Every year teens from across the globe flock to Teen Vogue‘s annual Fashion University in hopes of rubbing elbows with fashion’s elite and networking to score that dream internship. The three-day event features seminars and parties for the aspiring teen magazine editors, models, photographers and designers. This year I was lucky enough to attend. I sat in on seminars lead by Michael Kors, Alexander Wang, Linda Fargo and Teen Vogue editors.
Here’s what I learned:
1. A little flirting never hurt anyone
Bergdorf Goodman’s Linda Fargo told us that when she was working at Macy’s she would use her looks to get the men to do things she wanted. “I had to flirt with these unionized guys and I had to pretend like I didn’t know how to do it,” said Linda.
2. Always be professional
Getting a job was obviously a main topic of discussion. After all of my seminars I had heard multiple times that staying professional will get you noticed over any of the glitter-cover resumes Fargo has received.
Danielle Nussbaum, Teen Vogue‘s Entertainment Director, told me “nothing cutesy” should go in the subject line of an email. “It’s easiest when people put ‘Interested in Internship Application’ and always call us by our first names. No Mrs. or Mr.” she said.
Panelists also stressed the importance of never adding anyone you don’t know on Facebook or contacting a person with the “follow back” message in mind. Everyone who spoke said it was annoying, and that they likely wouldn’t respond.
3. Having unconventional hair will get you noticed
At every chance for a question there were at least 10 girls in the audience with their hands stiffly raised while staring down the speaker. The girls who consistently got picked had a more noticeable hair style. During the Michael Kors Q&A session he picked a girl and said “You, because I love your hair.” At Alexander Wang’s session he pointed to a girl with her hand raised and says “You, with the hair,” while making a gesture at her top knot. And finally, Teen Vogue EIC Amy Astley told the crowd that her favorite intern she could remember had blue hair.
4. Dressing for success is no joke
Every speaker brought up that the girls with the best style are the ones they try to keep around. “Fashion is about style, so look fabulous once you get your foot in the door! I once had this girl with crazy funky hats, and I loved her.” Kors said. “We ended up hiring her.”
5. Network, network, network!
A few of the Teen Vogue editors mentioned how they met their interns at Teen Vogue Fashion U. During the weekend, there was networking potential located around every corner, and all of the people I talked to were more than happy to give a card to an aspirational teenager.
6. Hand written letters mean a lot
On the editorial tour of Teen Vogue, I noticed there were hand-written letters posted around everyone’s desk. Amy Astley told me she loves hand-written letters and they do stand out because it looks like time was really spent on them.
7. People love attention, not obsession
When talking to fashion assistant, Ade Samuel, about if anyone has done anything crazy to get a
job a Teen Vogue, she mentioned an incident that happened to Mary Kate Steinmiller. “Someone called Mary Kate and said, ‘Hey, Mary Kate, we are downstairs and we were wondering if you could come talk about the internship program.’ It was creepy,” she said.
8. Personal style blogs without a creative eye are becoming stale
Astley mentioned during the editor Q&A that personal style blogs are starting to fit a mold, and it’s becoming less exciting. During a session with Rich Tong, the fashion director at Tumblr, he said, “Usually, we look for the most creative and inspiring. Just because you have the most followers doesn’t mean you are the best.” He also mentioned that creativity is how they choose their bloggers for fashion week, a process that is always very hotly debated.
9. There will always be competition, even at an event like this
During each session there was a constant race to be the first and the best. Walking into the Hudson theatre was a mad dash to see who could get the best seats in the front and in the line of vision of the editors. My feet were trampled by many heels scrambling to get seats. (But I still made many friends and this attitude did not apply to everyone.)
10. Taking calculated risks could be the beginning of your career
I knew I had to find some way to stand out from the 500 other ambitious teenagers at Fashion U, so I went for a bolder route. I wrote a rap for the Teen Vogue editors and during the Q&A, I got the microphone and performed it.
I was extremely nervous, but I knew this risk would pay off eventually. They loved it, and I got to spend some time with the people I have looked up to my entire life. It helped me stand out and helped me separate myself from a whole room full of determined teenagers.
Lesson learned? Be creative not creepy, bold yet professional, and people will notice.