An internship is a rite of passage for many aspiring fashion students, offering a bird’s-eye view at the industry and above all, some much-needed exposure. If you haven’t already taken the leap, chances are you are looking at it through rose-tinted glasses. And while having a pleasant outlook on an internship is expected, reality can prove itself to be rather grueling or extremely rewarding. Regardless, survival of the most professional can only open up a window of opportunities to branch out from. Based on team TFE’s past experiences in the fashion world and with recent graduates, here are a number of challenges and realities that young workers often predict without knowing what they’re really going to face.
|Fashion week internships serve as an opportunity playground to meet and interact with designers.||Apart from gaining a prestigious backstage pass to absorb a runway showing, fashion week internships offer a great tangible experience with designer wear rather than the designer itself — it exposes you to couture like you’ve never felt in-store and can serve as a great opportunity to study quality and fabric choices. As far as the actual designers are concerned, they are usually strung-out on high-stress levels just before show time, especially when their precious works lie in the hands of an intern whose sole responsibility lay in taking utmost care of the garment and getting it on the assigned model within seconds whilst making sure the look isn’t compromised. That being said, backstage internships aren’t the best place to switch on your ‘networking’ mode.|
|Internships under renown designers are the only ones that matter.||While scoring an opportunity to work under a famous designer is great and can look really impressive on a résumé, working for a burgeoning brand has more benefits. From an informal atmosphere to faster on-the-job learning — given the right first impressions, you could be handling a lot more responsibility that will offer you a great outlook on the inner workings of setting up and sustaining a fashion label. Whereas established brands have an organised structure that could very well place you at the bottom of the pyramid, leaving you with a lot less exposure than imagined.|
|When working under a designer, you’ll get to design something as well.||As far as internships go, this usually doesn’t ring true. Chances are you could get involved in minor research work for an upcoming collection and can be asked to develop prints or other designs — if this works out well and there isn’t already a design assistant or two present, you could eventually work your way up and get involved in major design development.|
|Interning for a stylist is a great way to meet celebrities.||This fact is certainly true and while the job profile certainly exudes a ton of glamour, the grunt work involved isn’t a cakewalk. Working for a stylist usually entails a lot of drop offs and pick-ups bearing in mind some really gruelling work hours and extensive travel. Especially if costume designing for a movie or advertisement is involved, the call-times can be at unearthly hours leaving you with respite into the wee hours of the night. Careful consideration is required when applying to this portion of the industry, the results can be fairly rewarding given the amount of dedication.|
|An internship at a magazine is easy and glamorous.||Despite what The Devil Wears Prada had you believe, working at a magazine can have its fair share of stressful moments. Sure, fixed working hours and weekends off are the best plus-point of working at a magazine, but the moment that nears closing an issue can drive everyone up the wall, especially interns. Expect to be professionally liaising with brand PR’s for images, lookbooks or product call-ins — some of which may include personally making house calls at brands for product pick-ups. If you’re lucky, you could be helping the editor with research on stories and themes for upcoming issues. On other days, you could be given the duty to reorganise the fashion or beauty closet which shouldn’t be taken lightly. Magazines mean serious business, and an intern’s presence must help them function as a well-oiled machine — being observant and serious about learning and improving are a necessary pre-requisite to survive here.|
|Internships almost always guarantee a permanent position in eventuality.||This is extremely relative to your performance as an intern. By taking initiative, asking the right questions, executing each task with genuine enthusiasm, treating your internship as a professional job and making yourself seem indispensable can some how make that permanent position happen.|