5 Career Tips for Fashion Business Internships
By: Namra Khan
Are you interested in a career in the fashion business? Here are some tips from a fashion student to maximize your potential when applying for internships.
Regardless of whether or not you live in a ‘fashion hub’, you can still get experience. Do you have a fashion blog where you express your style or show fashion projects? A website can be a great way for recruiters to learn more about you and see your skills and passion for the industry.
Do you have retail experience? Whether at a local boutique or department store-retail experience is key to understanding fashion trends, product assortment, consumer interaction, merchandising, and developing soft skills like having to work on a team.
Does your town have fashion weeks? Volunteering for fashion-related causes can show your multitasking skills working in apparel-related high-stress environments. These events can also be a great place to start meeting people in the industry. Additionally, see what programs you can participate in nearby. Programs like the Nordstrom Fashion Ambassador program (for high school students) help students get exposure to the fashion retail industry.
Technical skills are more than knowing a couple of cool tricks in Word. Spend some time learning about the skills you need by looking at specific internship descriptions or current intern LinkedIn profiles.
Many fashion business-related internships want interns who are proficient in Microsoft Office Suite, Adobe Suite, business email writing, and specific retail systems. I suggest taking Coursera, Linkedin Learning, and Google courses online to sharpen and prove these skills to companies. You may even want to show your ability to utilize these skills by incorporating them into the fashion projects on your website.
Resumes and cover letters
The nature of resumes and cover letters is often downplayed. Take note: a resume lists your skills and relevant experience, whereas a cover letter tells a convincing story about how your experience makes you a good fit for the position.
Your resume should have actionable statements. Each bullet point under a title should start with a verb and focus on how you alleviated a pain point for that company. Utilize numerical details like percentages or penetrations, depending on the nature of the role. In this way, listing that you were “responsible for increasing market penetration by 5% in XYZ region” on your resume gives you actionable proof in your cover letter when you claim to be ‘results-driven’.
Applying to larger fashion companies? Your resume is assessed by a computer before a human even sees it. Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) scan thousands of resumes for keywords—words and phrases that match those of the requirements in the job description. In order to get past the ATS, your resume needs to use these keywords at least 2-3 times. By copying and pasting a role’s description into a word cloud generator, you can find out what keywords will be the most effective.
LinkedIn and Networking
Linkedin: it’s like a professional Facebook. Linkedin is an important tool to put a face and personality to your application and to network your way to success. It also adds visibility and credibility to your internship application. How is that? Well, recruiters can easily find you once you’ve shared your profile with a job posting—you can share skills, projects, and quotes from previous team members on your profile. And it’s easy to find recruiters and HR managers in order to follow up on the status of your application and make your name more memorable in a pile of thousands.
Networking: ‘connecting’ on Linkedin can expand an existing professional relationship or start a completely new one. A rule of thumb for messaging new connections is to ask for small favors rather than big ones. For example, asking a new connection for the name of who to talk to at a company for a potential internship is much more polite than to ask for an email, or worse, for them to introduce you to someone. A key tip is to only ask for a favor after interacting with their profile (liking, commenting, or endorsing them for skills) at least 1-2 weeks prior. If you’re a student, connecting with alumni at aspirational companies can be a great strategy for getting introduced to HR managers who will be looking at your internship application.
There are plenty of blogs, websites, and Youtube channels that can provide you with professional information on how to get ahead in the fashion industry. Some of my favorites are Self Made Millenial-for all of your Linkedin, networking, resume, and interview needs. Glam Observer-a career advice website that offers valuable courses and articles about getting a career in fashion. And sites to find fashion internships like Fashionista.com and Stylecareers.com. Fashion favors self-starters and bold initiators, so don’t be afraid to get started!
If you’re interested in a fashion writing internship, apply to join our team of contributing writers here.