I went to college in NYC with the intention of making it big in the fashion world. Naturally, I knew getting a stellar internship was the first thing I needed to do to make my dreams come true. A few days after I moved, a friend helped me land an interview in the PR department at Nicole Miller. At the time, I was a cocky, overzealous 19 year-old; so in my head, the internship was already mine. I mean, how could they not like me?
What happened once I got to the interview was very different from (in fact, the opposite) of the scenario that I had imagined. Instead of telling me when my first day was, the Director of PR gave me a long list of all the reasons I would never make it in fashion. It was a real lesson straight from the school of hard knocks. At the time, I was devastated, and it took some time to really process and apply what he had told me. Looking back, I am so grateful for the advice because it helped me in the long run, and prevented me from making the same mistakes twice.
Once I got the courage to step foot into an interview for a fashion internship again, I ended up landing a few good ones: NYLON, People’s Revolution and Vogue. However, it took me falling flat on my face to really learn the ins and outs of the industry. Don’t make the same mistakes that I did. Avoid these things, and your chances of landing your dream internship are high:
DON’T Say you have a passion for fashion
Chances are your future employer will ask why you want to get into fashion; make sure you have an intelligent, insightful answer. You might think it is cute to say you have a passion for fashion (yes, wow, it rhymes), but there is nothing that will make you sound more amateur. It will solidify that you don’t know what you are talking about. From the outside fashion seems glamorous and glittery, but it is a serious industry.
DON’T Dress inappropriately
Getting dressed for an interview in fashion can be stressful. There is no doubt about it: what you wear is important. However, you have to find the balance of showcasing your personal style, while being professional at the same time. You still are at a job interview. There are certain looks you should totally avoid: black bra with see thru white shirt, pants with holes in them, and inappropriate skirt lengths.
DON’T only know mall brands
What do I mean by this? If you want to work in the industry, you need to know more than your average consumer. I can assure you, no matter what kind of job you are looking for in fashion, they are going to ask you to list your favorite designers. It is not okay to only say brands that you can find in every mall, ie: Gap, J. Crew, Express. You should be able to name at least 3 real designers, and intelligently be able to describe why you like them. Before you go to an interview, watch a few of your favorite designers’ runway shows, so you can talk about the collections and their aesthetics.
DON’T lack knowledge important people
Fashion is more than just designers. There are magazine editors, bloggers, photographers and models, etc. In interviews, I have been asked questions about all of the above. You should spend time researching the “who’s who” of fashion. I am not saying you have to know every photographer in the world, but you should be able to have a conversation about the big ones. Or if you really liked a shoot in last month’s Vogue, know who modeled in it. Fashion isn’t the fluffy industry everyone thinks it is; it is truly an art form, and it takes a lot of moving pieces to produce beautiful images and clothes.
DON’T be rude
Fashion PR girls have such a bad reputation, and it is not necessary. Despite what you might have seen or heard before, you don’t have to be a b*tch to make it far in the industry. In fact, if you are nice, you will stand out even more. Especially in an interview, you should be on your best behavior; remember what your mama taught you! Also, remember the small personal touches, after the interview, such as a handwritten thank you note.
I am not going to lie fashion is a competitive industry, just because there are so many people competing for the same positions. Interning is the only way to get your foot in the door because most people hire interns because they already know the ropes. All interviews can be scary at first, but if you just remain confident and do your research beforehand, you will come out on top!
Photo Credit: DDW – Fotografia