Last spring, I was lucky enough to be offered a summer intern position at Marie Claire Magazine in London. Once I had been accepted for the internship, I was uncontrollably excited, but mostly nervous. I had so many questions: What I should expect? What to bring with me? What do I wear to a publication that dictates style?! As fashion magazine internships are few and far between thanks to Condé Nast closing its doors, I didn’t know anyone to turn to with similar past experience. So if you happen find yourself in my position, I’ve provided a guide on the essentials you’ll want to know before showing up at those hallowed doors.
What will I be doing?
Truth be told, most first time fashion magazine interns will be predominantly working in the closet. You’ll be organizing boxes of accessories, hanging and steaming clothing samples, sorting through mail and routinely conducting returns. ‘Returns’ are the paperwork and packaging that come with sending samples to and from PR companies that represent certain brands. Some publications will have you travel across the city and personally deliver these, but if you’re really lucky, sometimes there is an employed courier service in the building that you can give the packages to. It is vital that you fill out the dockets (returns paperwork) correctly and everything goes to the right address. If not, items can easily be lost…not a great situation when you’re dealing with five figure Celine coats and Louis Vuitton watches! During my time at Marie Claire, the editors were compiling the October issue so I was also asked to look through images of fashion shows to search for accessories that followed specific trends, and then create a mood board for each. This is an awesome way to show your creativity and feel like you’re contributing to the published product without overstepping your intern boundaries.
What do I wear?
Obviously you want to appear like you’re knowledgeable about current fashion trends. However, it’s more important that you look professional and feel comfortable. For example: sportswear and crop tops worn as daywear are currently stylish, but completely unacceptable for the workplace. You may be sitting on the floor organizing and sorting (so no super low waist trousers), or running errands (wear flats for long pavements and subway stairs.) Thankfully, there’s no need to go on a shopping spree for new clothing. I suggest looking to the women in the office for inspiration. The assistant editor (also my supervisor) wore investment staple pieces from her existing wardrobe paired with newer, less expensive, trendy accessories – she always looked fashion forward yet consistently professional.
Be independent, but if you are ever unsure about something, ask questions! It is much better to annoy someone for 10 seconds then monumentally screw up.
Make friends with the other interns. This will make your experience more enjoyable, build your network and provide a soundboard for important decisions.
Be 5 minutes early each day to finish any assignments left from the night before and organize for the day ahead.
Keep a notebook with you to jot down any vital information. For example, how to answer the phone, which brand pieces should be mailed to which PR company, and the names of the people you’re working for as well as where their desks are located so you can deliver mail without being awkward.
During lunchtime, eat outside of the office even if it’s for 10 minutes. This will provide you with a mental break and also prevents you from spilling on anything!
Most importantly: Be nice to everyone – whether it’s the Editor in Chief, or the courier guys. The industry is super small and a little kindness in a busy atmosphere can go a long way.
Good luck and have fun!
– Abby Donaldson