YES, INTERNSHIPS SOMETIMES SUCK…
The biggest complaint that students had are the long hours they’re expected to work, usually for free. “You’re expected to do a lot and you’re expected to be grateful for the opportunity and you always are, but to a point that’s sometimes unreasonable,” Kate Gross, a graduating Pratt student who’s done four internships told us. “I’ve stayed at internships 13-16 hour days.” For fashion design students, the last two years are particularly grueling so trying to fit it all in can be a challenge.
Rosa Ng, a FIT senior who started the site Quality Control, where fashion students can anonymously go to rate their fashion internships, said she’s definitely felt taken advantage of by companies, doing the work of a paid employee—like doing patterns and draping. She said that a company’s expectations are sometimes different from students’. “They tell you 9-6 but then they tell you sometimes you have to stay longer,” Ng said. “When you tell them you have to leave, they give you a LOOK that you totally understand. And [then you think], ‘Oh I’ve got to stay.’”
Amy Layton, a Parsons senior said, “[I’ve had] all-nighters during fashion week where I was working my butt off for free. Then you get up and do it all over again.” Mary Beth Bachand from Parsons noted that in addition to the long hours, there are definitely some small indignities inherent in the internship experience, like “getting yelled at.”
…BUT SUCK IT UP AND YOU’LL LEARN SOMETHING
Lest you think these students were whining, every single one we talked to said their internship experiences were overwhelmingly positive. Ng from FIT acknowledged that the benefits outweighed the negatives. She worked at Alexander McQueen in London and put in 80 hour weeks but “loved it” because she learned so much. Layton agreed saying, “It all pays off. I’ve built some good relationships.”
Pratt senior Meredith Lyon said, “I’ve benefited in some way or another from all of them. You learn about human nature if anything!” One senior at Pratt had a very pragmatic take on the whole thing. “An internship is basically free education,” she said. “We pay so much for school, being unpaid as an intern isn’t necessarily slave labor because you’re learning something. But if you’re not learning or getting anything out of it then obviously that would be bad.”
LEARN HOW TO MAKE YOUR INTERNSHIP WORK FOR YOU