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 often not as glamorous as they sound. Like with many internships and jobs that sound exciting, interns and new employees may start out doing menial tasks that may initially seem unrelated to the world of fashion.

Knowing upfront that a fashion internship may not be glamorous can make the experience much more tolerable and a valuable learning experience once you realize it's what it takes to get started. Fashion, like many industries, requires that those interested in the field will have to take their time and learn the industry from the ground up.

As a fashion intern, it will be the experience you get in the field, and the people you meet that will make the internship most valuable. Art majors are often interested in pursuing a career in fashion. These are students who enjoy using their creativity to take a vision and turn it into a tangible product. Students with a flair for clothing, footwear, and accessory design need to also possess the patience it takes to gain the knowledge and experience to get good in the field, get themselves hired, and then become noticed as a designer.

Fashion designers may choose to work for one fashion company or become an in-house designer, or they may decide to do freelance work and create their own clientele where they will design fashion and fashion-related products for customers. In addition to fashion designers, there are also other careers that those interested in fashion may go into. Students may decide that they are interested in fashion merchandising, marketing production, fashion journalism, and various other parts of the business such as becoming a buyer for a large department store or small boutique.

Perks of Fashion Internships

There are many types of internships available in the industry and here are some common tasks found in 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 can provide 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 launching of new designs.
  • An opportunity to work in showrooms that feature designer clothing lines and accessories that are sold to boutiques, department stores, and online.

Important Tips for the Fashion Intern

  • Fashion internships are generally unpaid.
  • Fashion industry websites offer both free and paid subscriptions for finding internships in the industry.
  • Students should check out their favorite designers to see if there are current fashion internships being offered.
  • The majority of fashion internships exist on the east and west coast (New York City and Los Angeles).
  • Many employers in the industry will not consider applicants if they don’t currently live in NYC or LA.
  • An internship in the field will put you at the top of your game. If you have no experience or contacts in the field, the road to finding a job in the business will be much more difficult or nearly impossible since competition is fierce and there are so many people that will do almost anything to get into the business.
  • When applying for an internship in fashion, be sure to target your cover letter and resume to meet the qualifications.