Tips + Tricks to Landing Your Dream Internship
I remember applying for my first internship like it was yesterday….likely because I was totally overdressed for an interview to be a fashion closet intern and 1000% because I was terrified because I had no experience. Well, I’m here to say, if you’re reading this and you’re preparing for your first internship interview or second, or tenth...don’t worry, you're gonna kill it babe.
When I was starting my internship journey almost four years ago, I wish there had been a guide on where to find internships, how one goes about getting one and then prepping for the dreaded interview. Well, After being around the internship block quite a few times and learning many key lessons on cutting out stress and anxiety, I’ve written out all my go to tips + tricks (with a help from my favorite #superinterns AND my adorable guest editor/mentee, Lauren Padula) on landing your dream internship with little to no experience:
Where to find these internships?!
If you're just beginning your internship search, knowing where to look is the first step. I'm constantly being asked where I found my opportunities and the answer is really simple: Google. As a freshman new to New York, I hopped on the computer and looked up "fashion internships in new york city" and went from there. Fashionista.com was my most visited site for a while! Whatever space you're looking to break into, spend some time researching the top companies and people in the roles you'd want to have one day! Before you apply for anything, its valuable to have a dream list of companies and people to act as your north star.
No matter your industry, the best places to find internship opportunities are:
- College Career Centers : hugely valuable resource for internship listings, interview prep, resume assistance!
- Google : Search up internships opportunities in your major, interest, at your favorite companies!
- LinkedIn : One of the best places to get a sense of both what internship opportunities are available as well as who else works at the company.
- Internship Websites : Internships.com or SimplyHired.com
- Instagram : Follow your favorite brands and people closely to see if they post an opportunity (this is how I landed HBFIT!)
- Relevant Editorial / Media Platforms : Most of the amazing organizations or media platforms you read also have career listings if you check! For fashion, I love Create + Cultivate's Classifieds.
So you've got an interview, now Take some time to study your resume and list of accomplishments.
Think of an interview as a brag session because that’s what it kind of is. You have about 3-5 minutes to really captivate your interviewer so you want to make every response count and really sell yourself. You never want to stumble over finding a response that relates to your experience so just brush up on your bullet points and look through your past projects -- class assignments can count!
Think about how your experience applies to the role and what skills would be transferable.
When I went in for my first ever internship interview to be Interview Magazine's fashion closet intern, I was so nervous that I remember exactly how clammy my hands were. Prior to this internship, my experience was limited to being a door-to-door window salesgirl, a receptionist at one of those pyramid scheme companies that sold knives and an associate at Party City...yea, there weren't too many *fashun* jobs in Silver Spring, MD, but a girl's gotta earn a check!
Anyways, I fell into this spiral before the interview thinking about why would a big fashion company want to hire me? I had NO relevant experience! But that's where I was wrong. I actually had learned skillsets that maybe at first look might not seem applicable, but it's how you sell yourself and those skills that make all the difference. As a door to door salesgirl, I became super personable and capable of starting and holding a conversation with anyone -- alas people skills! As a receptionist, I had to maintain an orderly office, answer all the incoming calls and manage all the scheduling -- alas administrative and organizational skills! As a sales associate at Party City during the holidays, I was in charge of coordinating costumes for customers and maintaining an organized store at all times -- alas very similar to maintaining a fashion closet and coordinating samples. After thinking through all my applicable skillsets, I was able to really sell myself to the interviewer and despite not having any EXACT experience, I was able to show that I understand what the role entailed and how I would able to meet those expectations.
Know the role, the company and the interviewer(s).
This is one of my most important tips. If there’s one critical take away from this post it’s that you need to know what the role entails so you know how you can sell your accomplishments. Take time to deep dive into what the company does, what their values are, even who their founder is and how the company got its start. Companies want to see that you’ve done your research and you’re a good fit for their company culture. When it comes to knowing the interviewer, you don’t have to go full blown stalker, but check out their LinkedIn and social channels to get a feel for them. It also helps if you find any commonalities you can drop into the convo to score you bonus points.
