1. What do you currently study at university? Did this equip you for your current internship?
I’m studying Media & Communications but honestly, my degree hasn’t helped much at all. My previous internships in fashion PR were definitely more useful in terms of learning relevant skills and gaining experience. That being said, the degree has taught me the theoretical side of media, as well as other interesting subjects (like film and radio) that I wouldn’t have had the chance to learn about if I’d jumped straight into the workforce without a degree.
2. When you were looking for fashion internships, did you face any challenges and if so, how did you overcome them?
I recommend starting early – if you’re looking for fashion internships and you’re about to graduate (or have graduated), it’s much harder to show employers that you’re serious about the industry. Most of the skills you learn at fashion internship can be taught so the main thing employers want to know is that you’re keen and willing to learn! Availability is also very important to employers - I’ve lost countless fashion internships because I wasn’t available for five full days a week. Which is a bit absurd because it was physically impossible for me to be working full-time and studying full-time too. Obviously try to make the internship work with your schedule but don’t bend over backwards or let them take advantage of you!
Also, a genuine cover letter that shows your personality can help you stand out from the crowd, especially if the company represents fresh and fun clients - you’ll need to convey that tone.
3. How did you distinguish yourself from the hundreds of other applicants that also applied for this coveted internship?
In this particular case, I don’t think my cover letter helped distinguish myself. LVMH has more of a structured, corporate culture so my cover letter was quite formal. To this day, I don’t know why I was hired above all the other applicants and am slightly scared to ask because responses like “the other girl wasn’t unavailable”, or “we were desperate for help” spring to mind. But they did mention in my interview that they were impressed with my previous PR internships. I’d done PR internships for companies in street fashion, high-end fashion, art and music, as well as at fashion magazines, so although my experience wasn’t necessarily tailored specifically to fashion, I think that my range of work experiences was an asset and showed my diverse skills. Each person needs their niche, because if everyone had the same set of skills and interests, work would be a very homogenous (and boring) place to be!
4. You previously interned in a PR showroom, how different was this experience to your current internship in the luxury industry environment?
A PR agency is incredibly different to a luxury fashion company’s PR department.
A luxury fashion company is essentially a business that runs like any other corporate company, such as a bank or law firm. Most of them are also international conglomerates, which means that there’s an established structure and series of processes that all offices and employees need to follow around the world. It’s all very uniform. At a PR agency, it’s a lot more relaxed and there’s much more room for creative freedom (although it can get pretty hectic at times!).
5. What does a typical day as a Public Relations Intern look like?
The main tasks I’m responsible for include aiding my supervisor with our press rack samples and send-outs, research, compiling contact databases, compiling evaluation and competitor reports, media and competitor monitoring, and general administration.
In PR, there are always lots of events happening, and information being thrown around so I quickly learned the importance of beings very organised and writing absolutely everything down. Although my tasks aren’t necessarily difficult, when there is a looming deadline and a hundred different things to keep track of, it can get pretty overwhelming. Something I’ve learned from my internship is that working hard definitely isn’t the same as working efficiently. Working smart is the most important thing.
6. What advice do you have for following your dreams of working in the fashion industry?
Persistence. This is incredibly important in all areas of work, from finding a job, to working in that job. You might get rejected countless times from job interviews but an opportunity will come up as long as you keep trying.
If your boss wants a particular magazine that’s not available at five newsstands you’ve gone to across the city, go that extra distance to the sixth one and at all costs, get that magazine! If you don’t feel like going to work today because you’re tired and over it – pull yourself out of bed and get your butt to the office! This is the sort of dedication you need to have innately and you need to display. Nothing worth pursuing ever comes easy, so make sure you stick it out through the tough times, do your best, and you’ll stand out to your peers and your boss when you go over and beyond and exceed their expectations.
Also, as most of us don’t look like supermodels or have a ton of money to by the latest seasons look, we can’t all rely on our looks and clothes to make friends in high places and network with professionals. I recommend being memorable and interesting so that you stand out from the crowd of the ‘fashion girls/boys’ type. Reading widely, gaining a broad range of general knowledge across popular topics like politics, arts, culture, and world issues, and cultivating interests outside of fashion, will make you a more interesting person. This will allow you to connect with a range of different people (again, don’t be homogenous!).
7. Any interviewing tips you have The Fashion Careerist readers?
Before the interview, I always prepare answers to potential questions. Rehearse these a few times to sound natural and try and incorporate all the ‘good’ stories about yourself in your answers. Once you arrive at the interview, try to look calm and in control of the situation even if you’re freaked out and want to run out the door. You only have to pretend you’re confidence for the next 15-30 minutes and I guarantee you, you’ll be at a huge advantage already over all the applicants who let their nerves get the better of them. Ultimately, your employers just want to hire someone that is open to learning and that they can have a friendly chat with on their lunch breaks.
If you’re reading this and are still concerned about your interview skills, don’t worry too much! Practice makes perfect, and you can learn something from every interview that you go to. And hey, you never know. Sometimes with a bit of luck, everything will fall into place. I accidentally wore my shirt backwards to the interview for my current job and still landed the position. Phew! :)