10 Tips for Your First Internship
Updated: Oct 8, 2021
So, you’ve studied your fashion, received another feather on your hat, and are ready to enter the real professional world out there now! We’re sure there is a lot of nervousness, excitement, insecurities, apprehensions, and a whole lot of anticipation right now. Well, that is how it is supposed to be. You are officially entering the fashion world and a new phase of your education. Your work experience also counts as education of sorts, right?
Here you are, about to brace everything that your first fashion internship has to show and teach you. Now, every internship is different because every employer, company, nature of work, and of course, every individual is different. But some things remain common in every first internship, whether it is in any other profession or like here, in fashion. So, while you prep yourself for this stepping stone in your life and career, let’s familiarize you with some tips that will definitely come in handy. Here you go!
1. Be open to teamwork and different ideas
When you work in a creative industry like fashion, one design or piece of work has ten different creative heads offering inputs on it. Teamwork is an essential part of any industry, especially a creative one. So, as someone who is just starting out, it is important to begin the internship with an open mind and a willingness to work with different people and different ideas.
Understanding diverse perspectives is very important here. You’ll be opposed, accepted, and unintentionally undermined along this course of teamwork. What helps here is simply being prepared for it all and taking this as a learning curve and an opportunity for self-growth personally and professionally.
2. Take dilemmas and problem-solving as a learning opportunity
What you learn in a course or a degree is all about the works. How to design, how to optimize your creativity, how to compile a portfolio, or how to illustrate your designs, and so on. But, what you learn at your first internship is beyond all these key learnings. Here, you will learn about the many real-life dilemmas and problems at a workplace related to your job.
Consider street smartness also as a part of your job here. Be ready to watch, tackle, and learn with every problem that you face. Say, a fashion piece missing in a look right before a show. There is no time to go running around to look for that piece. Here, you can learn to help complete the look without it by using another piece or enhancing the existing look. With every dilemma and problem that you help solve, you gain a new skill.
3. Take and initiate responsibility
Most people consider their first internships as an arrangement where they are simply allotted work by their seniors. But ideally, as a learner, you need to take a step up and ASK for responsibilities and of course, take them with enthusiasm too. Moreover, consider this as a part of your job to step into our role as a permanent employee and not as a fresher. Taking and initiating responsibility shows that you are, in fact, ready to take bigger roles or are at least willing to adopt them. So, we say, don’t shy away from your defined roles and those beyond you too. Take control and you’ll be surprised at your own performance and courage.
4. Communicate clearly and professionally
We may or may not learn how to speak professionally, how to write professional emails and texts, and how to communicate effectively in our study curriculums as such. Most of us learn these workplace communication etiquette and ethics when exposed to an environment like that. So, when you enter the professional world, come prepared to learn the basics of work ethics too and most of all, effective communication.
Besides the formal communication with clients, senior management, and colleagues, it is always a plus to learn to convey your ideas, thoughts, and opinions too. Moreover, it is important to be able to ask questions, gain clarity, and communicate negative things efficiently.
5. Learn to take orders
The customer is king. This is something you will realize once you begin working in your first internship and start working towards delivering work. As an intern, you not only have to take orders from your immediate senior but also the highest authority and the client too. Here, what you need is to be patient, diligent, and dedicated to your path and goal, which is learning. And, accepting the many orders you get and working to cater to each is just a part of this learning process.
6. Learn time-management skills
Safe to say, you’ll be compelled to learn this skill one way or another in your first fashion internship. But, isn’t it better if you enter it prepared with some do’s and don’ts and some important tips to manage your time well? Well, we say this because an internship is your very first exposure to the industry, and the deadlines, to-dos, and back-to-back tasks can be daunting.
So, make sure you maintain a notebook, where you keep a to-do list to do or orders that you get. Moreover, make sure that you allot every task a timeline and a perfect slot. Maintaining such simple habits can be life-changing for you and can save you from delivering poor performance and end-moment panic.
7. Learn multitasking skills
With close deadlines also come many parallel deadlines, which means that in your first internship, you not only need good time-management skills but also multitasking skills. Imagine yourself making a client call while making a new design and writing a work email, all at the same time. Yes, that is what a workplace of fashion looks like. So, chances are you may get swept into a multi-tasking frenzy in your internship.
The key to remaining calm and closing off all tasks patiently? Prioritize. Know what is needed first and tick each task one by one based on levels of urgency. Even if the deadlines for each are close, prioritize and go back to the time-management point to learn to manage it all well without losing your head.
8. Understand that no work is small
Yes, you may or may not have similar experiences as those fashion internship chick-flicks. From tasks that include your creativity and aptitude to ones that are as trivial as sourcing outfits, picking up packages and bags with garments, and even ironing out an outfit. You may or may not have to indulge in such chores and tasks at your fashion internship.
But guess what? That may seem like a small task for you at that moment but it really is not. It is, in fact, these small steps that form the foundation of your career and success years ahead. So, when you are asked to execute small tasks, accept the orders willingly and happily. No work is small and you will probably realize that years into your career as a fashion professional.
9. Learn to tackle pressure with composure and calmness
Again, we circle back to the points about time management and multi-tasking. When you are face to face with recurring deadlines and multiple tasks at a go, you are bound to lose your composure. Now, your years of learning in fashion will include many days like these, where you are in a flurry of tasks, deadlines, briefs, and increased pressure of delivering all of these efficiently.
Clearly, it is important to begin your days with a positive spirit and a ‘can do’ attitude. So, even under pressure you know you can deliver the task/work efficiently and with a sense of calmness. Most of all, go prepared with enthusiasm and you will tackle the pressure of any sort with ease.
10. Respect goes a long way
Lastly, enter this phase of learning with a curious mind and respect for every part of it. The time and effort that you’re investing, the mental energy that you’re putting in, the workplace, your mentors, and the work that you’re doing. As overused as this is, it is still true and applicable here that as long as you respect your work, you will feel and earn respect too. It goes both ways.
You not only show respect for your work but through it, you also earn respect from your co-workers and seniors. All in all, stay committed, dedicated, and respectful towards your learning process at your first internship!