Have you ever wondered what it’s like to intern in the fashion industry or work behind the scenes on a fancy shmancy photoshoot? Well, I’m here to spill the tea, so to speak, on those topics.
Here on Glam and Gowns, we’re launching this blog series we’re calling The Ins and Outs of Interning because we want to help you navigate the internship scene. We will provide you with tips and tricks on how to conquer internships and how to leave your bosses missing your help when you’re gone, plus we’ll share our own experience with you so you can learn from our successes and struggles.
Before we get into all of that fun stuff, though, it only feels right to start with the foundation layer. Before you can chase a dream, you have to have a dream! We know many of our readers love getting the inside scoop on all things trends, beauty and lifestyle, so we assume that plenty of you have thought about pursuing a career in fashion. For that reason, we want you to know what the fashion industry is really like so you can decide if you want to foray into the field or not. (Read through until the end to learn about an intern’s role behind the scenes of an on-location social media photoshoot.)
Also, before I dive into this post, I’d like to formally introduce myself. My name is Erica Fouts, and I am an editorial intern here at Faviana. You can read more about me in the bio at the bottom of this page.
Fashion jobs, much like those in the modeling industry, Hollywood, the music biz and many other creative industries, are so much more than simple 9-to-5 gigs. All the things you’ve heard about fashion being competitive and grueling are true. It’s lengthy shifts on little sleep, trying to look expensive on a budget, and a good way to familiarize yourself with rejection. As some have put it, it’s cut throat. That being said, the fashion industry can also feel like paradise for those who have always dreamt of making it in the glamorous business. It has many considerable negatives, but for people like myself, the positives outweigh them without question. The fashion industry is thrilling. It’s celebrating the beauty of style in all of its artistic forms. It’s working with dynamic individuals to relay a vision to the world. It’s determining what consumers want and finding a way to provide it for them before they even realize they want it. Though these positives may not sound concrete, it is hard to articulate my feelings towards fashion because I genuinely love the industry. Love is hard to explain! Remember, as the saying goes, if you love what you do, you’ll never have to work a day in your life.
If you see creative industries in the same light I do, then this is the post for you.
When you’re first trying to “make it,” it’s all about finding the right internship. Internships let you dip your toe into the water of different segments of the industry. For example, you may have always dreamt of working for a magazine, but you may also fall in love with product development after an internship. And before you say, “but why would I take a product development job in the first place?”, the overlap in this industry will surprise you. Even if you’re brought on as an editorial intern, you may wind up working very closely with the PR Department and discovering that event planning is actually the coolest thing ever. (I speak from experience!)
Fashion is a 3 trillion dollar industry. Trillion! So needless to say, the number of different jobs that lay under the industry umbrella is huge. Many people assume that fashion design is the only job in the fashion industry. That would be like saying the only career available in medicine is pediatrics. There is also buying, planning, managing, editorial, creative direction, styling, product development, public relations, marketing, digital analytics, social media, event coordinating, retailing, textiles, illustrating, graphic designing, photography… The list goes on and on and on.
You never know where you may find your true calling, so why not take an internship for a few months to help you figure out where it lies? They’re typically part time, so you should be able to balance it with school and/or work.
But as you probably know from hearing horror stories, not all internships are created equal. Finding the right internship can make all the difference. For instance, I could very well be making copies and fetching coffee for someone all hours of the day. Instead, I have the pleasure of learning about online editorial, analytics, public relations and digital marketing during my internship. I am entrusted with actual projects, so I am naturally motivated to do my absolute best. Not to mention that many colleges will give you credit for internships. In fact, I’m getting school credit by writing this right now. How nice is that?
Don’t get me wrong, you don’t want to get too big for your britches as an intern. Picking up lunch and steaming dresses will likely be a part of your internship— and there is a beauty in paying your dues and making sure your boss is better able to do their job. Just make sure you are learning.
Of course, not every one of your internships is guaranteed to be amazing. You may wind up not liking your supervisor. You may feel like you have too much on your plate, or worse, not enough. However, the bad internships teach you plenty as well. Through them you’ll learn what kind of boss you don’t want to be, what kind of corporate culture appeals to you, and what kind of job would bore you to tears.
What I’m driving at here is that if fashion is it for you, internships will teach you lessons that will help you grow professionally.
Before you decide that you want to pursue a career in this field, you’ll want to figure out if a typical day in the industry is appealing to you. So, I’m adding in my experience from Faviana’s most recent social media photoshoot below to help you do exactly that.
In movies and TV shows, you often only see fabulous montages of photoshoots. Yes, they are super fun and glamorous. But as an intern, they also tend to be days that you’ll spend doing heavy lifting, running errands, and sweating.
The shoot day began in a lush flower shop in midtown. Fueled by iced coffees and a collective desire to create something amazing, the marketing team gathered in front of a wall of faux flowers.
As the morning grogginess dissipated and the fog outside lifted, the models arrived on set. Us interns scrambled to unzip garment bags precariously hung from a shelf supporting an assortment of potted plants, and after sifting through a few dresses from the Spring Collection, we helped the models step into their gowns. Our photographer and Brand Marketing Coordinator, Diego Ledezma, snapped a few test shots as the models posed for their own social media feeds. Despite a few questions from curious onlookers and the lack of an actual dressing room, Diego managed to work his magic.
The models rocked sweet pastels and vibrant hues, contrasting well against the flora. A few quick changes later, the team was ready to head to yet another flower shop to capture more looks.
So, we grabbed the unwieldy garment bags and strutted down 28th Street.
At the second flower shop, we felt as though we had entered another world. We stepped off the busy city street and stepped into what felt like a mystic forest. As New York City dwellers, we are used to slipping through crowds rather than sliding by leafy plants, so obviously, the change of scenery felt refreshing.
Next thing I knew, I was hyping up our models alongside my team, shouting, “werkkkk, YASSS, gorgeous, we loovee,” as our photographer snapped away. (That’s fashion industry code for “you’re stunning, and you’re totally conveying the visual message we are looking for.”)
The day ended in Blank Slate Tea, an adorable pastel pink tea room in Midtown. The social media intern, merchandising intern, and I were first tasked with watching over the dresses that we laid on the bus stop bench in front of the tea room. As you can see, on-location photoshoots consist of a lot of “making things work,” as Tim Gunn would say.
The hours that followed brought several dress changes in a restroom next door, a few camera battery switches, numerous BTS captures for social media, a tea break, and eventually, the end of the shoot.
Once we wrapped, garment bags, camera equipment, and accessories were schlepped back to Faviana’s corporate headquarters. Though everyone was exhausted, there was a distinct sense of collective joy in the air.
The feeling you get from a successful photoshoot is invaluable. Because we are all bombarded by photos on the internet, in advertisements, and on social media on a constant basis, many of us do not take the time to consider how much work went into each photo. Like I said though, the hard work it takes makes it all the more satisfying when it’s over.
Keep in mind, not all fashion jobs will involve working on sets like these, but they are still a good example of the nature of work in this industry. Fashion people value collaboration and its power. We will work until a project is something we can be collectively proud of.
That, my friends, is why I love this industry.
Discovering your calling is incredibly satisfying, but please do not stress out if you don’t have your career aspirations figured out. People of all ages are still grappling with their professional goals, so there is no reason to feel distraught if you are still unsure of the path you want to take. Everything will work out in the end.
What internship advice to you want to hear next? Let us know by commenting below, or by tagging @FavianaNY on Twitter. Also, don’t forget to keep up to date with Faviana by following us on Instagram @Faviana and on Facebook @FavianaNY!
You got this, babes.
Written by Erica Fouts
Edited by Sonal Patel