For college credit, I interned at a sustainable womenswear clothing brand, where I learned about eco-friendly approaches when constructing garment pieces and being exposed at first-hand how a designer plans and executes a seasonal collection.
Designing clothes has always been a passion of mine and as an intern, I really projected that feeling and excitement. I was attentive, ready to help in any way whether it was cutting fabric or dropping packages off. I wanted to make the most out of my opportunity and learn everything about running a fashion business.
Luckily, at my current job, every summer we would hire an intern to help us out for a couple of months in which I as a designer/former fashion design student, would try to be as informative and detailed as possible when it comes to teaching cool techniques through the Adobe Photoshop/Illustrator programs. Not to mention, I try to show my appreciation to our interns by giving them a digital folder filled with brushes (from my personal archives) in which they can use for their school projects/portfolio.
Here are my five essential tips/advices for the college students who are trying to land an internship and want to leave a first good impression on the design team.
(1) HAVING A NOTEBOOK IS A NECESSITY.
As an intern, you want to show the design team that you’re always prepared, organized and know how to manage tasks of various degrees from highly important to not-so urgent.
Purchase yourself a notebook to bring with you on your first day of your internship. Treat this notebook as if it was a journal- write down your daily tasks given to you by the design team and any notes to help you immediately when dealing with adobe/excel programs. By having your own notebook, it provides physical evidence of all the tasks you have done at your internship- this notebook can help you tremendously when preparing and editing your resume for future employers to see what experience you have so far.
Work smarter not harder, make the process of writing and developing the details of your internship for your resume an easy procedure. You’ll thank your future self later.
(2) BRING A TOTE BAG FILLED WITH ESSENTIALS FOR YOUR INTERN JOB.
When interning for a fashion company, you want to be efficient when dealing with day-to-day tasks. My major tip would be carrying a tote bag including a couple of small yet important items:
STYLISH COMFY FLATS: when we first start working in the industry, we focus on putting together a #workootd but we don’t necessarily prepare ourselves for the intern workload that comes to us. In reality, interns help out companies by running back and forth to drop and pick up packages. Because of that factor, you would want to wear comfy shoes when you have to step outside.
RE-USEABLE WATER BOTTLE/COFFEE MUG: stay hydrated yet feed into your caffeine cravings without over-using plastic cups. You can reduce your carbon footprint all while making an impression on your design team.
EMERGENCY KIT ITEMS: Because you can never be too safe and you always want to be prepared- my emergency kit includes small pieces such as a nail filer since I tend to break my nails every now and then, lotion for my hands in order to keep them smooth, chapstick, a couple of scrunchies and a small mirror to make sure you don’t have anything on your teeth.
(3) CREATE A FOLDER IN YOUR PERSONAL GOOGLE DRIVE TO SAVE EXAMPLES OF SKETCHES/PROJECTS YOU HAVE DONE.
As an intern, one thing is for sure: you will be sketching your heart out. On a good note, because you’re sketching or being given small creative projects like setting up a trend report, you have examples that you can absolutely use for your portfolio.
Before you begin your internship, sign up for Google Drive/ WeTransfer/ Dropbox or any other free storage service and create a folder to save sketches and projects you have worked on. Also, as a bonus tip, if you have Adobe Illustrator files that contain brushes of trims/swatches of fabrics, save a separate folder in order to make sketching easier for you at your next work place.
(4) YOU’RE ENCOURAGED TO SHOW YOUR SENIOR THESIS COLLECTION / FASHION PROJECT TO THE DESIGN TEAM & ASK QUESTIONS ABOUT THE INDUSTRY.
As designers, we like to see what the up-and-coming graduate class have to show when it comes to their sketches and mood board creations. It’s great to see what influences our interns to go along with a particular inspiration and most importantly, we as designers like to share our industry knowledge to allow the interns to become the best designer they can be.
If you’re an intern and you’re eager for some industry insight, my advice is to ask the Senior Designer permission for their spare time in order for you to show them part of your collection whether it be the development stages in your sketch book or a final page to your portfolio. If all goes well with the portfolio meeting, take this moment to also ask industry questions including what designers look for when hiring Assistants and how to negotiate salary.
(5) ON YOUR LAST DAY, MAKE SURE TO WRITE HAND-WRITTEN THANK YOU NOTES TO YOUR MANAGER & THE TEAMMATES YOU HAVE INTERACTED WITH.
When you’re at an internship for several months and you’ve had insight from the design team, it’s courtesy to write thank you notes to each member. Writing a thank you note shows your appreciation for the experience, knowledge and advice you have been given.
As interns, you don’t need to overthink what to write within your ‘thank you notes’. Normally, my format for these small gestures includes a generalized sentence followed by a personal touch that focuses on a memorable moment between you and a particular design member. Check out my example below:
” (Insert Team Member’s name),
Thank you for mentoring me these past few months, I appreciate the knowledge, advice and insight about the fashion industry that you have taught me especially taking time off of your busy schedule to take a look at my portfolio. I appreciate the suggestions and comments you have given me and will take into consideration the illustrator techniques you have taught me in order to enhance my designs
*include e-mail* ”
You can say so much within two sentences instead of writing an entire letter. Keep it short, simple and straight to the point. Once you’ve given your ‘thank-you’ cards and before leaving your internship, you should always ask for your team’s contact information in order to stay connected for future recommendations you would need when applying for jobs/ having a mentor to ask questions about benefits or to seek new opportunities such as an official employment.
When you’re interning, you will have fun and optimize your couple of weeks at the fashion company- you’ll learn how the industry operates and you will do tedious work but in the end, this experience will have you decide what kind of designer you would like to become in the near future.
Thanks & Best,