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What Fashion Internships are Really Like at Conde Nast and Hearst

Most of what we know about the nature of fashion internships comes from our own experiences, friends' experiences, articles like these and unrealistic portrayals on shows like The Hills and Gossip Girl. However, there are other resources that we didn't know existed until recently--websites where people can go to anonymously rate and/or review their internship experiences. They're sort of like RateMyProfessor, but for internships. Unfortunately, there isn't one that's overwhelmingly comprehensive, but after perusing a few, we found some good (or really bad depending on how you look at it) evaluations of internships at companies like Condé Nast, Hearst, PR Consulting and more. Most (not all) of them are negative and filled with horror stories--mainly because people seem more interested in writing negative things on the internet than positive ones. We're sure plenty of people had positive experiences at these companies as well. Regardless, many of them do offer good insight into what people do during fashion internships. Read and learn.
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Most of what we know about the nature of

Condé Nast--specific magazines unknown

“It's what you make of it” Pros: I wanted to reply to the intern who posted that this isn't a good place to intern at. I disagree. It's really what you make of it. If you work hard and prove yourself they'll give you awesome projects to work on and treat you like the employee you are. If you slack, they won't. Simple as that and same as any other internship. That said, the program they have there is wonderful, and one of the best experiences I've ever had. And if you take an internship that isn't something you're interested in or that has nothing to do with the skill set you have to offer just because it's Conde Nast, that's your fault for settling, and yes, you will be miserable.

Cons: Biggest (and really, only) con by far is trying to live in New York on a lunch stipend. Unless you have rich parents (can't say I do), get saving up, because even living frugally you'll blow through a few thousand dollars doing this.

Advice to Senior Management: I would really like to see interns get paid, if for no other reason than unpaid internships make it hard for us little people to break into the industry. Otherwise, a great program for learning and making connections, and truly something I have no regrets for doing.

( from March 22, 2011)

I was never too happy at Conde Nast, yet I miss the place like an abusive lover.” Pros: Beautiful building, beautiful people. Times Square is an amazing location, and I've always been proud to work there. You will meet some interesting personalities at Conde Nast, and of course there are the free clothes and makeup. I should also add that despite Conde Nast's reputation as a cut-throat place, it's also pretty accepting in that there is no sexism, racism, or homophobia.

Cons: A lot of people are unhappy here. It's true. Whether they're dissatisfied with their salaries or the fashion/publishing industry as a whole (or perhaps it's the fact that even senior level people work more than 8 hours a day), people do not seem happy to be working at Conde Nast, even though theoretically it should be everyone's dream company. People cry, snap at each other, get sacked, send passive aggressive emails.

Advice to Senior Management: Psst, senior editors: your assistants spend the day either stressing out or sending each other emails about how much they hate you or who is going to be let go next.

( from April 27, 2010)

Hearst--specific magazines unknown:

"Great place to begin working in the fashion industry” Pros: The fashion assistant, market director, and even fashion director were extremely kind and open to working closely with interns. This definitely helped later in life.

Cons: Because of the vast number of interns, there was often little to do at the beginning of the summer. By August, many interns had quit and responsibility increased.

Advice to Senior Management: Like in a magazine, be sure to edit down the number of interns in each department!

( from November 29, 2010)

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Harper's Bazaar:

A great entry level position for a strong motivated sophomore in college. Can help open up many doors, but be ready to put in the time and effort. Magazines can make or break your love for the fashion industry.

( from January 12, 2012)

Marie Claire:

There were about 12 interns, and I don't even think the staff knew most of our names. It was basically all grunt work and the environment was very hierarchical. I don't think Marie Claire values their interns very much; we were pretty much just the unpaid hired help. I don't think I learned any valuable skills or insight into the industry.

( Start of Internship: 11/04 End of Internship: 4/05)

Polo Ralph Lauren:

This is a great way to be exposed to a company that can serve both the artistic side of fashion as well as the commercial side. Collection in particular concentrates on only the show by a big group of very talented people. They get together at least a couple times a week all together with models and Ralph for the creation of the woman of the Ralph Lauren world. These meetings can go from anywhere btwn 40mins to 4 hours depending. It was a very very intense environment with all the important people in the Polo Ralph Lauren company and 30-40 models. Do not mess up, this will cause a big catastrophe.

It is important that you understand the woman of the Ralph Lauren Collection. Most people come out of it having a great experience.

( from October 10, 2011)