‘So we’ll see you for three weeks in the summer, look forward to meeting you then,’ were the closing words of the telephone call in which I secured an internship at a fashion agency in Central London. For a year I had emailed, cold called and had even taken advantage of connections, nevertheless I still got nowhere. This was my chance; my ‘foot in the door.’
The fashion industry, no thanks to films and TV shows such as The Devil Wears Prada and Ugly Betty, has been portrayed as a beautiful, brutal world, which exist on a different level to everyday life. With that in mind, excitement was the last thing on my mind – should I starve myself for a few weeks in the hope of ‘fitting in’? I surely would need a new wardrobe – a trip to Oxford Street? And do not even start me on the deliberations over the first day outfit.
I had applied for the placement as I wanted to learn some more about PR in the industry, and was assured that I’d get to help out in that area. I was aware that I’d become handy with carrying multiple cups of tea and have to run numerous errands till my feet were numb, but in return for that, invaluable knowledge to set me aside from the rest; surely it was worth it?
I arrived on the first day and was shown round a small messy office, littered with used mugs and scrap paper, then led to the ‘showroom’ where all the brands are displayed, like a huge boutique. I was left alone for two hours to ‘tidy up’ and ‘get to know the brands’. I was so keen, this did not bother me in the slightest, I knew I had to face each and every task with a smile. I spent the remaining few weeks doing mundane tasks such as, making tea, washing up, taking ten trips a day to buy diet coke and steaming clothes; I was on my feet all day. I spent 10-5 in the showroom whilst buyers scoured the rails, messing up my perfectly aligned coat hangers, passing me with a forced smile. In return however, I got to sit in on meetings with buyers from Harvey Nichols, Selfridges and Harrods and try my hand at visual merchandising. Nevertheless, I didn’t get to do any PR.
It’s true what they say; you are firmly at the bottom of the ladder as an intern. But am I bitter? Not in the slightest. Those mundane jobs were my ticket to inside information, experience and a good reference. Everyone has to start somewhere, so if you are looking for an internship, face the dull tasks with smiles and enthusiasm. They owe you nothing; it is just luck if they need a job doing in your area of preference. Still, it was a great experience, and hopefully now I can move on to doing more exciting things in a fashion internship. After all, everyone has to start somewhere.
Olivia De Courcy