We were lucky enough to collaborate with fashion and lifestyle blogger Sophia for our very first Big Talks events back in 2018. During the panel section of the talk, Sophia offered her advice to aspiring bloggers and talked about collaborating with top brands as well as her work experience and how that benefitted her career now. As part of our intern’s insight series we caught up with Sophia once more, this time to ask her about her own experience as an intern.
So, let’s start off with a little introduction! My name is Sophia Rosemary and I’m a blogger from Manchester. Truth be told I’ve only actually been blogging for the past five years and still feel like a newbie but prior to this I worked in and studied fashion for well over ten years, (wow I feel old). I started my fashion journey studying International Fashion Marketing and went on to work in Buying/Merchandising for a number of years before finally finding my feet in blogging. One of the main questions I get asked is how I started my career and got where I am today. There is one simple answer to this question – experience! Lots and lots of experience! Landing your dream job can often seem like a million miles away when you’re studying but – at the risk of sounding a little cliché – with enough determination it’s more than possible and well within your grasp. Interning is a crucial step to finding your way into the perfect career and one I would always advise taking. With the help of the amazing team at Vita I’ve put together some of the most frequently asked internship related questions, my answers and honest thoughts. Hopefully they will guide you along a little and give you the inspiration you need to search for that all-important experience.
You’ve worked as an intern for numerous companies. How did you manage to secure those opportunities?
I think it’s important to be brutally honest here and say internships won’t be handed to you directly on a plate. You’ve got to put the leg work in and get yourself out there! It’s all about networking, finding the right contacts and sending out as many emails as possible. I started out making a list of brands I’d love to work for and then simply trawled through the internet for contacts. Even if it’s not exactly the right contact, more often than not you’ll be put in the right direction! The more emails the better, not everyone will reply so please don’t set your heart on one brand and one brand only. Keep your options open! Speak to your tutors and career counsellors, they’ve been working in the industry for years and may have some invaluable contacts for you too. And lastly – one of the greatest ways I landed myself an internship was through my part time retail job! Why not speak to your manager and get the conversation started about helping out within head office? If anything, it’s a credit to you and your commitment to the brand, plus you’ll have a head start because you’ll know their product/consumers inside out! Win-win!
What was it that attracted you to interning?
I honestly believe interning is such a proactive and positive use of your time! Not only will it provide invaluable working knowledge but it gives you first-hand experience of the industry you want to work in! You’ll gain a better understanding of the different areas within the industry and what daily working life could be like for you. More importantly it actually gives you a much clearer indication of what you want. You may decide that this isn’t the industry for you but through interning you’ve discovered another area you prefer! You’ll never know what’s right for you until you give it a try and for me this is why interning is always advisable.
What was the interview process like?
Every interview is different and every brand will have something unique they look for. I was super lucky that most of mine were very casual which lifted the pressure ever so slightly. I think as long as you’ve done your research on the brand and you have a clear understanding of their values then you’re all set (please don’t start reeling the brands history back to them – they already know it and it looks unnatural. You’re not Wikipedia!). Don’t be afraid to show how passionate you are about both your career and their company. Confidence really is key and having a bit of self-assurance goes along way!
What were your responsibilities as an intern?
Prepare yourself for a lot of admin work and don’t be disheartened when your internship doesn’t start life smack bang in the job role you’re aspiring for. Although some tasks can be low level to begin with, it’s always better to start at the bottom. I know it sounds silly but in later life you’ll be glad to have a clear understanding of the industry from start to finish. I did a lot of shadowing and taking on board the tasks my team were undertaking on a daily basis. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and offer a hand where possible, being keen in the workplace isn’t a bad thing (it’s not a date, it’s your career). I think the more you put yourself out there and ask for work, the more tasks you’ll be given in the future. This is turn means more experience!
Have you been able to transfer any of the skills you learnt as an intern into your work now?
Yes! Absolutely! From starting out at intern level to moving right up in my career, I feel like you’re always learning and that’s super important. Interning teaches you the bare bones of the industry and gets you into the rhythm of working within an office environment. It teaches you to work more independently and use initiative where possible. Interning gave me great organisational skills and taught me about managing my workload and delegating myself tasks.
Do you think the experience was a valuable one? Has it ultimately helped you in getting to where you are now?
Any experience is worth it. Even if you didn’t enjoy it, it will have taught you what you DON’T want from your career and most importantly what you DO want! It’s a quick-fire way of getting to grips with the industry you aspire to work in and it gives you the confidence you need to work hard at getting where you want to be. If you did enjoy it, well that’s even better! Now you’ll have the determination to keep pushing for the best career for you. As you get further into your career, you’ll start to see how important the experience you’ve acquired is! Every brand/business works differently and no two internships are directly the same but the skills you’ll gain from each one will definitely be transferable in a number of different areas. Above all interning with several different companies has given me a vague understanding of the variety of ways an industry can and does work.
So, there you have it, my list of important questions to consider and how I would personally answer them! I hope my answers have helped you guys in understanding how interning works, how to look for opportunities and how much they can truly help you onto the career ladder of your dreams! Interning might be a little hard work but it doesn’t have to be scary and most importantly it doesn’t have to be impossible.