The fast-paced world of fashion business requires both superb style and strategy to be successful. If patterns are your pursuit, it’s time to walk the walk (and the runway), and take the leap into an international fashion internship. Learning the ins and outs of the global fashion industry outside of the classroom will give you invaluable insight into the fashion realm beyond Fashion Week. You won’t go home empty handed from a fashion internship abroad; instead, you’ll gain a shopping bag full of skills, confidence, and mentors, to offer a helping hand on the road to realizing your goals.
Why Intern Abroad in Fashion Business
In such a competitive field, having internship experience can be a make-it or break-it asset to your resume. In fact, fashion Internships are no longer an optional part of a career in fashion business; they have become a necessity. You may know brands like the back of your hand, but without an understanding of the real-world business implications in the global fashion industry, your hopes of making it big in the fashion world will disappear faster than the Heelys fad.
You’ll Learn About International Business. How much will people pay for the latest garment in a global market? How do you develop a business strategy that works? A fashion business internship will complement your coursework and provide some practical context in a pragmatic field, but gaining international context is priceless. Function and form unite in fashion, and in the impact a fashion business internship will have on you. The first step to thriving in the fashion world is to put yourself out there, learn as much as you can, and to gain knowledge about how everything in the industry intersects on a global scale. This is especially important if you want to work internationally or work for an international brand, which is increasingly becoming almost every top brand.
Network, Network, Network. Take this opportunity to impress the socks off your boss and you’ll hopefully be rewarded with a glowing recommendation and introductions to others in the field. You never know who might be able to help you out. Everyone from fellow interns to the CEO of your host company could become part of your network. Meeting the right people is important in any field, but it is beyond important in the fashion business. Why spend your days designing outfits in your head when you could work your way up and design for Vogue? Networking sounds scary, but it’s really just meeting new people, so time to put those schmoozing skills to work! A fashion business internship will give you the opportunity to meet the right people and show them your stuff. Before you know it networking will become as comfortable as an easy-wear collection.
It’s all about the fashion “it” cities and the homes of Fashion Week when it comes to fashion business internships abroad. These meccas of fashion also host the headquarters of some of the biggest names and empires in the industry, as well as showrooms, buying offices, and boutiques. What more could you ask for?
London. Three of the top five fashion schools in the world are located in London and have produced top names such as Stella McCartney and Zac Posen; clearly the fashion vibe is poppin’ here! In your off hours, find inspiration in the myriad museums, parks, and global influences, throughout the city. A must see for any fashion intern is the Fashion and Textile Museum in London, what a perfect fit! In addition to the high fashion of Fashion Week, London has some of the best fashion markets in the world. You’ll likely spend more than an afternoon or two scouring the Camden or Greenwich markets looking for a vintage steal. London might just be your cup of tea for the fusion of fashion opportunities and international flair to get your creative juices flowing.
New York. From Brooklyn to Manhattan, New York has a style all its own that will certainly rub off on you. From street fashion to couture, there is plenty to explore, both fashion-related and otherwise, in the city that never sleeps. Check out the Museum of Modern Art or the Financial District, depending on which side of your brain you need to fuel. Although it’s a competitive scene, if you can make the cut in New York, you can make it in the fashion business anywhere.
Paris. Experience for yourself some of the tres chic French fashion, in the city that is considered by many to be the fashion capital of the world. Take a walk down the tree-lined Champs-Elysées for some fancy shopping, or settle into a cafe during your lunch break to sample some croque madame and pain au chocolat. Paris’ Fashion Week is the grand finale of all the fashion weeks, and with many of the luxury fashion companies rooted in Paris, such as the iconic Chanel, it’s a prime fashion business internship destination.
Milan. Serving as the economic and financial center of Italy as well as one of the fashion hubs of Europe, fashion internships in Milan will provide ample opportunities in a not-too-overwhelming environment. You’ll easily be able to find your way around town and use the simple to navigate and affordable public transportation system. Milan has a long history of fashion with its Fashion Week emphasis on simplicity and quality in fabrics. On your lunch break, head out with your coworkers to taste the ossobuco the region is famous for or perhaps some risotto alla Milanese.
Fashion Business Internships
It’s common to launch a career in fashion business from the beginning ranks as an intern; you’ve gotta start somewhere! Heading to the places where the fashion industry has a strong presence, like the aforementioned cities, will give you the most options when it comes to fashion internships abroad.
The most prevalent types of fashion business internships include placements in: sales, merchandising, marketing, and brand development. Sales and merchandising are similar in that the goal is to sell the product, but merchandising requires a bit more of a creative mind and is more geared to influencing a buyer’s decisions. Marketing and brand development placements can be anything from advertising to social media management to graphic design, and you’ll probably see the most fashion internship opportunities in this arena. Having a couple of years of schooling under your belt will help determine the direction you should go for your fashion internship abroad, and in many cases, that experience will be required to land the gig.
Typically, semester or year-long internships will afford the chance to work in some of the more prestigious placements at some of the better-known companies. Although, there are fashion business internship opportunities available even just for the week of Fashion Week. Don’t rule out smaller up-and-coming brands though; they often provide more exposure to projects and decision making opportunities. Regardless, be sure to put your best foot (and Louis Vuitton diamond studded high heels) forward to make the most of your moment in the spotlight as a fashion intern abroad.
Benefits & Challenges
The benefits you’ll gain from completing a fashion business internship abroad are huge, but that doesn’t mean it will be a walk in Bryant Park. There is no sugar coating it in the fashion industry; it’s a tough glittery world out there. The fashion business is a tough heel to crack and even landing an internship is competitive (think The Devil Wears Prada). Behind the ultra-glamorous exterior is an often cutthroat business, so you’ll have to be willing and able to make sacrifices.
The best in the fashion business world are able to think both creatively and analytically, and can thrive in a fast-paced setting. An internship in fashion is your chance to rise to the challenge, learn what the industry is about, and honestly, find out if a career in the fashion business is what you are looking for. If so, keep at it because the outcome is worth it. Get out on the catwalk and show ‘em what you’re made of.
Grow Your Confidence. With some hard work and a keen eye to detail, you’ll see that your dream of working in the fashion business is no passing fad; you are in it to win it afterall. Knowing you are accomplishing your goals will put a little zing in your strut and help you feel like you can keep on taking on the world.
Build Your Credibility. Nothing can replace the opportunity to learn the biz from the inside. In a multicultural, cross continental business like fashion, it’s all the more important to start building your own brand as you are learning about fashion brands. The next time you send out your resume, you’ll have some legit experience that will land you a second look. A fashion business internship is considered by many to be a rite of passage and an experience you need to have before embarking on a full-on fashion career.
From stripes to spreadsheets and aplique to advertising, you’ll be the one to keep business booming. Before you know it, you’ll be on your way to shopping for life and totally living the dream. If a career in fashion business is your calling, get your stiletto in the door by pursuing an international internship, pronto.