5 days, 5 lessons

Last week was the first week/beginning of what I would consider to be…. my dream internship.

I’ve only been in the office for 5 days in total so far, but it feels like I’ve been there for a month; I’ve done and learned so much already.

After a full day of interning and attending a night class to finish off the day, I come home completely exhausted yet satisfied because I am so excited by the new things I’m learning and seeing each day.

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It’s an awesome feeling being able to use all of the skills and knowledge I’ve accumlated throughout the years from all the experiences I’ve had both on and on campus as a 20-something in New York City. I feel as though I’ve been “training” for this my whole college career and seeing hard work slowly pay off is not only rewarding but completely validating.

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Assisting one of my bosses at an appointment! I’m obviously really engrossed here. He was amazing

That isn’t to say that I know everything- no, of course not. There is always room for mistakes and improvement and I’ve noticed this in the few but eventful days I’ve been interning. Even one of my superiors told me the other day that in this industry, especially this internship where everything is hands on, you either sink or swim. 

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Covering a fashion presentation before Fashion week!

In a real swimming pool or body of water, I would definitely sink since the closest I can get to swimming is doggy paddling but everyday after a day of interning, I think about how the day went, journal a bit, think about what I could’ve done better and set goals for the next time. I think it’s safe to say I’m treading if not swimming.

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in the waiting room before a showroom appointment

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Leaving Shoe Heaven

Here are the lessons I’ve learned so far:

1) Speak up.– If you have something to say or something to ask, it’s better to ask when prompted than to ask later when it’s too late. Also it’s important to speak up literally. I said out loud to someone that I finished a project the other day, but apparently she didn’t hear me (since she was also doing work). This could’ve resulted in a huge miscommunication and delay if I hadn’t made sure she got the materials shortly after.

2) Prioritize.– Most likely you have a whole list of things to tackle in one day or even in one hour. It’s important to be able to recognize which demands your attention immediately, which can be done simultaneously and which can be put on the backburner. I asked about a project the other day and it only irked my superior. There were obviously more pressing matters to be taken care and in retrospect I should’ve known better than to ask what I now understand to be a dumb question.  Prioritizing makes all the difference in when and what gets done in a day.

3) Do things with excellence, not perfection. Aiming for perfection is going to be frustrating and disappointing especially when your work is most likely going to be edited and seen by numerous eyes/people (trust me I know). It’s better to do everything with excellence- your work should be clean, on time, impeccably presentable, professional and done to the best of your ability. The same goes for how you dress. Sure, my body hates me for waking up even before the sun is shining in the sky but the few extra minutes I spend in putting an outfit together pays off when I happen to tag along for an appointment/meeting and am regarded as more than just an intern.  When I was doing fashion design projects freshman year, my professor would say, “Design your collections and turn them in as if you were showing them to Oscar De La Renta.” You never know what you’re going to do and who you’re going to meet so be excellent and you’ll never disappoint.

4) Be on time. Be prepared. I spoke of a few of the consequences of being late in this blog post where the CEO of Chanel was present but generally speaking, being on time and being prepared are just a few small details that go a long way. In the end, it’s you and only you that suffers a consequence. I’ve been a few minutes late to my internship and I always end up feeling embarrassed and starting my day off in a less than ideal way. I’d rather have something (extra time or an extra camera) and not need it than need it and not have it.

5) Breakfast. Every morning I make sure to eat a good breakfast. There are days when I don’t eat lunch until 4pm and if I didn’t eat breakfast, my body would just not be able to function and focus. No matter how much work there is to be done, you cannot do it if there’s no gas in the tank. I also make sure to walk every morning to my internship to get a bit of fresh air and “me” time before a day of non-stop technology and working.

These are just a few lessons I’ve learned over the years but it is at my internship that these truly are put to the test.

What I’ve come to realize is that interning is a taste of the real world. I’m no longer in school where I can maybe get away with something. At work, you are 100% completely responsible for yourself and your actions. Your performance is a representation of yourself and by extension who you work for. In life, business and especially fashion, you have complete control in how you look and perform so do your best- the worst thing would be for you to regret not making the most of an incredible experience.

Tomorrow, Fashion Week (mayhem) begins and I’m sure there will be more lessons reinforced and learned.

This intense schedule of interning and attending class is why I haven’t been able to blog as much recently but follow me in my adventures on facebook and instagram and it’ll be like you’re right there with me! With the double whammy of fashion week and Chinese New Year coming up, it’s going to be a busy but fun fun month.

Talk to you soon

– AndreaM

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