Tips for landing a summer fashion internship

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In exactly thirteen days, finals will be upon us. That means you’ll be spending countless hours in the library with countless cups of coffee wishing for summer.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel, however. Once you are done crying into your textbooks and you recover from the carpal tunnel that comes with flipping through mile-high stacks of flash cards, it’s summer time. That means three months of sunshine, short dresses and long, beautiful days.

During this break, you have a few options to pass the time. You can stay in Dallas and take classes, enjoy the luxuries of living back home, or travel the world with your best friend. Or you can become an indentured slave, more formally known as an intern.

Internships are not for the faint of heart. More often than not, you will be working from dusk to dawn as a glorified Starbucks deliverer and endless paper filer, for little to minimum wage. Although the conditions aren’t necessarily ideal, you will walk away from your time spent interning with an indispensable experience.

It’s easy to talk about being a star intern, but this first requires actually landing the position. Finding an internship can leave some people a little baffled and not sure where to start. Here is a crash course on what you need to know to land and flourish at your dream fashion internship.

First, you need to find a posting for an intern position, which is much easier said than done. Start by going to your department head to get the list of employers who are specifically looking for SMU student interns. This means phone numbers and contact information for the right people who are looking forward to coming across your resume.

There are also countless websites that specialize in compiling a master list so full of employers and positions that it will make you dizzy. I recommend ed2010.com to find openings without spending a dime, or velvetjobs.com if you don’t mind shelling out a few dollars, which is definitely worth avoiding the headache that comes with the endless scrolling through listings.

A noteworthy newcomer is Business of Fashion’s recently launched career portal, so check that one out as well.

If you have your sights set on one company and one company only, go straight to their career website. You may not be aware of it, but most big companies list all of their openings in one convenient tab off of their home page.

No matter what you are looking for, be patient because it’s a tedious process and you will be filling out a number of questionnaires.

Once you have found your dream position, you need to wow them with your application. First things first: you need a killer resume. If you aren’t sure what that looks like make an appointment with the Hegi Career Center right now. They will give you a crash course on everything your prospective employer wants to see and more.

Another thing you may or may not be asked for is a cover letter.

Cover letters are tricky because, unlike resumes, there is no simple formula. A cover letter, in short, is your chance to tell the company why they can’t live without you. However, applicants make the mistake of simply throwing this document together. A cover letter is your chance to convey everything your resume can’t, so pick you words wisely.

Do note, though, that if a cover letter is optional, only submit one if it is truly life changing. If it only follows the average format and regurgitates your resume in paragraph form, leave it out.

If you are lucky enough to snag an interview, use the opportunity to really shine among the pool of other applicants. Make sure you do your research on the company you are interviewing with. Let me say this again: make sure you do your research! Nothing is worst than when the interviewer asks you a question about the company and you end up staring at him blankly.

Then there is the issue of what to wear.

Pay close attention to what kind of environment you are going to when you pick your interview attire. If it’s a big company, you want to veer more on the professional side. If it’s a boutiquey kind of place that you know has a relaxed culture, feel free to push the boundaries a little, but don’t go too overboard. And, for the love of God, do not wear heels you cannot walk in. Nothing is more painful to an interviewer than watching a girl hobble into your office and it’s not fun to start out uncomfortable.

Finally, top it all off with a professional portfolio in your hand. Put a few extra copies of your resume and cover letter in there in case they ask for it.

Also, if you have any previous work that might pertain to the job description – think photography projects or writing samples if you are applying at a fashion website or publication – that you can offer the interviewer.

Once you’ve landed the position, take it all in. Internships can be overwhelming, demanding, and hectic, but they also can be life-changing experiences. Be a sponge during the short time you are there and take in all the information and experiences that you can.

Throw yourself into the work and go the extra mile. Last summer, I interned at a luxury magazine and was put in charge of social media – the bread and butter of most intern positions. I suggested that I go to the photoshoots for some behind the scene shots and ended up working under the stylists and learning more about that field until I was going on shoots specifically to style. You might start in one position and then explore another area and realize you love it that much more.

No matter where you end up interning, enjoy the experience and take it for everything it is. Who knows, you might end up turning your dream internship into a dream job.

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