Published: 27 Feb 2014
The fashion industry is one of the most competitive job markets in the employment landscape - with some popular vacancies fought over by hundreds of candidates. Fashion internships represent a way for prospective employees to gain real-life experience, professional connections and a significant career advantage, before they begin applying for jobs. In fact, in today's climate, almost all industry professionals will have started out as interns before landing their first professional role.
Choosing your path
The fashion industry appeals to a spectrum of talents, including roles in journalism, retail, management and design. Internships are a chance to prove yourself to industry insiders and, at the same time, bolster your CV for future job applications. Fashion internship roles vary greatly but candidates should expect to have to work hard to distinguish themselves in what is a demanding and high pressure environment.
How to get an internship
There is no hard and fast way to make yourself an attractive internship prospect but there are plenty of strategies which may boost your chances of finding a rewarding position.
- Apply widely: large or small, known or unknown, it is worth approaching a large number of companies in your search for an internship. The competitive nature of the fashion industry means you should try to give yourself as many options as possible.
- Persevere: by definition, interns have little or no experience in the fields in which they are working - and may feel overwhelmed by the demands placed on them. With this in mind, you should be prepared to weather the storm - and work through an initial period of confusion.
- Ask questions: since you are in the role to learn, asking questions of the professionals around them is crucial. If colleagues are busy or unable to provide information, observing them at work is another valuable way to absorb their experience.
- Work to impress: prospective interns should be prepared to engage with tasks which do not reflect their skills or ambitions. While an internship is about gaining experience, candidates should also be looking to impress their employers and may have to complete menial or administrative tasks - or find themselves making the coffee on more than one occasion.
When to apply
Internships generally correspond with university and higher education breaks. Positions tend to be advertised throughout the year, with the most sought-after positions running throughout summer. Summer internships - especially of the paid variety - are very popular and candidates should think about applying as early as autumn. Unpaid internships, spring and winter internships are more accessible and, in a variety of cases, may even be filled on a first-come, first-served basis.
Internships have no minimum length but, again, broadly correspond to higher education breaks - a summer internships may last from 10 weeks to three months, but internships in the spring and winter may only last two to three weeks.
When you finish your internship, it is important to consolidate the experience you gained in your role. In the fashion industry, Drapers is a popular industry resource, providing news, features and valuable job listings for industry hopefuls. Checking the website regularly will help you familiarize yourself with available opportunities or, thinking ahead, help you tailor an internship search to the kind of experience which will make you an attractive employment prospect later on.
In fashion, building momentum for your career is crucial - internships not only help you develop as a professional, but also demonstrate your employability to people that matter.