My friend and fellow-CEO, Alyson Roy, is a huge publicist in NYC. Aly and I met as interns at the NYU Summer dorms (of course!). Aly is one of my closest friends and we see each other everytime I’m in NYC. Aly always takes on some great fashion interns so I asked her to write a blog from the employer’s perspective on how to survive a fashion week PR internship. Enjoy!
At AMP3 PR, our Fashion Week PR internship is always a coveted one that brings in a flurry of eager applications from fashion-loving interns nationwide. While it is definitely an exciting internship filled with glitz and glamour, it is also a very short-term, fast-paced, cutthroat experience that can result in a career defining opportunity or an epic burnout. Here are my tips for surviving a Fashion Week internship, and making it count:
1) Be In it to win it. Right from the get-go the people-watching can be over-stimulating and majorly distracting, so don’t forget to keep your focus and remember why you’re doing this internship. Although it is easy to get overwhelmed and drained after Day 1, remind yourself that this is only a short-term internship and will be over in the blink of an eye, so you have to stay on your game and spend each moment concentrating on how you can leave the best impression possible. Having Fashion Week-specific experience on your resume gives you a huge boost when applying for jobs in the real world. Fashion PR agencies love to hire people who have firsthand experience.
2) Be practical. Yes, those 6-inch heels will look fabulous, but during Fashion Week, everything is all about timing, and I promise you, if you are asked to get from the check-in desk to the backstage line-up in 60 seconds flat, they will slow you down, and your supervisor will notice. Instead, swap out the stilettos for a comfortable pair of flats, or if you must have the height, a pair of wedges, and don’t test drive a new pair, be sure to wear a favorite pair that are tried, tested and true. Since you’re forced to keep your feet subdued, instead make a splash with a statement necklace (or any other accessories that will compliment your all black PR uniform) so that you can still express your flare for fashion.
3) Be sustainable. You should always assume that time to eat and drink during Fashion Week will be limited, and you should plan ahead by packing your own stash just in case. The main key is to hydrate often and to eat something every 3 hours, even if it’s just a granola bar or a banana, to keep from hitting a wall by the afternoon. At the end of the night, although you may be offered a celebratory glass of champagne or access to an exclusive party (for our 21 & over interns, that is), kindly say no, get your beauty rest and come back ready to kill it again in the morning. You will avoid over-extending yourself or making any bad impressions. You need to treat your body like a temple so that you can keep that smile on your face for what is likely to be a string of action-packed 10-hour days. Bonus tip: taking vitamins, drinking Emergen-C, and loading up on hand sanitizer will also do you good when you are shaking hands with all kinds of new people (February Fashion Week is notoriously linked to flu season, and once one of us goes down, we all go down).
4) Be solution-oriented. Never come to your supervisor with a problem or reasons why a certain task or idea won’t work. Instead, always approach your boss with creative ideas that WILL work. Coming to your higher-up to ask approval for a solution that could potentially be saving them from a PR or event-related disaster will not go unnoticed and will help you be identified as a valuable team member. By approaching problems with a positive can-do attitude, you will paint yourself as a resourceful job candidate.
5) Create value. In advance, ask your supervisor if there are any social media guidelines surrounding the client’s runway show and if it would be ok to share some images on your Twitter, Instagram and/or Facebook. If the answer is yes, study up on the handles of all the relevant designers & sponsors, and ask what #hashtags you should include. By creating shareable content, you create social media value, and you could also take initiative by offering to share your pics on the agency’s social media accounts. Chances are, the publicists are too busy to tend to the company social media during Fashion Week, and this is another way that you could create value while you’re just standing around in between jobs.
6) Take inventory, quickly. When all is said and done, be sure to recap the skills you learned on the job. Make a bulleted list of all the tasks that were delegated to you throughout fashion week, such as: managing the door list, helping with the seating chart, facilitating backstage interviews, coordinating gift bags, social media management, etc. Hang on to this list of skills and save it wherever you keep your resume and cover letter. Then, when you’re asked in a job interview 6 months later what kind of experience you gained during Fashion Week, you’ll have all the industry buzzwords at your fingertips and will impress upon your future employer that you absolutely had an inside look at the inner workings of Fashion Week.