Fashion Internships: My Experience, Tips, and Resume Tricks

Internship Collage

Where do I start? What should I put on my resume? I have no experience but want to change career paths, is this possible? What skills do I need?

These questions and more flood my DMs and texts on an almost daily basis, because let’s be real, a lot of people are interested in working in the fashion industry and there’s not one clear path on how to get started.

To get information and hear me talk about it, feel free to check out my latest YouTube video here:

Otherwise, I’ll do a quick recap of the video below!

MY BACKGROUND

I have five years of experience in the industry ranging from working in retail to experience in multiple European luxury showrooms. I have worked on product development, social media advertising, and creative teams. Additionally, I have been to multiple NYC Market weeks working in selling and buying. Currently I run my own blog and business and take on freelance jobs in the industry.

Some pictures from my internships and jobs over the years.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PAID AND UNPAID INTERNSHIPS (and some negotiating tactics)

Besides the obvious aspect of the payment vs no payment lets talk the nuances of unpaid and paid internships.

Unpaid internships tend to be unethical because they gate keep the fashion community so only wealthy and connected people can get jobs. If you are providing a service you deserve to be compensated.

The only time I ever took an unpaid position is when I was 17 and had a minimal resume. Many big companies (such as big corporate positions or Nylon Magazine) offer unpaid internships because they expect you to be “blinded” by the name. I am here to tell you that you will get the same experience at a large big named company that you will get at a smaller lesser known company. Most starter fashion interns do the same tasks regardless of the company. Once you have experience you can apply for paid positions at bigger named companies and if you are good at your job you will get offers.

When should you take an unpaid internship? If you have no experience AT ALL, and can’t leverage your life skills (a somewhat unlikely scenario unless you are in high school still). Another time is if you are taking an internship class at your school or college where you will be getting school credit for the position. Finally, if in your personal opinion you NEED a specific brand name on your resume you may need to take an unpaid position.

Some negotiating tactics if the company is not willing to pay you but you want to work there still are to discuss being compensated for your commute or to have a lunch or expense budget. While this isn’t the same as payment or credit, it will prevent you from spending money to work. A final negotiation skillset is to ask if there is room for growth in the position or if they hire from their intern pool. If you know that you could secure a paid job after a few months of interning that is something good to consider.

A paid internship is basically a starter level job. Many paid internships result in being hired or offered a position because they have invested time and money into you.

HOW TO GET EXPERIENCE

Getting your foot in the door and getting the first internship or job is always the hardest.

In the fashion industry, an excellent starter position is to work a retail position at either a local boutique or a big box retail store. This will teach you front end of the fashion industry and is a good way to show interest in the industry on your resume.

If retail isn’t an option, trying to build experience through freelancing by offering to help local businesses build social media (such as Facebook or Instagram) is a great way to get something on your resume.

Due to COVID changing the landscape of how businesses operate, many businesses are having employees work from home. This means that you have the ability to apply for jobs in fashion capitols such as NYC and LA regardless of where you live.

Finally, taking pre college classes, extra classes online through resources such as SkillShare, or specialization courses are great to build skillsets on your resume to bring value to yourself so a company sees you as an asset.

KEY POINTS FOR YOUR RESUME

These are skillsets you should emphasize on your resume. It’s a good idea to have a section on your resume (off to the side) where you bullet point your key skillsets for someone to read. LinkedIn also has a section for you to write your skillsets. You should be

  • Punctual
  • Social Media Proficiency or Digital Marketing Expertise (familiar with marketing through Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, etc)
  • Basic Web Design (WordPress, Shopify, Wix, Squarespace back end, and simple code)
  • Copy Writing
  • Steaming
  • Organizational Skills
  • Skilled at Administrative Tasks (filing, answering phones, emails, organizing, etc)
  • Knowledge of Whole Sale Calendar

Did you find this helpful? What is your dream job?

xoxo,

AJ

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