, once you are working, beware of your responsibilities and understand that by trying to make a conversation at every chance you get, you are giving out a rather bad impression.
9. Keep in mind that if you want to be successful, your job must be your priority.
Yes, you will have to miss a few dinners and nights out, along with some other fun outings your friends are doing. I had to give up drinking on weekdays since I showed up to office hungover once and couldn’t function as well as I wished to. You have to make some sacrifices in order to achieve the success you want and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. There will be other parties and get-togethers, just accept this period of your life as an investment to your future and focus on your work.
10. Don’t be afraid to state your opinions.
Being an intern doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to agree with everything you are told. Fashion is a business of creativity and if you have an idea you feel is worth sharing, don’t hold yourself back. As long as you are being respectful I am sure people will love to hear more about it.