This post is part one in my series of Internship posts. This will be my how-to guide on getting Internships in the creative/media industries such as Beauty, Fashion and Public Relations (PR). I'm not claiming to be an expert but I do know how hard it is to find internships but I have managed to find work experience/Internships at various places over the last few years.
My best advice and the way that I have seen the majority of the Internships I have applied for and that I have posted on the Internships page is through Twitter. The best advice I can give you is to create a Twitter profile (or use your current one) and go through and follow absolutely everyone from the industry you want to work in. So, not just @CosmopolitanUK you follow @stylaura (Fashion assistant) @claresmith84 (Junior fashion stylist) @Hollycooop (Fashion assistant) @Shellyvela (Fashion Director) @Saireysmile (Fashion director) @Charlottta (Fashion Manager) @Pat_McNulty (Cosmopolitan.co.uk Editor)- you catch my drift? Then see who each person is following - they'll probably be following other people in the industry so scroll down and follow anyone you're not following - if the editor of Vogue or the beauty director of a PR company is following someone - they're probably worth following! Twitter is an absolutely invaluable tool for networking and researching. (P.S This twitter @UKFashionIntern has really good fashion internships)
I have to add here, DON'T BOMBARD THESE PEOPLE WITH TWEETS! The reason for following them is that it's infinitely more likely that if 'Alex Smith' from 'Womans Living' (made that up, evidently i'm not very imaginative but stay with me) needs an Intern or knows that the beauty/fashion desk or that the girls on the Revlon/Wella or nutrition accounts (whatever) need an Intern or an assistant then they'll probably send out a quick tweet asking you to email over a CV. It's these rare and usually missed tweets that offer you a much better chance of getting in contact with someone as opposed to randomly sending out blanket emails to mailto:'Dearwork.experiemce@magazine/prcompanyname.com'. Also, the more people you follow and engage with the more likely you are to see someone Retweet an internship or for someone to suggest one to you.
There is no harm in sending the usual 'blanket' emails to every and all PR companies or magazines because you never know. But I'm just going to warn you now, you probably wont hear back. I've applied to every magazine going and have never, ever secured work experience that way. My experience at More has come from being part of the More Hot 100, (I'll expand later but it just shows how hobbies/interests can do wonders for your CV and job prospects!) not through emailing magazines directly. However, I eventually managed to get work experience so the key is to a) be determined b) start early and don't give up. It might take one or two years before you finally get somewhere and that is the truth but if it's your dream career then don't give up and be prepared for lots of rejections or even worse, just being ignored! Remember you can't start at the top. You don't start at Marie Claire and Vogue!!! You can't be upset because Vogue doesn't want a first year drama student with no previous magazine work experience but 'has a blog', or a PR company which specialises in high end clients when you're a second year philosophy student whose worked at New Look for four years. You need to start gaining experience in any way you can - definitely start a blog about whatever interests you, keep a portfolio of any work you do and remember to set your sights lower down at smaller magazines or supplements (for example, Zest Magazine or Psychologies) before you apply for the big dogs.
Don't pester. It's not possible for a PR company to say 'yes' to everyone who replies to their tweet about needing a Fashion PR Intern and nor is it possible for 40 people a week to fit into the Grazia fashion cupboard - it just isn't feasible. I suggest that if you don't here anything back from a 'standard' (firstname.lastname@example.orgemail@example.com) email - forget about it. Apply to other things and come back to that company in a few months. If you've emailed someone who tweeted about an Internship, send them a quick tweet ljust letting them know you've emailed them. If you do not get a tweet back in response or an email then assume you haven't been successful this time.
I originally applied for my Lancome internship when they were advertising for an Easter internship - the dates didn't work but they said they'd keep my CV on file and contact me in the future if anything came up. Not all companies that say this actually do this and of course they can't get back to everyone, but they really do try and Lancome is a great example of a company actually keeping a CV on file! Lancome emailed me a few weeks later offering me dates in the summer which I could do. So don't be disheartened if it turns out you can't do the dates proposed originally, the position is filled or someone currently has more experience than you - you've made contact and that will be really useful further down the road.
With regards to cover letters I am really no expert, as i've said, i've been ignored or rejected more times than successful! I do know that common courtesy suggests trying to find the name of the person you're writing to (Not dear sir'madam if you can help it). I'd always include the name of the PR company/publication and a few sentences about why you like it and why you want to work there. If it's a PR company - what stunt have you loved that they've recently done? Or are they fab at social media- or do they represent a brand you love? With a magazine - what features do you like AND WHY. Include any relevant experience - even if it's not academic - for example your blog. I always include mine when I apply for anything and don't be scared to add that you're aware your experience is limited but you're keen and willing to learn. I also include how interested and active I am with regards to the Beauty Community and Social Media.
Continuing on with your covering letter and CV make sure you say YES to any opportunities that allow you to add to your CV! I know there's a lot of hoo-ha (yes, hoo-ha is the technical term) about Bloggers being paid for posts, but until you reach a certain level you should jump at the chance to contribute for free in just the same way you should try and write for the school/uni newspaper and get involved in events (offline, online or both p doesn't matter!) because it's all good experience and it sets you apart from other people.
Some people that don't understand or 'get' blogging may laugh at you for including it in your CV (or for just having one in the first place) but I recently landed a graduate scheme and the CEO told me he was 'impressed' at the dedication I gave to my blog in my free time. It shows commitment and passion and is a great way for an employer to quickly see your writing abilities (or photography, or fashion styling etc) so use it almost as a portfolio as well as experience
I hope that the tips above are helpful. Please leave any other questions below as I'm going to be doing a series of posts and videos on this topic as I get asked so many questions. I'm going to address what an intern does, the debate over paying interns and more! I'm also going to go into more detail about what qualifications I have, what degree/A levels etc (for the record I did Psychology - COMPLETELY UNRELATED!) but I can't fit it all in one post or it will be fiftene pages long! Do please leave questions in the comments or tweet @JRosellenM. xx
For now, you can read my other posts or watch my videos on my previous Internships.
Lancome Blogs One Two and Three
More Magazine Blogs One and Two
More Magazine Videos One and Two