Send a confirmation email prior to your interview.
A nice little touch to show that the meeting is front of mind. It doesn’t need to be anything too formal -- “Hi so + so, Hope you’re having a great day! I just wanted to check and confirm that (insert time here) is still a good time to meet? Looking forward to connecting! Thanks, (insert your name here) -- smoothhhhhh.
When you’re thinking through what to wear, use the IG Profile Check.
Moving from Silver Spring, MD where I wore khakis and a *excuse me for a minute….* striped Ralph Lauren button up to my Party City interview, I knew that with interviews in NYC? There are levels to this, sh*t.
For every industry it’s pretty different on what the standards of dress are so I came up a little test called the IG Profile Check. When you’re doing research on who you’re interviewing with or the people you might be working alongside in the role, check their Instagram profiles for the lowdown. If it’s private, in my experience, it’s safe to say the culture is a bit more buttoned up and you should lean towards the safe side with a business formal or a suit for corporate roles and business casual for anything you’re unsure about. If the accounts are public, then dive in and take notes on everyone’s work week outfits to inspire your fit!
Always bring a couple of copies of your resume
Bringing a couple of copies is one of those things you eventually learn to do through being awkwardly unprepared for a group interview. Let the image of my awkwardly sweating upper lip save you from being in the same position. You’ll be good if you bring 5 copies...those with anxiety? 10.
***Pro Tip: If you live outside the city where you're applying, make up a false address inside the city for your resume. This might sound crazy, but employers unfortunately get dissuaded by commuters because of the perceived transportation struggle
Take a deep breath and relax!
Everyone has at one time or another been on your side of the table, in the interviewee's chair. It's not the interviewer's place to stump you or ask you a wildly out there question that leaves you speechless or walking out scratching your head like WTF?! Before every interview, take a deep breath, remember that your interviewer had to interview for the role they are in so they know what it's like and also! think of this as a conversation...you're interviewing them as much as they're interviewing you.
For my babes with anxiety like me, here's a little extra trick I do to shake off the worst of my anxiety...show up to the interview 10 minutes earlier than you plan to walk in and take a quick walk around the neighborhood listening to your best boss babe playlist. STRUT around the block, DANCE around the block, shake out any extra energy and tell yourself that you're a BOSS, there's no one like YOU and you're gonna go in there and TELL THEM why you deserve this role!!
Finally, always send a follow-up!
Show your interviewer that you appreciated them taking the time to interview you by sending a short but sweet follow up email within 24 hours of your meetings. This gives you the opportunity to emphasize your enthusiasm for the role and now that you know more about what you’ll be learning hands-on so you can include specific things you’re excited to work on (i.e, learning how to conduct consumer research, gaining more insight into understanding analytics, etc).
✨ Wise Words from the Superinterns ✨
I asked a few of my favorite #superinterns to share a piece of advice they’d give anyone interviewing for an internship role with them, here’s what they had to say…
“The first thing that I would observe is whether they have a sense of entitlement or not. We are all human, and we are all on the same level, just trying to figure it out. I also highly believe in a positive attitude. Having the ability to see the bright side of things is something I would want in people that work with me.”
Former intern at Refinery29, NYLON, Milk Makeup, and Jill Stuart
"If you want to intern in social, don't be afraid to show off your hard work, whether you helped grow a following or even grew your own. And by that I don't mean "look at how many followers I have" but more like "look how many followers I helped grow with this strategy." It's all about the HUMBLE brag, making sure you show how i.e "I grew a following through engagement, content quality, etc." With that I also think it's great when a potential intern understands social terminology I.E "rate of completion," "drop off after first slide," key terms definitely set you aside from another applicant."
Currently @ Coveteur
Former intern at Tommy Hilfiger - Special Events + International Marketing, Agatha Ruize De La Prada/Vogue Mexico
I'd love your feedback! If you have any advice you'd like to share or questions, drop me a line below!
I can't wait to hear from you xx C