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  • Writer's pictureTeam DesignerShala

How to Negotiate Your Pay as a First Time Intern

Updated: Jan 5, 2022

During your last year in design college, you may have heard many horrifying stories about how design interns are made to work round the clock without a proper stipend or income. While some of us probably prepared ourselves mentally to accept this disappointing part of a fashion design internship, somewhere at the back of our minds we don't want to settle. Well, the good news here is, you don't have to settle.

Getting an internship as a fresher isn't an easy task as we all know it. After days of research, multiple changes in your CV, and countless interviews, finally getting your break in the industry is huge. Sometimes we are so overwhelmed about getting an internship that we barely pay attention to what the company is offering in return. However, it is essential to consider your stipend as well, for it can later lead to regrets and lack of motivation in your internship phase. Here are some simple ways that will help you negotiate your pay as a first-time intern.

Hone your skills before applying for an internship

Most firms these days aren't just looking for hard-working employees with an easy-going attitude, but they rather want to invest in leaders who not only possess smart working techniques but are also good team players. As a last year student, try to take up as many responsibilities and leadership positions as you can, to polish your communication and decision-making skills. Participating in various college festivals, educational contests and taking up specific courses will help you build a strong resume and open doors to new opportunities. While you're still completing your graduation, it's best to plan ahead of time in order to avoid roadblocks on your way to a successful career. List out a set of careers that interest you the most, the best companies to work for in your chosen industry, in this case, the fashion industry, and the right skills required to bag a fashion design internship after graduation. Once you're done making this list, you will be able to witness your career pathway quite clearly. Create a plan as to how you can acquire the skills needed to get the internship and work dedicatedly towards achieving them. You can also consult your seniors and your faculty members in order to get helpful guidance. Try to find and communicate with those who've been there in the field that interests you, and understand the challenges and opportunities they've received in order to prepare yourself in a better way.


Create a portfolio with your best project work and achievements

In an interview, the person on the other end isn't interested in your resume stating your hobbies, education qualifications and other general details about you. They want to know who you are, what your capabilities are and what you can bring to the plate. While telling them about your achievements and capabilities in a confident way will get you through the first round, the best way to convince your interviewer is by showcasing a strong portfolio. In that case, it is essential to keep a collection of your most impressive projects, case studies, essays and digital artworks. Showing your portfolio with all your past work is the smart way of convincing your interviewer about your inexhaustible skills. Another way to impress your interviewer is by letting them know about the work ethics that you follow. Tell them about your strengths, past innovations, your goal-oriented attitude and how well you can contribute to the firm. While confidence here is key, make sure that you don't over-promise things that would be hard to deliver later. Be honest with your interviewer, but not too honest. Make sure that your interviewer knows you'd be a great asset to the company and that losing a candidate like you would be a loss. Once you've created that kind of imagery in your interviewer's mind, negotiating the terms of your employment will become an easy task. Invest your time gaining digital/graphic skills, as they are the future

Even though your job profile may not require technical, digital, graphical or excellent writing skills, understand that these are quite essential skills in general. They will not only help you deliver high-quality work at a quick turnaround time but also make sure that your seniors are aware of your additional skills. These skills can assist you in cracking tough interviews as well as climbing up the corporate ladder.

Nowadays, many graduates are investing their time in learning basic digital and graphic skills. This can be really helpful in the long run as today we live in a digital era. We no longer rely on handwritten or printed letters or informative files, because everything is digitized. That's why an advanced knowledge of Microsoft tools and a basic understanding of graphic designing can be quite helpful. While some may be lucky enough to have these as subjects in their college, it's best to keep practising until you've mastered these tools. You can also take up advanced courses on upgrading digital/graphic skills as they will provide you with hands-on knowledge and experience.

Source: Adding these additional skills to your CV will make you an ideal candidate for any company. This will enable your employer to understand that you're not just a fresher working for experience, but rather a highly skilled candidate who would take their company to great heights. Once you've expressed this via your resume and portfolio, it's time to communicate it through your own words too and help your employer understand why you deserve to be paid well even as an intern. When you're negotiating your pay as an intern, don't just think of how badly you need the job to get the required work experience. Think about the time, effort and value you would be adding to this job. As graduates, we're all made to think that for an intern it is completely fine to accept a meagre stipend. However, keep in mind that you've worked hard to achieve the skills you have and that if given a chance, you could help the company progress with your skillset. Once you've gained the skills you need and realized what you deserve, negotiating for it will come naturally to you.


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