Undertaking an internship or work experience placement provides an opportunity to learn, grow, develop and understand fully the career path you might want to pursue. As an intern in a specific department you are usually thrown in at the deep end with lots of room to flourish and shine but, like every new starter, there is plenty of room to make mistakes. Making mistakes isn’t necessarily a bad thing, often they can be the best way to learn but as long as you do learn from them and don’t keep making the same mistake! Here are some of the most common mistakes and how you can learn from them:
Getting too comfortable and too familiar too quickly
Young professionals must approach each experience with a professional manner, which I know is true of any industry. The fashion industry is a collaborative one so of course, it is important to develop a positive relationship with your team and managers, however this does not mean excelling at being your boss’s best friend. Ability to do the job is the priority. If you can’t do the job, you won’t be around for too long. It’s important to find a healthy balance between being friendly with the team and your boss but make sure you are seen as a hardworking member of that team, respect and friendliness will then follow.
Forgetting the purpose of the internship
When the internship is in full swing, many feel the role allocated becomes repetitive and therefore easy and comfortable. Remember the aim of interning is to grow and learn as much as possible and to push yourself. Look to getting involved in a wider field than the one you have been assigned. Talk to your immediate line manager about this. Offer to help, show initiative and take on something new if you can. Every now and then, take note of what you feel you have mastered and what you are learning. It is easy to let 3 or 6 months go by without really understanding what you have done or achieved. Maybe self-reflect every Friday over a gin and tonic?
Seeing your manager as an enemy
Rumours and feedback of challenging internships especially of the ‘awful boss’ from hell often circulate. Very often it is the worry of an unreasonable and unsympathetic manager that cause a lot of anxiety for young interns and once again, this isn’t just in the fashion industry. However, don’t let this limit your experience by not bonding! Your manager is there to guide you through the role, help you and make sure you’re progressing. This should be the expectation you have of them. They are there to be your point of call during your day to day working. If you don’t feel comfortable around them this can have a big impact on your experience, so don’t be shy to ask for a 1-1 if you are finding things challenging.
I’m not sure if this is a mistake or a mind-set problem, it’s certainly a mistaken attitude!. Based on TV shows, films and other sources, which often give an inaccurate picture, some young professionals enter the industry feeling they have arrived and success is theirs. This can be limiting and unrealistic and can and stop interns making the most their experience, as well as others finding this approach extremely irritating. Absorb the tasks and activities you are asked to undertake with good grace and have realistic expectations of the experience. Go into every role with an open mind and willingness to learn from others.
These few mistakes may seem obvious and ones that you would never dream of making, but trust me, they are easy mistakes to make when you are caught up with nerves, pressure and the stress of the working world.
Keep note, take stock and do your best!
By contributing guest editor Hannah Rafter, founder and Editor In Chief of The Intern 247, a website dedicated to giving real insights into the world of fashion internships. @theintern247 theintern247.com
Photo credit: Startupstockphotos.com, Pexels