If you’ve ever read a fashion magazine, chances are something deep within you tugged at your sleeve and inspired you to work in the industry. The glamour, the makeup, the eccentric characters, and let’s not forget, the skyscraper heels – what’s not to love?
To further your quest into fashionista success, you’ve probably also hit Google and perused freefashioninternships.com, the web’s most visited fashion internship database. I caught up with the site’s founder, Carla Isabel Carstens, for a sneak peak into the history of her site and how to be fashion internship forward.
MM: Tell me what spawned the idea for a fashion internship blog and how it flourished into the freefashioninternships.com website.
CC: I had been interning and realized there was no resource online that compiled listings that were free to students. Every site I found required a membership fee, so I decided to create a blog. In less than two years, the site became the premiere site for internship listings, and I recently created additional sites such as FreeBeautyInternships.com, FreeEntertainmentInternships.com and FreeMusicInternships.com to help students find internships in other fields.
MM: I found one of my fashion writing internships on your site so I feel particularly connected to it. Can you share some other success stories? In general, what kind of response are you generating from users?
CC: That is great! I consider myself a success story from the website. I created the site while I was an intern and have been working in PR since graduating college.
MM: Describe the process involved in posting an internship. Do you find clients or do clients find you?
CC: The clients come to me. I work full-time in public relations and am in the process of getting a Master’s, so I have very limited time to spend on the site. I am so thankful for all the companies who use my site!
MM: Your extensive database of internships makes finding the dream job so accessible, but because your site earns almost 90,000 views a month, it seems like everyone has their eye on the same prize. How can an aspiring fashionista stand out from other applicants?
CC: A cover letter. You wouldn’t believe how many applicants do not customize their cover letter to address the needs of the position, or don’t send one at all. Speak to your strengths that are relevant to the position and you will stand out among the rest.
MM: You’ve interned at some big names like Gucci and Escada. What crucial lessons did you learn throughout your experience at these companies? How have they prepared you for where you want to be in the future?
CC:I learned that you need to be motivated. You can’t wait for the work to come to you. Be proactive and bring ideas to the table. Also, dress appropriately. As cute as your 5″ heels are, they probably won’t feel cute after running a few errands for your boss. Internships prepare you for your future in that they give you a peek into what your day-to-day life will be like. That’s why I think it is so important to intern in different aspects of the field. I interned in editorial, wholesale, styling and design, but felt most connected to PR.
MM: The fashion field is so multifaceted. From design, to production, to marketing, to public relations, it seems as though fashion is a world of its own. Yet, for many of us, it’s difficult to land our first gig. What are some tips to get your foot in the door?
CC: Don’t be shy and use your contacts! Your old bosses will be in the know of potential positions, and if you did a great job, it is likely they will recommend you.
Marissa Miller is a Health and Fashion Writer at College Lifestyles who studies Journalism and Creative Writing at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada. In an omega 3-filled nutshell, she is a die-hard nail polish and salad enthusiast hoping to pursue a career in health journalism.