1. Finding the Internship
There are plenty of websites out there with insider scoop on internship openings. Our favorites are Ed2010, MediaBistro, Free Fashion Internships, and Intern Queen; check these out to see what’s open and know the qualifications. Many of them will state very plainly whether or not you have to be eligible for credit, but even if you don’t exactly fit into the eligible category, it never hurts to reach out to open opportunities, as they may be able to refer you to something that fits for you. Don’t just rely on these websites, however; many great opportunities are filled before they even get listed. Reach out to places you’d like to work just to introduce yourself. If nothing else, they’ll have you on file for future jobs.
2. Target the Right People
This involves a little bit of research. If you want to work at a magazine or a website, check out the masthead. Familiarize yourself with the work of editors in the department you’d like to work in. Though not always publicized, their work emails are not hard to dig up (most publications have a basic formula for email addresses). Don’t get carried away – seriously, don’t fire off an email to Anna Wintour! – as not all editors will be open to random contact. If you’re shooting for someone rather high on the masthead, try reaching out to the assistant. And don’t just email one or two people; hedge your bets by picking multiple departments at multiple places. For every 50 emails you send, you might get 10 responses.
Apply to well-known institutions but also consider branching into smaller, growing operations. Interning for a small designer or for a digital publication (like Fashionista!) can often give you a richer experience than being with a big organization because you can get your hands in more pots. And just because you think you want to work in, say, beauty doesn’t mean you should limit yourself to that department; internships are an opportunity to learn and you might find that you love working in PR or that you’re passionate about digital. It’s all about getting your foot in the door!
4. Know Where You’re Applying
If you manage to score an interview, do your research on the person who is interviewing you and the company they work for: what have they written recently, who is an up-and-coming model they’ve just signed, what was the theme of the last runway presentation? The last thing you want is to look clueless in an interview after you’ve done all the hard work of getting through the door.
5. Reach Out
You’ve done all the leg work, you’re an expert about where you want to work, and you’re ready to apply. Get your resumé in good shape by having someone you respect look over it and give you feedback. (Pro Tip: there is no reason a resumé should ever be longer than a page. Keep it tight and concise!) Sit down with a list of people you want to get in touch with, and take the time to write an individual email to each person. No mass emails! They should feel personal without being unprofessional. Mention something that shows you know the company – a recent article you liked or a campaign that stands out for you. They should want to read your email and it should make them open your resumé.
With luck, you’ll start getting responses. Oftentimes people will reply that there isn’t anything available, and instead will offer an informational interview or ask to keep your resumé on file. The best thing that can come of your work is nailing an internship, obviously, but this is an industry that’s all about making connections, so any response is a good one!
If you’re feeling particularly bold, read on for some tips on applying in a way that’s guaranteed to help you stand out (These tips are not for wallflowers!)