Working “In Fashion” vs. Being “Fashionable”

Explore Your Internship Opportunities

College is the time to test the waters. You have endless opportunities to dip your toes into potential career areas that interest you by exploring different internship opportunities and taking different classes. This is exactly what I did. I applied for my first internship during the summer of my sophomore year, and I applied to any internship that sounded interesting to me. I didn’t worry about whether I was going to get it. I knew I needed to cast several lines before I caught a fish, which is exactly what happened.

Working at my first internship in NYC.

Let me start my saying that I’m a typical “girly girl” who loves to shop. I pride myself on having an amazing closet, stocked with great shoes and bags. I love seeing what celebrities are wearing and staying in touch with the latest fashion trends. I firmly believe you should love what you do, so I thought to myself, “Why not make my love for fashion into a career?” and it wasn’t what I expected. I learned very quickly that working in fashion was incredibly different than being fashionable.

My First Internship

After applying to various internships, I finally got my first (unpaid) internship – my first fish. I started as a Wholesale and Social Media Intern at a fashion company in New York City. I thought I was living the dream and felt so grown up,. However, those thoughts quickly escaped me after commuting into the city for a few weeks (which was daunting). I hated the cold walks to the train station in the morning, the crowds, and the overall rush of Penn Station. Getting onto the train after my internship was like my own version of the show Survivor – would I make it on the train today or be stranded in NYC (aka my island)? It was exhausting.

Other than disliking the commute, I also disliked my internship – and it was definitely because I wasn’t good at it.

Did you know fashion has a ton of math in it?

If ya don’t know, now ya know.” – Biggie Smalls

Throw Me a Life Raft

I found myself drowning in Excel sheets full of numbers, and maybe if I was good at Excel or math, it could have been easier (hence why I’m a writer). I can only imagine how frustrating it was to my manager to explain the same Excel formulas to me hundreds of times, but I just wasn’t getting it.

I also had no idea how much I would hate shopping for the showroom displays and how bad at it I would be. Just like “beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” so is style, and my outfit choices for our showroom mannequins were not cutting it.

Aside from being bad at the job itself, I also knew I wasn’t cut out for the fashion industry because of one particular experience:

The snow was coming down hard in the city, and I was asked by one of my teammates to go out and get a case of water. I obliged, zipped up my parka, and trekked a few blocks to Duane Reade. There, I purchased the first case of water I saw – because water is water, right? Wrong.

By the time I returned from the store, I was sweating, my makeup was smeared, and I was exhausted (try walking a few blocks with a case of water while getting pelted by snow). Once I approached my manager to let her know I returned, I was told that I bought the wrong brand of water but didn’t have to go back out. Of course, I was relieved I didn’t need to drag myself all the way back to Duane Reade. However, I was shocked and confused (does bottled water really taste different?).

Lesson Learned

Today, I can look back on that moment and laugh. My internship experience helped me realize that although I wouldn’t discount a position in fashion in the future (pun-intended), the position I was currently in wasn’t the one for me.

Everything happens for a reason (cliché, I know), and I know I was meant to take that internship to learn that I needed to keep exploring to find the right career path.

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