To Freelance or Intern? Here’s the Full Picture
Updated: Jan 4
With the buzz around fashion freelancing over the last few years, this millennial career approach has become more and more accepted today, in every field. Particularly, in the fashion industry, we see a lot more people inclining towards setting up their own freelancing career and becoming their own boss. Well, freelancing does sound like a tempting path. But, is it that easy? Moreover, is it the right path right after graduation? Should you skip interning and jump to freelancing? Scroll below to seek these answers and more!
Before we begin, let’s start with the basics–are internships and freelancing even on the same level on the professional chart?
The simple answer is NO. While internships usually serve as a part of your learning experience in the professional space, freelancing is equivalent to a mix of employment and entrepreneurship. In other words, freelancing is working full-time but for yourself as a one-man-army. An internship, on the other hand, is more of a professional bedrock for someone new to the industry. What you study in your fashion school, course, and academy is professional-proofed here by applying all that knowledge in your work and learning a lot more.
So, while fashion design internships are beginners’ essentials, freelancing is not so much. Here is a clearer picture of the differences between them both with what they bring you and what they take away from you. Because let’s face it–every choice comes with its own set of pros and cons! Internship in Fashion
An internship is a temporary stint at one particular company or under a mentor/expert that serves to be an educational experience for the individual. This is where you can apply your learned knowledge to practical use and get much-needed exposure to the industry. This phase is usually the foundation of many professions and is considered almost necessary before kick-starting one’s actual career journey. Here are some advantages and disadvantages of fashion design internships.
Source: Devil Wears Prada Pros: - Industry insights - Industry exposure - Networking opportunities - Practical learning of the industry - Temporary commitment Cons:
- Unpaid or minimum stipend - May come with unmanageable deadlines
- May come with unmanageable work - Dealing with a range of different seniors and co-workers The bottom line is that no industry is easy and no internship is a cake-walk. Being an important point in your learning curve, it naturally comes with its own disadvantages and advantages. But then, what doesn’t? Every experience professionally or even personally comes with both pros and cons, and that’s completely okay.
A freelance fashion designer is basically a self-employed individual who is his own boss and makes all the rules. You decide what kind of clients you want to work for, what hours you want to dedicate to it, how you want to work and where. You control it all. But, unlike an internship where you come to gain experience, as a freelancer, you must already be equipped with enough of it. Since here, you are the whole business, you must be backed by some solid work experience, education, and of course, the right skills. Here are some advantages and disadvantages of freelancing. Pros: - Flexible hours - No commitment to only one company - Creative liberty and choice - Liberty to choose one’s clients and work Cons: - Financial instability - Lack of trust from clients - Management of all aspects like accounting, etc. - Lack of job security and its benefits So, freelancing also comes with its own set of pros and cons, but the bottom line here too, remains the same–it is not a cake-walk, neither is it easy to build a favourable and successful freelancing ecosystem and network. It takes work, commitment, and the right passion and aptitude. Nevertheless, it is certainly not to be confused with the role of an internship in a fashion career. While an internship comes early on in a career path, the other comes a little later on. But, if you’re still in the middle, wondering what is the correct path for you as soon as you cross the finish line at your college or school, here is something to help you. Begin with an Internship
Here’s what we suggest you go about carving out your career the right way, one smart move at a time. Before diving into the deets, remember that there is no ladder to success, it is all about patience and perseverance, so hold your horses and take it step by step. Speaking of that, here’s the first one!
Start with an internship. Once you’re fresh out of college, you’re open to polishing those skills and learning along with stronger experiences. And, that’s where fashion design internships come into play. Most academies, schools, or colleges help with giving you internship opportunities with their affiliated companies/designers. But, besides this as well, you can make use of the plethora of platforms like LetsIntern, Internshala, and of course, LinkedIn.
Before you start hunting, make sure you have the resources handy. By resources, we mean your CV and a portfolio of all your best work from your school projects. Pro tip: Also include some of your own free-style work that has the power to persuade, in that portfolio. Build your online profile on the aforementioned platforms, highlight your academic achievements and credentials, and start browsing through opportunities that fit the bill for you.
Another way to find the ideal internship AKA your dream internship is to reach out to companies, fashion houses, etc. on their LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, or emails with a polite message. Let that short and sweet text convey your fondness for the employer and your desire to work under them.
One way or another, make sure the internship you’re looking for is determined by your area of interest more than anything. Be open to learning new and practical skills, making mistakes and learning from them, and refining existing skills. More than anything, be ready to work hard to arm yourself with the right essentials for a successful future fashion career. Trust us, this foundation you build here can go a long way! Every experience counts.
Resort to Freelancing then
Only one internship is not enough. You need a few more experiences to be able to stump your flag as a freelancer. So, be ready to work and learn at a handful of internships/projects and perhaps, a job or two before being certain of joining the freelancing bandwagon. Because as easy as freelancing may sound, it really is not. The career path comes with a business acumen even though it isn’t exactly one. It comes with being skilled in not just your area of expertise but also other essentials like networking, client servicing, accounting, marketing, and more.
Source: fashionunited.uk So, build a fair foundation of experiences first, upon which you can then lay your groundwork for a freelancing career. Start with a project or two. Start with the familiar network, say an old co-worker or a professional you met at a job. Start in their familiar territory and make your way up slowly. Also, don’t forget to carve out your values and visions–your end goal with freelancing, where you hope to reach in say, five years, how many hours a day you are willing to dedicate, how many days a week you will be working, what your rates are like, etc. Define these things and set boundaries with clients from day 1 itself to be able to sustain in the industry, thriving and succeeding!