Media, and Creativity Career Panel:

by Izzy Hermelin

The Key Takeaways

It is no secret that making a name for yourself in the fashion industry can be difficult. Following the co-hosted MFMS x Michigan Ross Retail Club (RRC) “Fashion, Media, and Creativity Career Panel” on January 15th, we are here to share some of the advice we received from University of Michigan students who have had the opportunity to intern for prestigious companies in the fashion, media, and techn industries. Among the panelists, companies like Condé Nast, Chanel, Nordstrom, Google, and William Morris Endeavor (WME) were represented. Here are some of our biggest takeaways from the event:

1. Network, Network, Network

Although it might be intimidating to put yourself out there, emailing, cold calling, direct messaging on social media outlets, or simply sparking a conversation with a fellow employee is an integral way to make a strong first impression and get your foot in the door. This lesson does not only pertain to the fashion industry, but to any business space or job that you may be interested in. Demonstrating that kind of confidence shows determination that any potential boss would be impressed with. To settle the voice telling you “do not put yourself out on a limb and be vulnerable,” remind yourself that you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Be your own advocate. The worst outcome of this situation is “No” or simply being ignored. On the contrary, the benefits could be what differentiates you from another applicant and provides you the job. It does not matter if you have a connection to a business or not, this lesson is universal to both receiving and maintaining an internship.

2. Figure Out How to Utilize Your Downtime

Let’s be honest, internships are full of downtime. To combat feeling unproductive, you have a few options. You could scroll through the internet to pretend to be busy,  or foster stronger relationships with your team and others in the business. During the event, panelists were asked, “if you could change anything about your journey, what would you do differently?” Many of the students responded that they would change how they utilized their free time. One former intern wished he had built a stronger relationship with his co-workers and fellow interns. Another said that she wished she had offered to help when she saw her team was busy working on multiple tasks. Helping on a project or in a role that may not be directly assigned to you shows that you are invested in the company as a whole. Aiding another team is also a great strategy to test if you are interested in another sector in the workplace and spark a new interest.

3. It’s Not Always Glamorous, But You Will Learn

There is a negative stigma about working in the fashion industry that it is all “glitz and glam” and the worst thing that happens is that someone breaks a nail *gasp. * This is not true. The Miranda Priestly’s of the world exist, but they are not in Prada. The fashion industry is not very glamorous. A previous intern that worked for Condé Nast shared stories of her experience organizing socks in trunks for hours on end and then having to carry and rearrange the trunks. Along the same thread, the student that worked for WME started in the mailroom. That’s not our definition of glamorous to say the least. Although these tasks are not ideal, the interns did not complain. Instead, they shared praise of the lessons they gained through this seemingly tedious work; these mundane tasks were instrumental to the learning process, and for that, these interns are forever grateful for these experiences. In order to get to the top, you need to climb your way up from the very bottom.

Brian Zhao