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How to Land Your Dream Internship

Lilly Pulitzer internship
 I have received a ton of requests to share the following post so I hope you enjoy it! xx

This is the time of year when internship applications are opening up in the fashion/PR/marketing world and you’re beginning to really think about going into the *professional* workforce (although I learned so much waitressing, scooping ice cream, and working retail– priceless jobs that should never be overlooked!). Looking back on my internships, the summer after my sophomore year I was a part time PR intern for the fashion jewelry design house, Lydell NYC (a post about that here), then went abroad the fall of my junior year and interned for a private fashion consulting firm during Paris Fashion Week (read more about that here), and the summer after my junior year I was the PR & Social Media intern for Lilly Pulitzer (blog post about that here).

These were all challenging, real, and fast-paced internships. I was wide-eyed the whole time but mostly thankful that I got to work in an industry where it was acceptable (dare I say advantageous?!) to wear glitter flats and a hot pink blazer. 😉 Throughout each internship I worked on small teams where I was given more responsibility than I had thought possible (more than I would have given myself at the time, ha) and gained valuable experience.

It wasn’t exactly by chance that I came across these three specific internships. Though many things did fall into place for me that I can look back and consider “lucky,” I also see a pattern in why and how I looked into internships and applied for them, which I will explain in my 5 tips below. I tend to get very emotional about things that I want to pursue and therefore go after them with everything I have. Sometimes this gets a little dicey (as you can imagine), but I’d say it was a positive trait to have when I was attempting to get an internship that has it’s own hashtag… #Pinktern. 😉

Before I share my tips, I must put a *few* disclaimers in here. #1: I am only 23 years old and really have no idea what my career holds in store for me and how to navigate it appropriately. That is up to my future to hold. 😉 #2: This post is definitely geared toward people who are pursuing internships in creative fields. I’m talking about the kind of internship applications that ask for your Instagram handle instead of your GPA. THOSE are my kind of applications. ? #3: I have absolutely no HR experience so I don’t know if these tips actually help get ahead in the application process, BUT, I do know a thing or two about being a college student who’s applying for internships and feel confident that the 5 below tips helped me differentiate myself from other applicants and land each of my internships.

 1. Figure out what you love doing more than anything else

First let’s start by figuring out what type of field you want to go in. Now that I’ve been working full time for the past six months (a job that I received due to an internship), I’ve realized that working takes up about 80% of how you spend your time so you really have to LOVE it in order to be fully happy in your life. Know that you are not limited to only applying for internships that correspond with your major or minor. But if you are a communications, journalism, or marketing major and want to go into PR/fashion then that’s a pretty standard fit.

First, I would recommend taking some time to think about what you love doing more than anything– the hobbies/skills/moments that you enjoy so much that you don’t even look at a clock while doing them– and then figure out what career would allow you to do them and which of your strengths would transfer over well into a specific role that could be a career. I decided on the job I have now because I took time to think about what I really loved to do more than anything. When I think about some of my favorite life experiences and roles I’ve had, I think of blogging, being a recruitment chair of my sorority, and working in leadership groups that are female-led. I looked at those things that I love and figured out which career path would have a lot of overlap with all of those things.

Now, I work in a role where I am telling a brand’s story through collaborations (like blogging), recruiting people to learn about and love a brand (like sorority recruitment), and am part of an environment that’s composed of phenomenal female leaders. I truly believe that so many of your high school and college experiences and likes/dislikes shape and dictate what career path you will have.

 Once you realize what you love to do more than anything, you can figure out which real-life jobs entail all of those things. Just figure out where your best skills lie and then do the research to learn which careers required those skills. Make sense? Also, it’s always totally OK to start something, figure out it’s not for you, and change paths completely. Life would be way too boring if we did the same thing from day one!

2. Know your story

When you sit down across from the person who’s interviewing you (and you’re still trying to get over the sweaty handshake you gave them when you walked in), when they say, “tell me about yourself” you better have a spiel down. Ahead of time, figure out a way to tell your life story in an abbreviated, cohesive way that somehow relates to why you want to enter that field and have that specific internship. For instance– if you grew up as a girl making mixed tapes and selling them to all of your classmates (and you LOVED doing that) and are trying to now get an internship at Spotify, talk about how you’ve shown a strong interest in shared digital music for your whole life (random example but you get the point).

Then, when they ask you all kinds of behavioral questions, have specific anecdotes to back up your answers. Think back to defining experiences in your life and how they can help answer a variety of interview questions. Before the interview, figure out which anecdotes you have that could apply to multiple questions and have those stories rehearsed. Hopefully you’ve connected with someone who has interviewed with that company before so you can have an idea of what types of questions they will ask. ALSO, look up the company’s core values and use the same language from those statements in your interview questions. Make eye contact and speak with confidence and emotion. They will forget 90% of what you say but will distinctly remember how you said it.

3. Use your etiquette

After your interview, once you’d called your mom to dish about every single thing (like what the interviewer was wearing, if the people in the office looked cute, you know, the professional details), sit down and write an email to anyone who interviewed you (/anyone you met who you made a connection with). Thank them for their time, explain why you loved learning about (insert whatever interesting tidbit they told you), and reiterate what skills you have that makes you different from every other candidate (more about that in tip #4). Tell them how excited you are about the potential of working for them and ask them what the next steps are. Then, get out your best personalized stationery and write a hand written thank you note. p.s. Try not to use contractions or the word “ya’ll.”

4. Be creative

Among thousands of applicants that all have 3.8 GPAs and are in a business fraternity (guilty… of the business frat part 😉 ), how do you differentiate yourself in a way that is smart and reflects well on your personal brand??

Get a little creative. Write down all of your differentiating factors that make you unique from every other candidate. It could be something as simple as these: you are scuba dive certified in three different countries and love the serenity of being underwater, you are fluent in Spanish and love to tutor local Spanish-speaking kids, you love photography so much that you started photographing weddings in your free time on the weekends. Then, figure out a way to relate your differentiating factor to the internship you want, like I discussed in tip #1. How would these skills help you excel in the internship? Then, once you’ve solidified your differentiating factor and what it is that you can bring to the internship role that literally no one else can, brainstorm things that no one else would do in the interview process.

 Sometimes it’s creating a stand-out resume (Canva has a bunch of templates for this), sending a box of pizza to the HR team with a witty poem written inside, emailing the recruiter a photo of you wearing that fashion brand in an iconic location, or creating a website to showcase your digital or creative talent… make sure it fits with something that’s true to your personality and the company/internship role you’re applying to and I’m sure they will be blown away by the out-of-the-box gesture. And if they’re turned off by your creative and standout idea, then maybe you don’t want to work there in the first place?? Keep searching then. Find your crazies.

5. Give it everything you have

 You never want to look back at an application process and think “ugh I could have done more,” or “I should have sent those followup emails but I didn’t want to miss that day drink” (ha). If you’re going after your dream internship then GO AFTER YOUR DREAM INTERNSHIP! Read up everything you can about it, meet with people who work for that company, meet with people who have interviewed with that company before, ask around to see which friend of a friend may have a connection you can send an email to, rely on help from your friends, your boyfriend, your parents, and your professors and college mentors. Applications are tough and intensive and drawn out. I remember times where I cried big crocodile tears over interviews, decisions, and the unexpectedness of it all. The GOOD news is that with every cover letter you write, every email you send, and every interview you get yourself siked up for, you become a better professional and a more confident person. You never lose anything by going for a role and putting in the time to get it.

Please keep me updated on your success and not-so success stories. I love hearing from my IBIP peeps more than anything! Best of luck and remember that patience is in trusting God’s timing. 🙂 xx

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