The Ultimate Guide to Fashion Internships: 7 Things You Need to Know

Hayley Veal

Hayley Veal

Content Specialist,
440 industries

Introduction

Whether you are still studying a degree in school, having just graduated, or you are looking to break into the fashion industry, you might be wondering how to gain entry-level experience to start building a successful career for yourself. Fashion internships are an excellent way to do this!

Completing a fashion internship is a perfect step toward your dream of working in the fashion industry. Spending time working in different internship positions in the fashion industry will help you decide what exactly you like about the industry and build a valuable list of contacts that can point you in the right direction towards a job.

Continue reading our Ultimate Guide to Fashion Internships: Planning for Your Career in The Fashion Industry to learn about what fashion internships exactly are, why they are important, potential career pathways, and how to nail the internship interview.

  1. What is a Fashion Internship & Why it is Valuable
  2. What You Will Do
  3. Skills You Need
  4. What You Need Before Applying
  5. Tips for Getting A Fashion Internship with No Experience
  6. How To Nail A Fashion Internship Interview
  7. What Happens After You Get the Job
  8. Conclusion

1. What is a Fashion Internship & Why it is Valuable

An internship is a work opportunity offered by companies for students (usually, but not always) to gain some entry-level introductions to a specific industry or field over the span of a couple of weeks to months.
A fashion internship allows a student to gain hands-on experience in the fashion industry. There are training opportunities available with fashion publications, fashion designers, fashion stores, or other businesses operating in the fashion industry.

Fashion internships are by no means limited to design-focused positions. There are a number of opportunities for interns interested in fashion marketing, supply chain, financial analysis and more! Later, we’re going to discuss the range of internships and future career opportunities.

Why are fashion internships important? 

  • Fashion internships give valuable experience for those who have never worked in the field or are still studying: While it’s not required for many university majors, completing a fashion internship is important for your career because it gives you real-world experience and helps you to get your foot in the door of the fashion industry. You’ll be able to build both hard and soft skills, as well as have the opportunity to form valuable relationships with established brands and designers who can help you earn an entry-level position at the conclusion of your internship.

  • Fashion internships are a great opportunity to learn what you DON’T like about the fashion industry: Maybe you find you don’t like designing fashion pieces, but you love to design marketing advertisements and materials. Or, maybe you find that while learning about the product sourcing side of fashion, you find you want a future position in fashion supply chain management. The opportunities are endless, and internships are a good way to start exploring them.

2. What You Will Do in A Fashion Internship

Before beginning your internship search, you should have an idea of which area of the fashion industry you’d like to explore. For students, this will most likely be something that aligns with your degree coursework. For others, you might consider an area that interests you or where you have strong skills in.

Some fashion internship duties may include…

  • Recording clothing inventory
  • Purchasing textiles and materials
  • Working to promote a brand
  • Assisting with sewing and pattern creation
  • Setting up a merchandise line
  • Conducting research on season trends
  • Helping with photoshoots

Some interns may also complete administrative tasks, like answering phones, picking up coffee, or delivering materials.

  • What can you learn from a fashion internship?  Besides the technical skills needed for your future fashion career, you will also learn how to navigate the industry and work together in a team. Additionally, you’ll be engrossed in the world of fashion which will help you progress your knowledge of how to manage fashion projects effectively and work within the fashion supply chain. This will help improve your time management and organizational skills.

     

  • What career paths can your fashion internship you down? The wonderful thing about the fashion industry is how versatile it can be. Whether you’re a savvy, stylish designer who has an eye for accessory collections, or you are an analytical specialist with a knack for identifying upcoming trends for the season, there is an internship position (and future career!) out there for you.

Check out our career trajectory infographic to see some examples of internship, entry-level, mid-level, and senior-level positions in the fashion industry.

Aside from looking for internships that you’re familiar with and align with prior educational experience, it’s important to focus on those that meet your unique skillsets. Read along to the section to learn more!

3. Skills You Need

Let us learn about some of the important qualities and skills to have that will help you land any fashion internship and succeed.

  • Creative Mindset: Interns in a design internship need to have a creative outlook on their work. Even if you do not end up in a design internship, this skill is still important to have, especially having an eye for visually appealing materials. The intern’s sense of style can influence even written marketing materials and promotional advertisements. 

