How To Turn Your Summer Internship Into An Actual Fashion Career

Fashion pros dole out tips for becoming the best intern ever—and maybe even snagging a job

Collage by Danielle Moalem, photo courtesy of Getty Images

So you landed your dream internship, perhaps at a fashion magazine, for a designer, or at a PR firm. Rather than working on your tan for two months, you spent the summer sitting in front of a computer sending emails, meeting cool people, and maybe sometimes feeling a bit lost. Guess what? That’s totally normal. But you’ve got the hardest part down: landing an opportunity that could eventually lead to your dream job.

However, I’m here to tell you that your work is not done. Actually, it’s kind of just begun. As the summer comes to a close and the start of the fall semester is just around the corner, you have to find a way to remind your bosses how organized you were with that contact list, or how you were smart enough to anticipate that a little extra research on that obscure celeb would be necessary.

And the best way to do that is to stay on their radar—without being too aggressive.

“Master the art of the follow-up and the KIT [keep in touch] email,” recommends Noah Silverstein, an editor at Marc Jacobs. “Keep your emails to once every other month. It sounds super infrequent, but that's all you need. And, of course, stay updated on their work, especially if they're writers and putting out content.”

If you’ve still got a few more weeks of work, be sure to use your remaining time at the office as smartly as possible. Look back at what you’ve done, reflect on what could have been better and how you can improve. There’s still time to make an impact.

“In many ways, being an intern is an unrivaled position, because you get to be eyes and ears, to absorb what’s important. Of course, that’s not permission for passivity—be active and proactive. Arrive early, volunteer, contribute more than what’s asked,” suggests Paula Wallace, the president of Savannah College of Art and Design. She also makes a good point that you should not be wearing your tattered Levi's cutoffs to the office, no matter how casual the environment.

“Dress professionally and speak to people in a professional manner. You’ll be working with people who are more senior to you, therefore show them the proper respect,” she says.

Here are some more tips from seasoned fashion professionals on how to really ace your summer internship.

Kristie Dash, freelance writer and digital consultant

Former Intern at: Vogue, Teen Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, E! News, and NBC

“Don’t be overly annoying, but definitely stay in touch with everyone you worked with, even the more senior directors. If an editor I briefly worked with did a cool story, I’d always send an email to them and something like this: ‘Just wanted to drop you a note to tell you I’m obsessed with this story. [Insert question/comment about said story.] Hope you’re well, thanks again for all of your support this year. PS. I’m in the process of applying to [insert names of internships/jobs], so I’ll be sure to keep you posted!’ Don’t send anything longer than two paragraphs and do not only send emails when you need something. You can’t be needy until you really know someone.”