HOW TO GET SOMETHING OUT OF YOUR INTERNSHIP:
LEARN TO SET LIMITS
A few students told us that you need to learn to speak up for yourself. Kelsy Carleen Parkhouse from Pratt, who’s done six internships, knows a thing or two about this. “I think it’s really important as an intern to set your own limits and only commit to what you’re actually comfortable committing to,” she said. Can interns actually say, “No”? “I got better at it the more internships I had,” Gross (from Pratt) said. “It was difficult to say no at first.”
ASK FOR HELP
Jennifer Minnitti, the chair of the Department of Fashion Design at Pratt (where design students are required to do an internship), said that the department makes site visits and that she expects students to report back with negative experiences. “This kind of behavior has gone on for a long time, but now people are reporting on it, so that’s good news,” she said, referring to recent reports of interns being taken advantage of by companies.
Angela Tsuei-Strause, Parsons’ director of Career Services, definitely has a few negative internship experiences arise every semester that require her support, “But it doesn’t happen as often as you’d think,” she said.
So are the horror stories true? Sure, some of them are. This is an industry that’s all about drama and glamor and big egos…go figure. But for all the talk of Millennials as an entitled bunch–like Grace Coddington saying that interns “think we owe them something,” these graduating seniors couldn’t have been more humble and willing to do the time. Granted, design internships are different from editorial and styling internships at fashion mags–there’s bound to be less courier service-like tasks (and maybe less poop scooping). Still, these interns put in 80-hour weeks for free. With pleasure.