Ah, the elusive fashion internship. There’s never been a position with quite so many myths surrounding it.
A lot of these rumours stem from well-meaning family members who don’t ‘get fashion’, or pop culture references like The Devil Wears Prada. Don’t get me wrong, I love that movie, but it’s tarnished the reputation of working in fashion forever. My sincere condolences if your mum has seen it. Mums forgive, but they don’t forget.
An internship can actually be a huge learning curve, and if used to your advantage, can be one of the most effective ways to land yourself your dream job.
If you’ve never completed an internship, welcome, this is a safe place. If you’re one of the family members helping give rise to some of these rumours, shame on you.
I’m here to help educate the masses and debunk some of the myths associated with the fashion internship, because more people than my parents deserve to know the truth.
Myth one: You’ll spend all day fetching coffees and fighting other interns to the death
Alright, fighting other interns may be a slight exaggeration, but the coffee part is easily the biggest myth of any internship. While bringing your coworkers snacks like doughnuts and coffee is a sure-fire way to get in the good books, you’ll rarely get asked to retrieve someone else’s coffee just for the sake of it. In fact, I never did. Despite what you think, employers value your time and will appreciate you coming in on your day off to help them out. And if you are asked to grab a coffee one time, it’s really not the end of the world.
Myth two: Miranda Priestly is a real person, and she’s your boss
While we all know Miranda Priestly was loosely based on Anna Wintour, it doesn’t mean every boss working in fashion has to follow suit. Despite what the movie may have you think, people in fashion are real-life, kind people, and don’t feel the need to throw anything at you or breathe fire every time you make a mistake.
Myth three: You’ll get taken advantage of
I’ll let you down gently with this one, but bad internships do exist. Not just in fashion, but across all industries. The reason being because bad people exist. It just takes a bit of common sense to work out how legit your position is. If you answer yes to any of the following, it’s probably time to hightail it to the Fair Work Commission. Red flag one: are they asking you to work full-time with no pay? Red flag two: would the business come crashing down without you being there? Red flag three: are you not learning?
Usually, the best time to end an internship is when you feel like you’ve learnt everything you can. It should be benefiting you as much as the business.
Myth four: An internship will always lead to a job, and you’re a failure if it doesn’t
Unfortunately, internships don’t guarantee jobs. What a world we’d live in if every budding intern was offered a position, and we could all bake a cake with rainbows and smiles and everyone would be happy. Instead, you should consider yourself super lucky if you land a job after your internship. Job opportunities surprisingly don’t grow on trees (I know, huge shock).
Myth five: The best internships are at big, well-known companies
Actually, the opposite can be true. Working at a smaller company means a smaller team, and a smaller team means there’s more opportunity for you to impress and get all the cool jobs. Don’t feel down if you don’t land your very first internship at Vogue or Harper’s Bazaar, aim smaller and maybe you’ll be the one conducting the interviews, rather than transcribing them.
Myth six: It’s not a real job
While you may not be getting paid, it’s imperative you treat an internship as a real job. If you show up late, spend all day on your phone and come to work smelling of dumplings, you’ll get noticed, for the wrong reasons. Internships are when you should be impressing potential employers the most, and slacking off is just a total waste of your time.
Myth seven: You should leave as soon as your agreed contract is up
Don’t get me wrong, if you’ve learnt all you can and the internship is no longer serving you, get outta there. But if you’re still learning, get offered awesome interviews and get to go to cool events, what’s the harm in staying longer than the agreed upon three months? I interned for two years before I got a job, and you’ll find most people have similar experiences.
If you're feeling informed enough to take on the fashion industry, we’ve got some of the best internships and jobs listed right here.