• Olivia Hansen

Do's and Don'ts of Interning

What is an internship? Simply put, it is an opportunity to learn and gain insider knowledge on your preferred profession in a working environment. They are investments in your career. My only understanding of internships and what they entail, has been solely influenced by watching films and TV shows when I was growing up. Specifically, MTV’s reality TV show The Hills, where we observe two of the main characters Lauren and Whitney interning at Teen Vogue Magazine. They are flown to New York to deliver a dress, go to a ball in Paris, gifted lots of free stuff and attend parties on behalf of the company. However, the crème de la crème of fashion films The Devil Wears Prada, shows the main character Andy getting her dream job with absolutely no experience in fashion, and she transcends through the publishing house effortlessly. These unrealistic versions of internships and starting out in fashion were my insight into the exotic and mystical world, that I longed to be a part of.

In 2017 I was lucky enough to hear through a friend about a work experience programme at The Times fashion desk. I applied on a whim convinced that I wouldn’t get it, but a week later I received a notification in my emails announcing that I had in fact, been accepted and would start in the summer. On my very first day I arrived well ahead of schedule and walked into the huge News Building at London Bridge - with the confidence of Lauren Conrad, and the naivety of Andy Sachs.

As it happens, the internship was not the glitz and glamour that I had envisioned through the depictions on the silver screen. Like any interning position, you are going in at the bottom of the pyramid, and need to prove with all your ability that you deserve to be there. Almost all my time was sat behind a desk staring at a computer screen finding images and transcribing articles for hours. Yet while I was there, it was evident that I was part of a prestigious company. And as I walked around the news floor it felt like an honour to be given the chance to learn, and work alongside such highly accomplished journalists and professionals.

So here I am now … a year and a half on from my first-time interning - I have worked in a trust company, saved up some money, and have been travelling around the world. This was my time to give this industry another cracking, and try to break in. I was accepted for my second internship at The Times fashion desk and found myself more excited this time around. Having completed my second bout at The Times, instead of indulging into my daily tasks, I thought it best compose a small list of do’s and don’ts that I think are important and realistic when you are new to interning.

Do: ask lots of questions

You have made it this far and secured the internship that you have been dreaming of, and now you need to make sure that your employer knows that you mean business. Asking lots of questions may sound over indulgent, but if they aren’t silly ones, take full advantage of it. Ask your colleagues what they did to get where they are, whether you can help more in any section of the role, or a simple ‘would you like a tea or coffee’?

Don’t: show any signs of negativity

I read an article published by The Telegraph that mentioned an intern rolled her eyes when she was asked to do a certain task. Let’s just say she didn’t last much longer. This befuddles me as she applied to work there for a reason. One of the jobs that I was tasked to do, was return all the clothes that had been used in photoshoots. This was a long and tedious process in a cupboard with no windows, no one to talk to and long hours of monotonous back and forth work. But, this was part of my internship and everyone above me had to go through the same thing. These sorts of jobs are a rite of passage. Majority of the times you won’t be doing the work you imagined yourself doing. You are in fact doing the jobs that no one else wants to do, so just smile, put your head down and get on with it.

Do: treat your internship like a real job

If this internship is a step towards the job you wish you had, you would be a moron to not act like this is the role you have been doing for years. As the saying goes, dress for the role you want and not the role you have. Therefore, I rocked up to work every day in clothes that I felt would impress, trying to look like a fashion editor rather than an intern. Holding my head high with my planner and notebook under my arm, I meant business. At least that was the look I was going for. I had done all my research, and read articles written by the journalists I was working with. In turn this made me appear professional and allowed me to bring forward ideas as I knew what had already been covered.

Don’t: get obsessed with the ‘dream job’

This may sound paradoxical to my previous statement that one should, dress to impress for your dream job. But like most things, there is no guarantee that you will be hired. I could picture myself working at The Times from the moment I stepped into the building, even during my second internship I was hoping that this time round I would get a job. This was unrealistic. Unfortunately for me, to become a journalist you must spend months and months interning, while being aware you may not get a job at the end of it. What’s the harm in trying?

Even though these are my personal experiences, they aren’t made up and exaggerated stories like the ones that I had based my internship on. Unlike in the Devil Wears Prada, I did not feel like I was being taken advantage of, or was disrespected in any way - nor did I feel like my experience was as glamorous as The Hills portrayed. Every moment was amazing and I wouldn’t change any of it. If you get the internship of your dreams, make the most of it, enjoy it and good luck.

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