Finding an Internship in the Fashion Industry

A fashion designer working in their studio
••• Stephen Zeigler/The Image Bank/Getty Images

Internships in the fashion industry can be varied, and many are much less glamorous than they sound. As with most internships and entry-level jobs, new employees will have to initially complete menial tasks that may seem completely unrelated to the world of fashion.

Lowering your expectations when it comes to a fashion internship can make the experience more tolerable. It can also enhance the learning experience once you realize that there is a lot to learn before you can experience the excitement and glamor that characterizes the fashion world. This industry is one that must be learned from the ground up.

As a fashion intern, it is the experience you get in the field and the people you meet that make the internship most valuable. For example, art majors are often interested in pursuing a career in fashion. These students use their creativity to take a vision and turn it into a tangible product. Those with a flair for clothing, footwear, and accessory design, and who also have the patience, can land visible jobs and become noticed as designers as they build their networks and portfolios.

Fashion designers may choose to work for one fashion company and become an in-house designer, or they may decide to do freelance work and attract their own clientele. In addition to fashion design, students may select a career in fashion merchandising, marketing production, fashion journalism, or as a buyer for a large department store or small boutique.

Characteristics of Fashion Internships

There are many types of internships available in the industry, but here is a sample of some tasks and benefits found in internship listings:

  • Create original designs and engage in the creative process by starting out with a simple sketch and coming up with a finished product.
  • Learn the ins and outs of clothing, accessories, footwear lines, and how to keep up with the latest trends in the industry.
  • Learn how to select and combine fabric swatches, buttons, and any add-ons to create a unique design.
  • A fashion internship with an opportunity to visit production factories and see how they operate.
  • Learn more about the business side of the fashion industry.
  • A chance to assist with magazine photo shoots, fashion shows, and the new design launches.
  • An opportunity to work in showrooms that feature designer clothing lines and accessories sold to boutiques, department stores, and online.

Important Tips for the Fashion Intern

There are some things that you should know if you are pursuing a fashion internship. These include the following:

  • Fashion internships are generally unpaid.
  • Fashion industry websites offer both free and paid subscriptions for finding internships in the industry.
  • Check designer websites or research companies to see if they are currently offering fashion internships.
  • The majority of fashion internships are based on the east and west coast (New York City and Los Angeles).
  • Many employers in the industry will not consider applicants if they do not currently live in New York City or Los Angeles.
  • An internship in the field will give you an advantage over your competitors when it comes to employment. Without the experience and contacts that an internship can provide, finding a job in the business will be much more difficult or nearly impossible since there are so many people willing to accept almost any conditions for an opportunity to break into the industry.
  • When applying for an internship in fashion, be sure to tailor your cover letter and resume to exactly meet the requirements for the job or internship to which you are applying.