Ask Chris Benz: How Can I Move From Intern to Paid Employee?

Hi Chris, I, like most fashion-obsessed college seniors, read your posts on Fashionista RELIGIOUSLY. I truly admire all of the help you are giving to young people looking to break into the industry, especially because I am one of them. Luckily, I have been able to intern with great companies and get close to my bosses, where I gained tremendous experience working with editors and stylists. I am nearing the end of my college education (time is speeding by so fast I can't remember what season we're actually in!), and I am not sure when and how to begin looking for a full-time job. I scour the career websites, only to find offers either for internships or upper-level management. What suggestions do you have for young people about to enter a tough job market and an even tougher fashion industry? Thank you! Best, Mark Baldino
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Hi Chris, I, like most fashion-obsessed college seniors, read your posts on Fashionista RELIGIOUSLY. I truly admire all of the help you are giving to young people looking to break into the industry, especially because I am one of them. Luckily, I have been able to intern with great companies and get close to my bosses, where I gained tremendous experience working with editors and stylists. I am nearing the end of my college education (time is speeding by so fast I can't remember what season we're actually in!), and I am not sure when and how to begin looking for a full-time job. I scour the career websites, only to find offers either for internships or upper-level management. What suggestions do you have for young people about to enter a tough job market and an even tougher fashion industry? Thank you! Best, Mark Baldino
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Hi Chris,

I, like most fashion-obsessed college seniors, read your posts on Fashionista RELIGIOUSLY. I truly admire all of the help you are giving to young people looking to break into the industry, especially because I am one of them.

Luckily, I have been able to intern with great companies and get close to my bosses, where I gained tremendous experience working with editors and stylists. I am nearing the end of my college education (time is speeding by so fast I can't remember what season we're actually in!), and I am not sure when and how to begin looking for a full-time job. I scour the career websites, only to find offers either for internships or upper-level management.

What suggestions do you have for young people about to enter a tough job market and an even tougher fashion industry?

Thank you!

Best, Mark Baldino

Dear Mark,

Fashion is, if nothing else, a close-knit community. Your experience as an intern has definitely set you off on the right course--as I’m sure you know, I am a huge proponent of internships in as many areas of the industry as possible. Don’t be afraid to ask for help in finding a job, as people are more than willing to help when asked. There are always entry-level positions available somewhere as people like you move up.

The best tactic is to ask for help from those you have been helping as an intern. Send your resumés out to companies with which you identify creatively, and always send a earnest handwritten note attached. I love a handwritten note, and so does everyone else (disclaimer: if you have the penmanship of a serial killer, maybe have an architect-friend write your notes on your behalf!).

As far as your first actual position, keep an open mind for anything. Many respected editors and stylists started out as assistants for other upper-level editors only a few years ago! Likewise, photo- and stylist-assistants have become editors, stylists, and vice-versa. It’s cross-pollinating industry so don’t be afraid of taking opportunities and redirecting your path along the way. A personal assistant position for an editor-in-chief can often equal the fast-track to publicist and editor positions in the future.

At the 2010 Glamour Women of the Year Awards, Cher was talking about her career, and how she equates herself to a bumper-car. She goes in one direction, hits a roadblock, backs up a little and goes in a new direction, always moving in the same direction but making little adjustments along the way.

I love this analogy, and how the underlying message is to take chances and keep moving. I think it’s very much the same in fashion, just keep pushing forward and doing what you love. If this can work for Cher, it can work for anyone!

xx CB

Got a question for Chris? Email him on askchrisbenz@fashionista.com.