Tell me a little bit about yourself and your experience.
ML: I’m currently a student at the Fashion Institute of Technology, majoring in Fashion Merchandising Management with a minor in Economics. I moved to New York three years ago, and I started interning during my second semester at FIT. This Spring, I’ll be starting my twelfth internship at Tom Ford.
Where have you interned to date?
ML: Everywhere! [laughs] But really, I’ve interned for a lot of different companies since moving to New York. I recently completed my Fall internship at PR Consulting, where I was on the Versace and Christopher Kane account. Prior that, I’ve interned at Proenza Schouler, Burberry, Jimmy Choo, Alexander Wang, Nanette Lepore, Nicole Miller, and ELLE magazine, among others.
Why do you intern so much?
ML: Well, a lot of people in my family have either gone to FIT or have worked in the fashion industry at one point or another, and they’ve all stressed the importance of interning and making connections while I’m still in school. I first started interning during the second semester of my freshman year at FIT, and all of the other people I was interning with were either seniors or had already graduated from college. Most of them didn’t have a job lined up, and that was a really scary thing to see. I wanted to set myself up to make sure that that wouldn’t happen to me, so after I finished my first internship six months later, I started looking for my next opportunity. From there, I just kept going. People always ask me why I intern every single semester instead of taking a break, but in my mind, since I already live in New York City, one of the major fashion capitals of the world, it doesn’t really make sense to not take full advantage of my location and all of the opportunities in front of me.
As a freshman, how did you get yourself out there? Like you said, you were competing with seniors and post-grads.
ML: It’s actually really funny. At that point, I had almost no experience. I had moved to New York six months prior and had only worked a few shows at fashion week the season before. I was working as a Barista at Starbucks at the time, and I had next to nothing on my resume. I decided that I wanted to intern over winter break, mainly because I had absolutely nothing to do and I didn’t want to just sit alone in my apartment for a month and a half. I went into the Career and Internship Center at FIT, and they refused to help me. They told me that I couldn’t intern until the following year, but not to worry, because “you only need one or two internships to get a job anyway.” (I later realized that this is completely untrue and outdated advice). So, I took it into my own hands to find an internship. I probably applied to 15 or 20 companies, and I didn’t hear back from any of them. Finally, I was called in for a group interview for an editorial internship at JoonBug.com. I was so nervous going into the interview because everyone else in the group had already graduated or was a journalism major. When it was my turn to speak, I spoke about my passion for the industry, why I loved the website, and why I wanted to intern for the company, and I ended up getting it over everyone else. Come to think of it, I actually found out about the internship from a posting on Craigslist, of all places. [laughs]
Really? I would never think to look on Craigslist!
ML: Yeah, some of the postings did seem a bit sketchy [laughs], but there actually are a lot of good opportunities that are advertised under the “Jobs” section.
It’s all about hustling.
ML: Exactly! I emailed them and I heard back a few days later. It wasn’t even my major! I saw the listing and applied for it because, quite simply, I love writing, which is exactly what I told them. And it worked out really well.
What would you say is the most valuable thing you’ve learned through all of your experience?
ML: I think the most valuable thing I’ve learned is the importance of finding opportunities that you’re really passionate about, and also to stay really, really focused on everything that you’re doing. If you’re not fully committed to your work, it becomes really difficult to shine in the eyes of your supervisor, which is really the whole point of interning in the first place – to make connections within the industry that you hope to have a career in. Also, I know I mentioned the importance of networking a few times, but its important to remember to build connections not only with your direct supervisor, but also with the other employees in the company and your fellow interns. You never know who will help you down the road. Also, I’ve met some of my best friends at past internships.
What’s been your favorite internship and why?
ML: My favorite internship was definitely when I interned at ELLE during my sophomore year. I just loved being at the magazine! I love writing; I’m always reading; and I probably subscribe to 25 different magazines already. ELLE was always my favorite. I interned there for six months in total, and while it was a lot of hard work (think 10-12 hour days, three days a week), it was an amazing experience, and I learned so much while I was there. It’s one of the most influential magazines in the world, and I think by interning at ELLE and working in the fashion and accessories closets and with the market director, I was able to develop an appreciation for the quality and attention to detail in luxury garments. There is definitely a difference between Zara and Zac Posen [laughs]. It also gave me a deeper appreciation for some of the more obscure designers that I wouldn’t have otherwise known about, like Haider Ackermann, Dries van Noten, and Ann Demeulemeester, who are now three of my favorite designers.
Have you had a mentor or someone who has inspired you?
ML: One person who has always really inspired me is Kelly Cutrone. She’s kind of awesome. Even before I decided that I wanted to go into public relations, I was so inspired by her because she is so focused, so dedicated, her career is her top priority in her life, and she only wears black. And now I only wear black. [laughs]
Do you have any advice for writing a cover letter?
ML: Well, there’s the obvious: education, experience, and an interest in the company. Also, try not to sound like a college student as you’re writing it. Its always a good idea to look at samples of cover letters online, or even to have a professor or someone in the internship office at your school take a look at it. It may seem like a lot of work, but you want to make sure you put the best version of yourself forward.
What about for resumes, since it is very important part of your application and is always up for debate by means of presentation?
