Since graduating from fashion marketing last spring I have interned at two separate public relations companies. The great thing about interning is that generally you do not have a specific position so you’re able to be hands on with different projects and help out in all different fields. The job that you’re doing tends to be less in depth than it would be if you were an actual employee, but you still get to have a taste for the field that you plan to be working in. Interning with a company lets you act as a fly on the wall. You’re able to see everything that goes on, you get first hand experience as to how the field really is and you can gain valuable knowledge for when you are actually working in that field. Generally speaking, your internship will be one of your first “real” jobs after finishing school.
My first internship was the first place to let me work autonomously and let me feel like I was trusted to get the job done on my own. I was given tasks that needed to be done then a deadline to have them done by. I wasn’t constantly watched or babysat. I was treated like an adult. It was a nice, refreshing feeling after years of retail work. The team was extremely welcoming and all took turns allowing me to help with varying tasks and teaching me small, yet important, tips and tricks. Everyone there seemed to be in exactly the field they were meant to be in and it made me feel like I was too. Being an intern lets you work alongside everyone and get to know exactly the strengths that they each possess that you want to emulate yourself. The owner had a “get shit done” attitude. She was dynamic and second to none. She knew exactly what needed to be done and was so perceptive it would take her less than a minute to look at every angle of a situation and know exactly what needed to be fixed, what needed to be changed to make sure that everything went off without a hitch. She was one of the strongest female entrepreneurs I had ever worked with. Though I wasn’t at my first internship for long, I can say that I left there with a better idea of what public relations really is and with an even bigger desire to find a job in that field and eventually build a business of my own.
My second internship was for almost six months. It was working there that concluded my decision that I wanted to work in public relations. I worked directly with the owner and she was open to teaching me everything about the business and answered every question I had. She had been working in the field for years and had both an answer and an example to every question that I had. She allowed me to help with projects for all of the clients and gave me solo projects. She didn’t care that I hadn’t done these things before, she happily showed me how to properly execute each task while still allowing me to do every one in my own way. She never made me feel like I was doing something wrong, even if I had. She turned every opportunity into a learning experience and after each completed project, big or small, I felt like I was walking away with knowledge gained. The team that I worked with was amazing and for the first time in a long time, I looked forward to going in to work. We celebrated any victories, and losses, together in humor and we had a funny, sarcastic environment that was great to work in. We were all so different, yet we blended together so well. Working in an all female team can sometimes lead to cattiness or bumping heads, but this team just blended together perfectly.
Interning I definitely learned hands on techniques and gained valuable experience. It solidified my choice to work in public relations, and working for two strong female entrepreneurs made me realize that that is exactly what I want to be. with all good however, comes the bad.
Both companies and bosses that I interned with were amazing. I valued my time there. The biggest downfall with interning however, is the lack of salary. I don’t know how other people work but when I am doing something that I really love and value, I put all my effort in to it. So being someone who lives on their own, pays for their own schooling and all of their own bills, it is extremely difficult to justify going in for 2-3 days a week to work for free when I have rent to pay every month. It is extremely difficult to rationalize informing my paying job that I am unavailable those days every week because I am going to work somewhere for free. Granted this free work will benefit me in the end and I will learn more there than I would at any temporary job, it is still one that I am giving my time and effort to that is not repaying me. It’s one of the unfortunate parts of wanting to work in fashion. People talk about having to “start at the bottom” and “pay your dues” which is totally fine. I don’t mind being the one to have to do the crappy work or that tasks no one wants to do. But asking to be paid the bare minimum in order to commit to a company that you are passionate about and excited to work for, seems like a fair enough exchange.