My name is Michelle Chai, and I am a 19-year-old university student, studying Writing Fashion and Culture in Southampton, England.
For as long as I can remember, clichéd as this is beginning to sound, I havetoyed with the idea of incorporating my love for fashion with my love for writing, and turning into something I could pursue for a career. So, I’ve ended up studying for a competitive degree in one of the hardest industries to get into.
I don’t even remember ‘starting’ to love fashion, I just remember fighting with my mother to put my own choice of horrendously bright leggings, frilly socks and T-bar shoes on from the age of 5!
This summer, I was lucky enough to be offered a two-week internship at a weekly fashion magazine in London, England. In England, getting work experience is mayhem – most publications now only offer those studying a relevant course or those over 18 a placement. So, without further ado, this is a little diary of what happened during one of the weeks that I worked at more! Magazine.
Monday morning is usually a hectic day in the office, with everyone running ragged making preparations for the next issue (more! comes out every Tuesday), and this was no exception. Shani Chaplin, the fashion assistant, was busy calling in press samples for the upcoming photoshoot and making last-minute changes, and so I was left to my own devices in the packed fashion closet. It usually depends on which publication you are interning for, but your main duty will probably be making returns of press samples to send back to PR companies. This is also excellent for learning about which PR companies look after certain brands! I also had to organise the main fashion cupboard, full of items to be shot in the next week.
In between making more press sample returns, today I also was asked to rush around to the Topshop press office on Oxford Street to collect ten new collection garments for Frankie, a junior stylist. This is where it becomes obvious that you need to know where things are in the city you’re working in – thank God I’m a frequent London shopper! Although it quickly became obvious that interning at a fashion magazine isn’t all glamour, I persisted, unlike the other two interns who flaked and just sat on their phones for a good 3 hours, and finished the days’ returns.
Today was quite a slow day. Again, I worked on returns, and organising the fashion cupboard. I even went to the courier room to collect parcels, which was pretty boring, but I took it all in hand with a smile plastered on my face… and finally, the fashion department noticedme! Sophie, the Executive Style Director, Shani and Frankie, asked me to help style for the shoot on Thursday and wrote out labels with the garment label, price and brand. I slaved away, collecting more parcels from downstairs and rushing back up – one of the parcels included fancy customised cupcakes and LUSH Cosmetics goodies! – and Shani asked me to assist Anna, the Senior Stylist, on the Coverline photoshoot on Thursday! It really goes to show, if you persist and appear friendly, enthusiastic and indispensible, the big guns will notice.
Photoshoot day. It was so stressful just getting to the studio! Once I arrived though, the studios were so sleek and modern looking, with different set-ups in each studio. This was probably the highlight of my time at more! so far, it was so busy and fun to work at! Basically at the shoot, I unpacked the clothing, styled the accessories and dressed Katy (the model), who was so lovely and pretty! I also wrote the credits, and pinned the outfits to fit the model. SO much work, but definitely worth it! Oh, and we got free sushi!
This is the last day of my first week at more! The entire Fashion department went along to work the Clotheshow London, and put on some live fashion shows, leaving myself and two other fashion interns to man the department! I was slightly worried and overwhelmed by the amount of work but managed to cope, and realised that organization is everything in the fashion world. No matter how hectic things are, there is always some form of organisation in order. I finished returns, compiled credits for the main fashion spread, got voxpopped about Twilight and tidied the fashion closet.
All in all, my experience has been amazing. Although it is tiring and repetitive at times, if you seriously love fashion then you should definitely send out and email cover letters and your CV (or resume) to magazines. An internship will confirm whether this is the thing for you. Also, always remember confidence is absolutely everything!
Intern Tips [advice learned from experience]:
- Rings and bracelets are risky. I lost my favourite ring! And I kept getting caughton pieces of clothing because of my bracelets!
- Flat shoes are an essential, or even a low wedge. Heels may look professional, but when interning, you’re probably better off wearing something that looks good and feels comfortable.
- Organization is everything. It’s quite hectic in the fashion cupboard, and there are hundreds of returns bags, hangers, clothing and other bits and bobs lying around, so being organised will get you off to a flying start.
- Be friendly and smiley!
- The courier room people will probably become your best friends; given the amount of time you’ll probably spend collecting garment packages and other ‘special deliveries’. One of the parcels I took up to the girls included personalized cupcakes and Lush goodies! :O I can hear jaws dropping in amazement already!
- Interning at a fashion magazine isn’t glamorous; I’m not going to lie. It is a lot of blood, sweat and tears, and by the middle of your second day, you’ll most probably want to pack it in (I know the interns I worked with were close to leaving on Tuesday!) but keep smiling, power through and the fashion editors WILL eventually notice.
Have a question for Michelle or about interning in general? Leave a comment below!