I’m Monet-Lauren, I’m 19 years old and I’m currently in my second year of studying Fashion Public Relations and Communication at London College of Fashion. In the PR world, experience is everything to an employer, consequently making internships a huge part of my career progression. Despite the horror stories we all hear about internships, my experience has actually been extremely positive. I believe there have been a few things that have helped me to have these positive experiences and I’d like to share them with you.
Firstly, I started at a young age – I started my first fashion internship at 17 years old. Now, if you are older than this and are only just beginning to think about internships, don’t panic. I just believe that in starting young, I actually put myself into a really uncomfortable position, by being around real adults, doing real life things and then handing little old ME a lot of responsibility. I took this as a challenge and I loved proving myself. I didn’t ever feel like my age, race, gender or anything about me could stop me from being just as good as the big guys in the office. I was thrown in the deep end at a young age and I just kept on proving myself. Therefore, I gained confidence in myself in the workplace very quickly.
Secondly, I was always a good person to them, but most importantly to myself. Now, I know people walk into internships imagining that they’re in ‘The Devil Wears Prada’ and expecting to get trodden all over. I believe having this expectation is detrimental to a young creative. If the company treats you like crap, by all means LEAVE but first, stand up for yourself. I always walked into internships with my head held high, I believed I deserved to be there just as much as the other Account Executives in the room. I was always kind to people, but I also set boundaries. As human’s I believe our etiquette, our posture and how we treat ourselves, tells people exactly how to treat us. I’m not excusing the behaviour of many rude and power hungry people in the industry (trust me, there are many) but we have to stand up for ourselves and put ourselves first. Thats why I believe in brands such as ‘findyourintern’ who help young people get internships that are paid etc. I used to lust over working for certain brands that would ‘look amazing on my CV’ but, I also wasn’t prepared to be treated like an Andy and just run coffee’s all day. Set your boundaries, be polite about it – people will respect you. I also believe that the brand you work for will not make you, everyone in the industry talks. Therefore, if you’re good at what you do, the right brand will find you. I have gained all of my internships through people speaking of my good work and vouching for me. Also, its a very good idea to do your reasearch on the brand, look on Glassdoor or contact people on LinkedIn who have worked there before to ask for their experience and see if it is a good fit for YOU.
Thirdly, I looked for internships in all departments of fashion. My first ever internship was in a pattern cutting room, it was hot, sweaty and not very chic – yet, I loved it because it was a challenge for me, it wasn’t anything I wanted to go into but I got to learn the art of clothing, the conversation, the hard work that goes into it, I think that was the best thing I ever did. The owner got me tickets to my first ever fashion show at London Fashion Week. That one sacrifice led me onto working at a huge high end PR company in Old Street, meeting bloggers like Fleur De Force and Teyana Taylors stylist. I’ve now worked on LFW shows myself, for Agatha Connolly and Khanum’s. All very different but all beneficial. I feel like I know a lot more by being out of my comfort zone. It also proves to future employers that you’re willing to get your hands dirty and will be willing to solve any problems that may arise.
Lastly, MONEY. Internships aren’t easy for people like me who aren’t fortunate enough to live out of the banks of mum or dad but it’s cool, because I did it anyway. My trick was that I work part time. 2 Jobs in fact. I have a babysitting business but, also work in retail. I made this very clear to my internships and of course at first they’re hesitant but I made sure when I went to those internships I gave 100%. I always save, along with my student finance too. When you know you’re in an industry where interning matters we have to sacrifice, we all know these people love to pay our expenses about 6 months later than we expected (no shade) so, try to save in advance. Treat yourself but also think about the times where you may need that money to reinvest into your future.