ML: I think it really depends. As an intern, I usually get the task of looking through my boss’ email and weeding through the internship applications. Its important to make sure everything is clean, open, and easy to read. Also, make sure to avoid using weird fonts or colors, and definitely don’t include picture of yourself.
You’ve had a lot of experience with 12 internships, so how do you feel about the “your resume has to fit on one page” rule?
ML: I definitely adhere to that. A lot of people have told me that it can be more than one page, especially since I’ve done so much and everything is pretty recent, but I think that would be completely ridiculous because professionals who have worked in fashion for 30 years are able to keep it to one page. I’m in college, so what right do I have to have a resume that’s three pages long? [laughs] I try to include the most recent things that I’ve done, because they’re often the most relevant. Also, I don’t believe that adding an “objective” section is crucial, because the person reading your resume and cover letter already knows what your objective is – to get an internship at their company! Overall, I make sure that my resume represents the absolute best of what I’ve done.
Do you have any good stories?
ML: Last week, when I was dropping something off at Vogue, Grace Coddington walked right by me!
Oh, my God! Did you say anything?
ML: She looked right at me, because I probably had my mouth hanging open [laughs]. Somehow, I managed to say “hi”, and to tell her how much I admired her work.
Did she say anything back?
ML: She smiled, and said “thank you.” I can’t remember the last time I was that starstruck!
Have you met anyone else that’s amazing?
ML: This isn’t really an interning story, but last summer, when I was interning at Alexander Wang, me and another intern really hit it off and we went to go get drinks after we finished for the day. He was on Twitter and saw that Karl Lagerfeld was having his party for Little Black Book that night in Soho, and we were already in the Tribeca area. So, we just walked by to see if we could spot anyone famous. Joan Smalls was out front, and my friend took a picture with her. The women taking care of the guest list thought we were waiting to get into the event, so we gave our names (which obviously weren’t on the list), and by some miracle they actually let us in! Penn Badgley, Dakota Fanning, Carine Roitfeld and, of course, Karl Lagerfeld were all there. I got to meet him and I told him that he’s amazing. He was wearing white gloves and dark sunglasses, even though it was 9 pm and we were indoors. He really keeps true to his image which is wonderful.
ML: Intern as often and as early as possible. One [internship] is not enough; two is not enough. No matter what your school tells you; aim for three, four, five, or even ten. You’ll be so thankful you did!
What exactly is LinkedIn? It is the Facebook of the professional world. Your profile is your resume; your connections are your friends; your skills are your likes. The difference? While Facebook can boost your ego by getting over 100 likes on your new pro pic from your “friends” (kudos, by the way), LinkedIn can land you a job.
I created my LinkedIn account out a sheer boredom during my U.S. history class (not recommended) with no knowledge of its benefits. I’d simply heard of it and needed anything to occupy the hour and a half I was paying to sit in an incredibly entertaining wheely chair.
The social platform supercharged the simple joy of adding a new “job” to my Facebook profile. I could add my new job, my old job, get recommended by my old bosses, list my articles, be endorsed for my skills, and more. It is a super intern’s dream.
The ability to connect with anyone and everyone, contingent on their acceptance, is electrifying. Not only can you connect with professionals, but you can message them. I know! The days of being at a loss for an email address are over! Just don’t message Anna Wintour fan mail…
On the other end, LinkedIn is a way to get recruited for internships. That’s right – recruited. Just like professionals are accessible to you, you are accessible to employers. LinkedIn gives them the ability to not only “hear of you,” but contact you. It’s a win, win.
If they don’t find you, don’t sweat; it’s rare. It’s all about the ability to get your professional awesomeness out on the World Wide Web. But, you can see who viewed your profile. Take that, Facebook!
Besides all the fun and games, LinkedIn is a phenomenal professional tool that is essential for every intern striving to hustle their way into the forefront of their desired industry. If you don’t already have one, make one. Today.
xo – S
Join T-Pain and get out of bed at 5 o’clock in the morning. Not just because your dream got boring, but because rising with the sun and the chime of cock-a-doodle-doo will transform your work ethic.
How does T-Pain make a valid point? Picture this: you wake up at 6; shower and get dressed by 7; do a little studying with a steaming cup of jo by your side until 8; get to work by 8:30 (instead of 9) and BAM – you’re intern of the year.
You may wonder how arriving half an hour early can make you a shining star. Being comfortably positioned in front the office Mac, half-way done with your morning tasks before your boss arrives definitely gets noticed by not only your boss, but by everyone else in the office. Don’t be fooled; they’re watching. Being the first familiar face at the door every morning establishes a positive recognition that could carryover into a relationship.
While arriving before your fellow interns snags you the laptop with the best Internet and the wheely chair, it also opens up the opportunity for you to become your boss’ go-to intern. At first, you’ll be his or her first choice by physical default. One body; one option. But as time progresses, he or she will fall into the habit of trusting you with prized duties. Missing a half hour of sleep is worth becoming the favorite.
This simple act of arriving early exudes that you are a responsible, overachieving individual who is eager to soak up every inch of knowledge. You’ll love it.
Warning: getting to work too early may result in long waits on the stairwell. Bring breakfast.
xo – S