charge of responding to the editors’ fashion week invites, and had the opportunity to go to events they couldn’t attend. “I never imagined within a year of moving to New York I’d be sitting front row at fashion week next to famous editors and bloggers that I admire. I even had my picture taken by Bill Cunningham at the Hervé Léger show. It was a real taste of what I could have if I continued to push myself through school and future internships.” Kaleigh wasn’t offered a job since she is still in school, but was offered a continued internship through the Summer and Fall. She was also asked to keep on as a freelance style writer. The internship process may sound dreadful, and surviving on a nonexistent salary isn’t easy, but when your resume can mirror those of professionals three or four years into the work force, it comes down to how bad you want it. Fashion start-ups provide great experience for interns yearning to explore a company on a more personal level. Hannah Kimmerle, also from FIT, completed a womenswear design internship with Mandy Coon in NYC. She saw the perks in interning for a smaller label: “It’s great when I interview at other companies and they personally know who I interned for,” says Hannah, who was also used as the fit model for Mandy. “I guess that makes up for having to run back and forth from downtown to the Garment District all day during snow storms,” she kids. Leading “next-generation” fashion retailers, such as Gilt Groupe, Rent The Runway and FashionStake, are also headquartered in NYC, adding to the City’s innovative fashion start-up scene. POST INTERNSHIP PAYING JOBS Obtaining a job after completing an internship is difficult, but not impossible. Jennifer Ugland, from the University Of South Carolina, was offered a paid position after completing her merchandising and styling internship at the high-end women’s clothing boutique, The Pink Hanger. Currently she assists in managing, buying, merchandising, styling, public relations and visual: “The contacts I have made here have helped and guided me on my career path,” Jennifer prides. Kenna Wynne-Jones, of the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (FIDM; Los Angeles Campus), turned her internship into a role as Public Relations Coordinator at bebe. Kenna has the Career Center at FIDM to thank for her internship opportunity; she mentions that meetings with her advisor were very helpful in following up with job leads, resume editing and internship/
career advice. “Use the resources FIDM gives you, ” says Kenna. “Talk to your teachers—they are industry professionals and probably are doing what you’d like to do with your own career.” If you enjoy building relationships with industry professionals, public relations may be just the field. At bebe, Kenna’s typical workday consists of emailing fashion editors of magazines such as Vogue, Cosmo, InStyle and Harper’s Bazaar, and sending them new samples for whatever shoot they are working on. Kenna also works with stylists who come into the studio and pulls bebe clothes for their clients, aiming to get bebe merchandise in as much press as she can. Something to keep in mind when searching for an internship is that non-profit companies often do not offer paid positions aside from the director. This was the case for Anne Hastings of Colorado State University, who interned with TACtile Textile Arts. Although her work was unpaid, she says she gained valuable experience designing class brochures and gallery set displays. FASHION HAS NO BOUNDARIES Have your heart set on interning for a specific position but there are currently no openings available? Try looking a little further. Many luxury brands originated in Europe, and therefore have their headquarters overseas. Laura Bross, a former student at Stephens College, decided to go abroad to complete her internal public relations internship with Burberry London. Laura was not offered a job upon graduation, but used her references to land a job in the Burberry Americas offices in NYC. Christine Lam, a fashion design major who studied in Boston and the Paris Academy, wanted to reach beyond the comforts of home. While most girls flock to NYC, Christine interned for Georgia Hardinge in London. “Being abroad helped me see things differently— and definitely changed the way I design. The fashion industry is embraced and more appreciated in Europe, a notion that isn’t valued enough here,” she says. After spending a decent amount of time in both Paris and London, Christine is convinced that there is a big gap between where the European and U.S. fashion industries stand. “The U.S. sense of style is fairly conservative. We play it safe. We tend to design things preferred by the masses and hence, we embrace mass production.” Aside from the unexpected gain of a new perspective, Christine didn’t leave empty handed. With an aim to work abroad, she has made an effort
to keep good relationships with both peer and professional groups, and believes that developing a network will no doubt pay off. WHY YOU NEED TO DO A FASHION INTERNSHIP WHILE IN SCHOOL—EVEN IF IT’S NOT REQUIRED FOR A DEGREE Some majors don’t require an internship in order to graduate. While Lasell College in Boston requires Fashion Merchandising students to do an internship, Fashion Design majors have the freedom to focus instead on their senior collections. Students argue that there’s always the option of fulfilling a full-time internship post graduation— but, others would argue, not so fast. As you’re surfing the web for internships, you will come across a list of requirements. While they all vary depending on the different skills required and area of the fashion industry, there is usually one that remains constant. You may be left asking, “What’s up with the requirement to be a full-time student?” Sure, it makes sense to limit the number of applicants to those holding a higher education and maturity level, but what about recent grads? Has the opportunity to participate in an internship suddenly vanished with the completion of a degree? To answer this question fully, I turned to the language of the law. According to the Department of Labor’s Division of Labor Standards Enforcement, there are six different rules an employer must satisfy in order to legally hire an unpaid intern. The first of these states: The internship, even though it includes actual operation of the employer’s facilities, is similar to that which would be given in a vocational school. In other words, when the intern receives school credit that is applicable towards his or her degree and is acknowledged by the educational institution, the internship adequately substitutes for classroom instruction. Without this substitution the employer risks obligation to pay the intern, at the least, minimum wage. Over the last five years, the ratio of paid to unpaid internships has decreased dramatically. It makes sense – the economy takes a plunge, and free labor becomes more appealing to industry leaders. The majority of paid internships just aren’t around anymore, at least not in the fashion industry. Every year, thousands of obsessed fashionistas compete to have high-end designers and brands on their resume. We’re living in a world where a single contact, the brief chance to network, has become compensation of its own. 37
FALL INTO FASHION It's the September issue! Featuring Semi Precious Weapons and the death of rock'n'roll, the war within our "united" nation...