If you are a student I am sure you have been continuously told about the importance of obtaining internships and work experience, especially throughout your years at university. Internships are invaluable because it gives you a new insight into industry, which no amount of reading text books can teach, and hopefully you will even learn some new skills along the way.
I've been lucky enough to have had a few creative internships throughout my Textiles degree, so when it came to writing this article, it made sense that I wrote this from the perspective of someone aspiring to work in the creative industries. My most predominant internship has been with a fashion outerwear brand Protected Species, who sell a range of waterproof jackets, and I really wanted to share my experience working with them in hope that it could help some of you with your own internships.
What Does My Internship Entail?
My main role within Protected Species is working as a social media contributor. My priorities and tasks usually change weekly, but normally you can find me taking a lot of product photos and a lot of flatlays, editing the photos on Photoshop (which is my favourite thing to do), posting onto social media platforms like Instagram and Pinterest and sometimes interacting with customers and bloggers on these platforms. I also create a lot of mood boards on Pinterest to inspire customers and give a feel for the lifestyle surrounding the Protected Species brand. The list could go on with other bits and bobs I occasionally get to do, but ultimately you get the gist.
How Do I Balance Interning With University?
So you have scored a great internship, now comes the challenge of keeping it! Finding the time to commit to your internship alongside all of your university commitments is probably one of the hardest tasks, and a juggling act I sometimes struggle with too. I'm lucky enough to be interning at home with the occasional meeting with the brand managers either over the phone or in person. This means I am able to choose my own working hours which for me means being able to work in the evenings and on weekends making balancing my life a lot easier.
My strongest bit of advice is to be honest with yourself and honest with your supervisor. Take it semester by semester, sometimes you might just have too much university work and that's something you might have to prioritise more, and be realistic with yourself with what you can achieve, just remember to communicate any concerns like this with your who you're interning for.
I like to designate an amount of time at some point each evening and weekend to concentrate on my intern tasks for that week. Sometimes I might have to make sacrifices like going to a party if I know I have to get a task completed by a certain time, but ultimately if I keep myself organised I don't usually run into this problem. Setting reminders and writing to do lists on my phone is a way I like to stay organised for individual tasks, and using apps like "Later" to send me notifications for when I need to post a new Insta pic is great to stay on track for tasks that need to be done in the middle of the day.
Finding Internships Where You Are
Finding an internship where you live can be a bit of a daunting task especially if you want to be in the creative industries and don't live in a large city like London Leeds. I go to uni in quite a small city, so if you're in a similar situation to me, I would suggest contacting a lot of start-up businesses and smaller designers in your area. If you are still stuck on finding anyone, ask your tutors. They probably know a lot of local creative businesses and graduates who would be so grateful for an extra helping hand. A smaller business might not sound as spectacular as a huge multi-million pound brand on your cv, but working for a smaller brand usually means you get to learn more about the ins and outs of an entire company rather than being shoved into a fashion cupboard and forgotten about for an afternoon.
Social media is also a great tool for gaining new opportunities these days. I actually attained my Protected Species Internship over Twitter after one of the co-owners saw and loved my Instagram account. I think this goes to show that today, opportunities can come in so many different ways.
Ultimately I believe you make your own luck in life, so work hard and promote yourself in your best light, and opportunities will come in your direction. If you have nay questions about interning or balancing uni life with internships I will of course be more than happy to help!