I started this blog over a year ago to record everything I have gone through while on this fashion student turned intern journey.
Well I told you enough about school in Italy.
But I failed to tell you enough about my internships in New York.
I left Italy in September 2010 to New York, New York and because of freefashioninternships.com I was able to land my 1st internship ever (yes! first! ... I was 24 years old and I had never done an internship - what can I say its not really common in Nicaragua but highly common in New York and fashion). My first internship was at a start-up Fashion PR firm. At the moment, I had no idea what 'start-up' meant till I found myself sitting at a coffee shop everyday and eventually at a free workspace lounge (WIX in Chelsea) for creative 'start-up' companies. I was at this internship for 3 months because I NEEDED it (in all sense of the word need) .... to receive my diploma and have actual Fashion PR experience. Let me remind you I have a B.A. in Finance and now a Masters in Fashion Merchandising & Management - and in all of this just 1 class in Public Speaking, Writing I, and Fashion Public Relations. It's really not enough. My work background has been in Hospitality Management - again, not enough - NOT enough at all for New York.
So about this 1st internship - till now can I actually say how important it was to me. Because I worked side by side with the founder everyday ( 5 times a week; 10 - 5pm ) - she taught me everything! I wrote a press release, pitched to editors, called store buyers .... I really got a gist of communications.
There were moments where I thought "OMG! My butt hurts from sitting at this coffee shop, I am spending so much money, and I feel like am doing the same thing everyday".
SO what did I do??? ..... Well I talked to her and asked her for a little more work or different work. That way I wouldn't get bored. As for the coffee shop and spending, I couldn't do anything about that. It's a start-up and well there is no office and even if there were an office, I'd be sitting down all day anyways!! and you gotta try to pack that lunch!! that way you don't spend on $5 small soups everyday!
But like I said, at the end of the day - I believe that internship was one of the best decisions I had ever made. SO if you have a chance to work at a very small fashion company - I say GO FOR IT, you can learn a lot more.
Fashion School in Italy (Jan 2010-Sept 2010) - Fashion PR Internship in NYC (Sept 2010-Dec2010)
During my 1st internship, of course I was applying to jobs. Did I get any interviews? NOT AT ALL!
Right before I left my first internship my boss showed me resumes of the prospective interns - these kids were only 19, 20 and had 3, 4 internships under their belt! and now I was 25 and only had 1 fashion internship. Yeah, I've had 2 real jobs but again that's just not enough for NY and fashion. SO I headed home, with my head down to talk to my parents on giving me more time to be able to find this dream job. Having an amazing support system is fundamental!! Fashion is a bitch and she can rock, swing, and kick punch you in the stomach - and the only reason I got up every single time is because of my family, friends, and God.
God only put us in the life we are in now because he knew that we would be strong enough to live it.
Therefore, before the holidays I got another internship at a bigger Fashion PR firm and my parents were understanding. One of the things my dad said to me before starting this new internship was "Don't let anybody bring you down and treat you like a maid"
Fashion School in Italy (Jan 2010-Sept 2010) - Fashion PR Internship in NYC (Sept 2010-Dec2010) - Fashion PR Internship in NYC (Jan 2011-April 2011)
Let me just start by saying ONLY IF MY DAD KNEW .... HE'D KICK MY ASS!
Was I treated like a maid at the new internship? Sometimes. Did I learn a lot at the second internship? Definitely. It was just different a learning experience.
How can I sum up this internship?
Ok 1st of all, NEVER believe when the interviewer says "If you work a hard 5 times a week, you can get a job here".
Let me just start off by saying, I worked an intense 5 days a week - sometimes till 12am at events ... and after my sudden resignation, I was offered the full-time position of RECEPTIONIST! ... o0o slash fashion assistant/showroom assistant. It was a slap across my face! Offended? Just a little.
Seriously where can I start??
I loved working there. I loved everyone there. Yeah the environment was pretty bad most of the time. Everyone was always pissed off, shouting, fighting, talking smack about each other, - nevertheless, they 'loved' each other at the end of the day.
It took time for people to remember my name and to warm up to me - hey! interns come ad go, what do they care? ..... throughout the 3, 4 months I was there I think I met over 12 different interns and 1 of them is a great friend of mine now.
Why did I suddenly quit?
I didn't get a long with one of the assistants. She was younger than me and belittled the interns and one day I just exploded and spent most of the day crying. - yeah yeah, I read Kelly Cutrone's book "If You Have To Cry Go Outside" (Love that book!) - but you know, NO ONE HAS THE RIGHT TO TALK TO YOU LIKE AN IDIOT! I seriously don't fuckin care WHO YOU ARE ... because YOU DO NOT KNOW WHO I AM OR WHO I WILL BE SOMEDAY! ... KARMA WILL GET YOU! - Therefore, treat others as you would like to be treated.
Anyways, that wasn't the only reason I left. I left because I felt like I had no opportunity there after all, I knew there weren't any openings and I needed time to dedicate myself to look for a job and stop living off my dad. I'm 25 and I don't feel comfortable anymore being fully taken care of. I want my parents to be proud of me.
Interning has its ups and downs and I lived and learned. Kelly Cutrone says Don't Complain. Hey! I'm just venting .... and I'm not mentioning names here.
But if I have ever have an intern I won't tell her to go next door and get my coffee or to buy me a set of winter gloves for me and my lover because we are going skiing for the weekend, or walk and pick up my dog's shit. There are just some things interns should never do. I can only imagine the hell the Marc Jacob's intern went through that he had to vent it through Twitter. Shit, I've even heard of famous NY based designers that have interns go into their house at 5am to wake them up and dress them up. Seriously, how humiliating?? Again, I don't care if you are rich and famous now- try to remember where you came from and how you got there. There is no need for you to be on a high horse. My parents were poor, worked hard and made something out of themselves and are now 70 years old and still wake up on their own, respect employees, and have taught me to stand up for what I believe in.
Thank you to my internships and everyone that has been involved. I hold no grudge nor hate, at all. You were just an experience that shaped my life.
Read Kelly Cutrone's Book - If You Have To Cry Go Outside
Dedicate your summer or time off to an internship.
Don't dedicate your soul to an internship (it's unpaid. don't be stupid like me and work normal hours)
Wear flats and makeup (always look good, it's an unpaid job)
Additional Advice (Agree to Disagree):
I STRONGLY AGREE:
- DO help your interns learn skills they can use at other jobs, whether its patternmaking or memo writing.
- DON’T assign interns filing, photocopying, errands, or other mundane tasks (i.e. picking up dry cleaning, fetching lunch and coffee, acting as a courier, etc.). < Press Clippings, that's ok. But you know how many times the assistant asked me deposit money into his account? Buy soy chai sugar free coffees for assistants, guests, designers? Wash dishes in the bathroom for their after hour parties or visitors? Buy champagne for someone's birthday? >
- DO provide close supervision for interns, including the opportunity to shadow a senior employee; a day in the life of the creative director, public relations manager, or graphic designer is a the kind of learning experience that the Department of Labor wants to encourage.
- DON’T have more interns than full-time employees working in a single department. If the workload allocated to an intern is that of a full-time employee (or two), then you’re breaking the law. <I honestly didn't mind working long hours sometimes, but then again I shouldn't have>
- DO make sure that interns understand that there is no guarantee of a job at the end of the internship.
- DON’T rely on the fact that interns receive some benefit in the form of improved work habits while performing repetitive required tasks like clerical work (unless the intern is training to be a clerical worker). In other words, be sure to give more than you get.