  • Illustrating Skills: Interns in a design internship must have basic illustrating skills to sketch out potential styles and fashion event layouts.

  • Understanding of Texture, Color, and Quality Fabric: All fashion interns, whether they are wanting to work in media, design, merchandising, or supply chain should understand the basics of fabric quality, textures, and complementary colours. Being able to talk professionally and knowledgeably with customers and fashion coworkers about these product features is important.

  • Visualization Skills: When working with clothes, you have to be able to visualize what the finished product/collection/display will look like so you can strategize appropriately. This is a great skill for future visual merchandisers to have.

  • Knowledge and Interest in Current Fashion Trends: Being aware of current fashion trends and events will help offer insightful input when making decisions or brainstorming new ideas. This is how fashion brands stay competitive. 
  • Other Useful Skills to Have:
    • Communication & interpersonal skills
    • Ability to thrive in a team environment
    • Being competitive while remaining professional
    • If going into a finance or supply chain-related area of the fashion industry, strong math, forecasting, and complex problem-solving skills are a plus

Why should you apply to fashion internships based on your skillset?

  • Not only will you have a higher success rate with your applications, but you will also be performing and perfecting job tasks that you have been preparing for. The skills listed above are very important to employers, and matter regardless of which fashion field you’re working in. The fashion industry is competitive but your experiences along with the skills you possess will differentiate you to stand out.  Now that we’ve covered the different skills to have for the various responsibilities you will undertake in fashion internships, let’s take a look at what you need before applying!

4. What You Need Before Applying for a Fashion Internship

 After you’ve found the perfect internship that you qualify for, you are going to want to submit your application with the following:

  1. Résumé: A fashion resume differs from a typical resume as it is the first example of your creative work in which your creative skills will be evaluated.

Items to Include on Résumé

  • Fashion related degrees and certificates
  • Relevant past work experiences & projects
  • Link to your online portfolio
  • Memberships to professional organizations
  • Details of your social media channels devoted to fashion
  • Applicable skills and competencies
  1. Cover Letter: While a strong and succinct résumé can help move your application from an endless pit to the top of the stack, it’s a fantastic cover letter that will get you pulled from that stack and brought in for that sought-after interview.

How to Write Your Cover Letter

  • Address the internship hiring supervisor
  • Do not regurgitate your résumé
  • Tailor it to the internship you are applying for
  • Reference 1 or 2 past experiences/qualifications that showcase why you are perfect for the position
  • Talk about your unique skillset 
  1. Portfolio of Past Work: Depending on the internship, you may be required to submit a portfolio of your work, or a collection of samples put together to show off skills to a prospective employer.

Items to Include in Portfolio

  • Mood boards
  • Fashion illustrations and rough hand sketches
  • Digital fashion flats
  • Technical sketches
  • Photos of finished garments
  1. A Second Reader: Always have someone proofread your application materials before submitting. By having a second pair of eyes or even conducting a digital spell check, you can spot mistakes before your hiring manager does. Something as seemingly insignificant as a typo may result in a dismissal of your application.

If you find that you have little or no prior experience to list on these application materials, do not worry. In the section we are going to cover tips to gain experience and differentiate yourself for the best chance of landing the internship.

5. Tips for Getting A Fashion Internship with No Experience

If you are entering the fashion industry with minimal background experience, you may be wondering how you will be able to apply to an internship that interests you. Of course, you will likely compete against candidates that have some background or experience in the fashion industry, but this does not mean they will automatically be offered a position before you. It will involve a little extra work, but we know that you have the motivation and hard work ethic to do it!

Here are our tips for applying when you have no experience:

  • Keep learning: There is a wealth of fashion knowledge on the internet. Keep up with the latest news and trends to stay informed. This might seem insignificant, but by doing this, you will be introduced to more opportunities, and you’ll be able to show your future internship site that you are knowledgeable in the industry.

  • Consider starting out small: Apply to smaller brands when you are starting out. Your chances of getting hired are much higher and you can use it as an opportunity to get your foot in the door before aiming for those larger players.

