So as you may already know, over the last academic year, I took time away from my university studies for work experience. This is something that is part of my degree and from completing the year I will gain a "Sandwich Degree" in Fashion and Textile Buying/Management. After months of searching and applying for various roles, I was lucky enough to grab a paid internship with The British Fashion Council. The year was incredible and I learnt so many life lessons as well as being part of some of fashion's biggest events including London Fashion Week itself. But not everything is plain sailing when starting any job, let alone in the crazy fashion world. There is always going to be something new to learn and more experience to gain. So here is my list of 10 lessons I learnt from being an intern in the fashion industry.
1. Writing down everything > Relying on technology
Getting myself a couple of notebooks on day one was the best thing I did. I had one that I kept as a "how to" on everything I had to do and the others were used as to-do lists. Everyday was different at for me, so some things you'd know to do automatically after a few weeks but some needed writing down to avoid any forgetful mishaps. Personally, having something written down in-front of me was much more efficient that relying on my computer's diary. It's much easier to highlight and scribble down new tasks on paper than it is to add another event to your diary. You can also see your progress all on one page - rather than having to scroll through your calendar every 5 minutes.
2. Not everyone in Fashion is fashionable 24/7
When I first got told I got the internship, I was like 'What am I going to wear?!?!!' But I promise you this, the fashion industry is too fast paced to look perfect everyday. Don't be afraid to go for the white tee and trainers during the week day. Makes getting dressed up at Fashion Week much more fun!
3. Show Listening
It sounds so obviously but this is one worthwhile thing I learnt - there is one thing listening, but it's another thing showing that you are listening and understanding what has been asked of you. A great tip I learnt was to try repeating back to the speaker what has just been said - this will not only help you to make sure that you understood the task or statement, but it also shows the speaker you are definitely paying attention.
Again, similar to the above, it sounds so obvious that if you are an interning somewhere, you clearly have an interest in the company. However, I found it was good to really express your interest in whats going on outside of your intern duties. What is everyone else up to in the team? What can you do to help them? Going above and beyond is something all companies are looking for.
5. Positivity is Key.
There are always going to be days you hate, people you don't get on with and things you aren't 100% happy with. But showing a positive, willing attitude to everything is really key when you're an intern. I know that when I started, I had gone from working full time before being a student as a concession manager for a shoe company and then working in a Bank, therefore, being an Intern, the lowest level there is, was a little bit of a shock to the system. But the sooner I got rid of my stubborn attitude and put everything I had into the tasks I was given, the more I became good at them and enjoyed every second.
6. Befriending fellow interns is Okay!
Where I worked, there were interns in almost all departments - some were graduates and some were students, like myself. Although everyone can agree that you need to be careful when becoming pally at work, making friends on my placement was definitely a huge bonus. Not only did I have people to share my lunch breaks with, but it was great to have someone who was in the same position as me when the stress levels got high. Because of this, i've made some really lovely friends for life that I couldn't have wished better.
7. If you don't ask, You don't get.
Although as an intern you are primarily there to do a job, it doesn't hurt to put yourself and your learning first sometimes. One of the best things I did was ask for meetings with other departments to help my understanding of the company as a whole to aid my future career thoughts. If I hadn't of requested this, I wouldn't have ever been in the position to find out the information I did. I definitely would advise thinking hard about what it is you want before you ask, but I definitely wouldn't be afraid to try.
8. Think before you are told.
This is something every manager I have ever had has said to me and I will agree, it is something that takes time. But once you know what your doing and you are able to think about a task you did in the past and when it will need doing again and how you can adapt it to the new season, the easier it gets. For me, learning to be able to do this with certain tasks, gave me a real sense of ownership of my role as an intern.
9. Treat everyone how you would expect to be treated.
During any job role you are going to meet people you don't particularly click with, however, one thing I learnt was to treat everyone with the respect that you would expect them to give you. Most likely, everyone above you has been an intern once - they know exactly how you feel, good and bad. Some people may treat you as they were treated when they were an intern, which might not always be particularly nice but it is a really important lesson to learn how small the fashion industry really is. You never know when you might work with them again. You don't know when you might need their help one day. Stay positive and smile through everything - It will get remembered.
10. Just do it.
This one is simple but I think it is the most important lesson that I learnt and for any future interns reading this - just get on with it. I know that it can be hard at times, it can get really stressful and you may even cry, but the best thing, with anything, is to raise your head high and just get on with it. Once you just crack on with the job and be grateful for every opportunity, the more you will enjoy every single second of the internship. My examples are from working two seasons of London Fashion Week, the first one, I hadn't got a clue what I was doing, I spent so much time worrying about it, that I didn't particularly enjoy myself - at London Fashion Week for Christ sake!! However, second time round, I just got on with it, anything I wasn't sure of, I found out, anything that came up, I sorted and in the end I had so much fun, got to see 4 amazing fashion shows and didn't stop smiling once. Work hard and you will certainly feel the rewards.
Although I feel like i learnt a lot in my year, I still have a long way to go on my career journey but If anyone can relate to anything I have written above from their internships or found this helpful for their future as an intern, i'd love to hear about it! Drop me a comment below or catch me on one of my social medias.