After six months interning, doing an amount of work that is way above the lowly title of 'intern' - not to mention the pay grade - I have officially assumed my new permanent role of Digital Content and Social Editor. And I am proper chuffed. As if that wasn't enough, last week I was lucky enough to travel with work to Milan during MFW for my first project, running social media channels for the week, and even launching Snapchat for my brand. Yes, that is a job now. Seeing as I have technically only been in this role for two weeks, an admittedly short period of time, I have been reflecting on how incredible my first proper experience in the working world has been in its entirety, from Intern to Editor.
I've always considered myself lucky that I know the path I want my career to take; even this is a reason to feel blessed, as I know the vast majority of graduates leave uni feeling even more clueless than when they started. I am one of the lucky ones. But most importantly, being an intern opened my eyes to the opportunities I have embraced (and in some cases rightly avoided), and how they have all guided me to where I am now. And for anyone who is in the same position I was in after graduating one year ago - ambitious, driven, yet considerably inexperienced in the ways of the working world - I have shared 5 things I learnt from being an Intern that helped me get to being an Editor.
1. Don't settle for anything. When you're newly graduated and no longer have the safety net of a student loan to fall back on, your top priority will be to earn a quick buck. But you shouldn't lower your standards. About eight months ago I was considering an internship at a well-known fashion designer, and even though the job role was titled 'Digital Intern' I would have literally been wrapping and packaging the online orders for 9 hours a day. Having the designer's name on my CV was definitely appealing, but the thought of mindlessly folding clothes everyday was not. Don't take the first thing that comes because, like it was for me, something better will probably be right around the corner!
2. There is a difference between work experience and an internship. The fashion designer internship I mentioned above was unpaid, which would have meant I would work Monday to Friday as well as weekends in retail just to supplement my living - correction, probably just my travel. It just wasn't worth it. However, a three week unpaid work experience placement might be - we all have to start from somewhere, so definitely consider work experience, especially if you want to sample a few different industries before committing to a more permanent role. Having said this, anything over three weeks and you should definitely be classified as an intern, and be financially treated as such.
3. Make the most of every opportunity. Once you have that work placement, internship or other, make the most of it. From adding everyone you meet on LinkedIn (without being creepy), to saying yes to any opportunity that arises. I spent a morning 'modelling' some of our jewellery pieces for our PR team to share with a stylist we were hoping to accessorise; something that will probably never happen again, but that really opened my eyes to the nature of the relationship between brands and influencers - a great (albeit incredibly awkward) experience!
4. Network. This is definitely the 'buzz word' of the YoPro generation. Even though my colleagues all work in the same industry now, they definitely didn't always in the past. People end up in jobs in the weirdest ways, from pure coincidences to drastic life-changing choices, but you might just find that one person who has that one contact in that one industry that you are working towards. I once served a customer when I worked in Topshop and proceeded to look them up on LinkedIn later that day and message them for career advice - all they wanted was a pair of shoes, and instead they got an amateur stalker... Ask questions, express your interest, and hope for the best - people are a lot more eager to give you a step up in the world than you might think!
5. Be open-minded. My first ever internship two years ago was a leap of faith - I was a Digital Intern at an online luxury jewellery website, didn't have a clue what I was doing, but it was good pay and I wanted some sort of experience. Long story short: I loved it, I networked, after graduation I got in touch with my then-manager who mentioned an internship at her new workplace, and now here I am. Basically, all of the above put into practise. But in reality getting that first internship was a pure coincidence, and I just so happened to fall in love with my first work experience - again, I was lucky. Be open-minded, because the most unexpected job could be the most suitable and enjoyable for you.
Do you have any advice for those of us who are just entering the big and scary working world?!
Photography: Yuebi Yang
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