Don’t wait until you graduate to get an internship. Even if you’re carrying a full course load, even if you’re not sure what you want to do with the rest of your life, even if you can feel the stress welling up inside of you like a tidal wave every time someone mentions midterms — don’t tell yourself you don’t have time for an internship. Offering your services to companies you want to work with is now as easy as posting a tweet, and you can often set your own hours or help out with events and projects as your schedule allows.
The bottom line is, in a highly competitive job market, you need real-world experience, and in the fashion industry, networking is everything. So here are some tips on how to network your way into an internship worth your while.
Make Sure It’s the Right Fit
Don’t just take an internship because it fits into your schedule. Or because your friend’s sister’s boyfriend heard you were looking for an internship and got you an interview. Do your research.
Make a list of the top 20 companies you want to work for and know just about everything there is to know about them, from their origins and history to their current state of affairs. What nonprofits do they support? What social media outlets do they favor? The first step of getting an internship that will truly help propel you into a great position in the fashion industry is to pick who you want to work for, not just taking the internship with the most clout or the best schedule.
Maximize your time and efforts by being picky. You’ve got the rest of your life to make decisions based on paying rent, an internship is about working for a company you are truly invested in, from their business practices to their aesthetic brand message.
Don’t Wait for an Invite
You never know which companies are looking for an intern unless you ask. Most huge brands advertise their need for an intern; check with your counselor, on LinkedIn, or even on their Twitter and Instagram accounts. Smaller brands also advertise a need for interns, but honestly is there ever a business not in the market for some free labor? If you’re passionate about a brand, reach out and offer your services, even if you can only offer a few hours a week of your time.
Be prepared to do gopher work for a while. It certainly won’t be glamorous, it probably won’t be what you want to do for the rest of your life, but it will get you some major moxie points with whoever is watching.
You might have to do some digging, you might have to send out multiple emails to random people you’ve never met, but the more research you do ahead of time and the more honest you are about your passion for the company, the more likely you are to get someone’s attention. Persistence and positivity are the name of this game, so even if you get rejected, you’ll leave a lasting impression.
Look the Part
Once you’ve got an interview with one of your dream companies, you’ve got to show up looking the part. Just because you’re surviving off of six shots of espresso daily and haven’t been shopping in months doesn’t mean you have to show up to the interview looking like a broke college student.
For your outfit, go with the always safe black uniform but be sure to accessorize to show your personality like with a handbag in a bold hue or funky heels (just make sure you can walk in them with confidence.) A slick, sleek topknot is easy to pull off with some hairspray and a hair tie.