Understanding that intern experience is vital and at the forefront of a CV’s ability to exemplify you have professional workplace experience; I began my first internship last summer. It was the end of my second year of University and I’d been looking for around 6 weeks for a publishing internship to support my Arts and Humanities degree. Sadly, with no physical experience nothing came about and I became convinced I wouldn’t find anything as the conclusion of second year quickly approached. With two days left, I found an internship in fashion PR for a start-up luxury designer brand. Although I had little interest or knowledge in fashion, I wanted to work in a studio environment, around creative people and gain an insight to PR skills so I applied. Within a day, I had a response from the designer inviting me for a phone call interview the next night.
I was nervous, phone skills are vital to any job particularly within studio environments and the public sector. I had the added pressure to prove I had a professional and quick thinking telephone manner. The interview went well and as usual, the time anticipating the interview was worse than the interview itself. I was offered to come in the next day starting three days a week 10am-6pm in the studio. On the first day, I had an introduction to the brand, the designer herself and then we headed out to lunch to get to know each other better on a more casual basis. At the end of the day, my boss let me know that today had been an exception and no day from here on would be this casual not to mention, easy. She was right. Aside from the 6.30am start and not getting home till 9pm, the day was long. I would return home mentally and physically exhausted only to get up and do it again the next day. However, my boss was fair and flexible allowing me to choose the days I wanted to come in, paying my expenses and giving me an hour’s lunch break which I enjoyed in the hot summer sun. She regularly treated me to coffees and I was more than happy to do the coffee runs to get fresh air.
In an average day I would manage data input, update spreadsheets on fashion buyers, magazines and independent stylists. My job surrounded getting the brand picked up. I would email around 5-8 people every day, tailoring the email to the individual or the magazine after detailed research on them and then follow up with a phone call. I had to be intensely organised highlighting the names of those who I needed to call, follow up with a call or email and those who were non-responsive or uninterested. The job was not always easy. Data input and PR in general demands intense durations of scrutinizing attention, it can be easy to zone out or make small mistakes but these small mistakes can be huge. Also, the fashion industry is not shy of being blunt and you had to be tough and leave sensitivity at the door. Individuals are phoned all day every day and can be pretty mean, phone calls could rattle your nerves and you had to maintain composure.
I worked 1-1 with my boss in a small studio space and it could be intense. I hugely respected my boss but she also terrified me! She was a straight A* student who studied at one of the world’s top universities and left a highly paid job to follow her dream. She was acutely aware of detail, presentation and absolute perfection. Under her watchful gaze, I felt compelled to be no less than 100% at all times. The pressure could take its toll. I did doubt myself, I did question my intelligence but her offer to stay on when my internship ended proved to me I fulfilled the role. Having her respect but also her friendship made my lost summer of festivals and fun all worth it. Sadly, I couldn’t stay on due to third year commencing with a mountain of workload within the first week. We departed ways but stayed in touch and I was recently invited to her open studio sale.
While I wouldn’t want to work in fashion again, I gained monumental skills in data input; telephone communications; photoshoot assistance, and in-depth research. My organisation skills were heightened and my composure under pressure put to the test. I am so grateful I stumbled across the internship; I owe a lot of where I am now to that time. Six weeks ago I began a publishing internship with Student and Graduate Publishing, one day a week alongside the final weeks of my degree. My PR skills harnessed much of the skill set that came with this role like research, writing, creativity and communication. The internship at Student and Graduate Publishing was a perfect opportunity for me. Finishing it at the same time as my degree meant I would come out with two internships under my belt and a degree, while the one day a week meant I could break from University pressures and concentrate my efforts elsewhere. The nature of my intern work transitioned me from university life into professional publishing life illustrating on my CV where I wanted to direct my skills next.
Interning at Grad Mag was a refreshing break – I moved from 1-1 studio space to working within a small team at an office. I was re-familiarised with managing spreadsheets, updating databases and being allowed opportunity to produce articles - like this one! This, of course, was the pinnacle of my CV experience exemplifying that I have published work in the public sector – a vital for any paid job opportunities. Doing internships are crucial for shaping your career and building your resume. Employers are more likely to hire you if you have intern experience leading you to better opportunities. While on a personal level, it gives you real-life experience, skills you can’t gain within a student position, networks, a career foundation but most of all, confidence – win win!
-By Lily Nicole