Looking to land your dream internship but not sure where to start? You’re not alone. The internship application process can be daunting, but with these simple tips, you’re sure to secure a spot at your desired company. This summer I worked as a photography intern for Free People, here’s everything you should know about my experience.
Working for this retail giant was a pivotal moment for me. I didn’t study photography in school, I was a recent graduate with a degree in Psychology and PR & Advertising. Photography was my hobby turned side passion, something I would pursue outside of my courses. The internship started the Monday after my graduation (which was a Saturday). It was a tight turn around, and pretty far from my hometown of Chicago however, I knew I needed to take the opportunity, even if it was a little stressful.
It was definitely worth it. This role pushed me and helped me to grow more than ever, career wise. Generally, the goal of an intern is to observe and learn the most they possibly can. At the Free People studio, it’s no different. My position is to support when and wherever it is needed — whether that includes teching, using software to pick and edit photos, or pulling materials needed for the shoot that day.
So, how did I land this role? Here is my best advice for anyone curious about the application process, along with tips on how to make yourself stand out at any company.
Understand your “why”
Why that company? What kind of values do you have that align with the organization’s values? What does that look like in your life? For me, I resonated with the URBN motto “lead with creativity”. Doing everything I do with compassion and creativity is my north star, so to speak. This isn’t just URBN specific, but really for any internship you apply for. I worked a bit for the US State Department, as a digital media intern for the Bureau of Educational and Cultural affairs. It mattered to me, because as someone from an immigrant background, spreading understanding of other cultures is critical. There’s a lot of talented and smart people who apply to every role, but take your thing, and lean into it. I promise it will pay off, as long as you’re being authentic to what you believe.
Persistence pays off
I applied for the URBN twice before I got hired (the third time’s the charm, right?). But really, don’t be discouraged. I promise you’re not being annoying by applying to that thing you really want to pursue. Had I gotten the internship a year or two before, I’m not sure it would’ve been as impactful for me. Honestly, based on where I was in life, I might’ve not even been willing to make the move across the country. Timing is everything, so try and try again, but in the pursuit, don’t close yourself off to other opportunities that may come your way.
Research people in the department or company you’d like to connect with
You will hear a lot that networking is important. This is true, but there’s a lot that goes into this process. The goal is to build genuine connections and ask meaningful questions of people that you admire or have the job you eventually want. If they are on LinkedIn, send a message! A simple one, where you would like to meet for coffee and chat. Don’t ask them to help you get an internship off the bat, build a conversation (people can usually tell if you’re talking to them just to get something).
Keep building your portfolio
This applies to more creative fields, but it’s not limited to them. Whatever your goal may be, making a collection of your work is a useful thing. Look and study what others do.What’s effective? What’s not? Draw inspiration from yourself, but also those around you. Trends are great, but style is the most important. For my creative people and fashion forward folks: how would you describe your personal style? Where does your inspiration come from for it? I notice in creative fields, especially in one like fashion, it is important to hone in your own style, beyond just what’s trendy or cool at the moment.
Apply these tips and you’re sure to land a dream role eventually. Good luck!
Featured Image via @hannahtietink. Design by Her Campus Media.