  • Complete a side project/job that differentiates you from competitors: Not only will this make you stand out from the competition, but also shows you have dedicated time to pursue something that interests you. Examples of side projects and jobs include blogs, personal websites, YouTube channels, eCommerce stores, writing about the latest trends, etc.

  • Look into online education: If starting a blog or YouTube channel does not sound like an option for you, research what online qualifications are available. Check out online courses that offer certifications or training in specific areas of the fashion industry.

It doesn’t matter if you are applying to one of the leading fashion houses or an up and coming brand to-be-watched. All internship hiring managers and supervisors look for key things during the interview. Read ahead to find out how to nail your next fashion internship interview.

6. How To Nail A Fashion Internship Interview

Nailing the interview for your fashion internship involves more than just discussing your responsibilities and accomplishments from experiences in the past. It’s a chance to show how much you know about the company you’re wanting to join, prove how educated you are about the industry as a whole, and test how well you could work with the people on your future team.

Below are some tips for making a great impression and getting your dream internship!

  • Introduce yourself: Introduce yourself to any person you meet at the company. Not only will this make you more memorable, but it will also show that you are outgoing and sociable. Perfect skills for working in teams, which you will often be doing in fashion internships.

  • Be on time: If your interviewer has scheduled a time to meet with you, you want to be respectful of their time and be there when expected. Doing so will demonstrate responsibility and time management skills.

  • Dress appropriately: Make sure you look presentable and ready to go for your interview. You can use this as an opportunity to show off your professional sense of style!

  • Ask questions: This is your chance to clarify any confusion about the position or receive answers to interesting questions. It also shows you have an interest in the brand.

  • Do your research: Familiarize yourself with the brands values and visions and take notes. You will want to look at their online platforms to get a feel for the how the company operates and who works in leadership positions. What are their plans for the next year? What advice would you give? What can you learn from the brand? Be prepared to answer a range of creative questions.

  • Use examples: Highlight key examples to demonstrate how you applied your fashion knowledge and skills to solve a problem or complete a project in prior work experience.

  • Express enthusiasm: You made it a step further in the hiring process. This is exciting! Relax, smile, and be present.

7. What Happens After You Get The Job

As we presented in our infographic, the internship entails for a lot of work, but also a lot of opportunities. In order to maximise your chances of career progression, during the internship, there are a few things to bear in mind.

  • Be friendly and personable.  As an intern, you’ll get to explore and “see” a company from the inside out. It is really important, as you are the “new addition to the team” to make sure you can work with everyone and do your best to get along with everyone. In the first few weeks you’ll meet a lot of new people, and showing enthusiasm and participation to the firm’s efforts is going to make you fit in much faster.

  • Learn about company culture. There are a lot of unspoken rules, traditions, values and principles – along with stories and backgrounds about the firm’s upbringing – which are an integral part of a company’s culture. Learning about these values will show that you are a perceptive and attentive individual, who is able to see the single task at hand, as well as the bigger picture. 

We all need to remember that firms and brands, aside from their logos and buildings, as still a collection of people, and being able to work and communicate efficiently is something that can really help you establish great professional relationships that can propel your career further. 

Conclusions

Completing a fashion internship is your first step to gaining valuable real-world work experience to list on your resume and discuss with future employers. We know the fashion industry can be very competitive at times. By following these steps, you’ll be sure to set yourself up for success and get one step closer to landing an awesome internship:

  • Seek positions that are most relevant to your background, skillsets, and interests
  • Include key items in your resume and cover letters, such as certifications and relevant work experiences
  • Make a lasting impression by following interviewing best practices and ask engaging questions
  • Provide specific examples demonstrating your knowledge of the fashion industry and how you utilized this knowledge to solve a problem or complete a project.

We hope you found these tips and recommendations useful. Best of luck to you on your fashion internship journey!

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Hayley Veal

Hayley Veal

Hayley Veal is a passionate and results-driven professional with a background in interdisciplinary marketing. She specializes in digital presence, brand development, and customer relationship management.

As an honors graduate from the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, Hayley is currently working towards her MBA where she is focusing on digital business innovation. Her mission is to help people bridge the gap between creative and financial spheres in order to optimize value creation for their businesses.

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