BAZAAR Career: How to Get Your First Job in Fashion

Photography: Erica Cohen

Photography: Erica Cohen

 

Fashion is one of those industries that can seem near impossible to enter—whether your dream is to become an editor, stylist, designer, photographer, creative director, buyer, publicist… (okay, so there are a lot of options). Even here, we get emails every day asking about potential internships, opportunities to freelance and possible jobs. And we get it; we’ve been there. Getting your foot in the door is the ultimate challenge, which will lead (fingers crossed) to the ultimate reward: your dream job. So we started asking around because everyone has to start somewhere. Herein, how people who work at some of our favourite companies in fashion, from Net-A-Porter and Moda Operandi to Teen Vogue and Paper Magazine, talk about how they got in the door and what they look for when they’re hiring. Prepare your resumés accordingly, friends!

 

Photography: Nikki Erwin

Photography: Nikki Erwin

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Philip Picardi, Digital Editorial Director, Teen Vogue

Image: The Covetuer

 

“I love telling stories about my time interning at Teen Vogue in the web department because my role now makes that such a full circle moment. But my first official internship was at Racked NY, and my boss was the truly brilliant Izzy Grinspan. I actually had just moved to New York City and was a freshman at NYU. I was overly-bronzed, overly-waxed, and wearing overly-tight clothes. (Really living the dream!) I finished NYU Welcome Week and then literally was seated (and/or standing) at Fashion Week right after, reviewing shows like Alexandre Herchcovitch and Hayden Harnett. (Full disclosure: I CRINGE at the thought of discovering my old clips.) I also covered sample sales, which is how I entered credit card debt! The great thing about Racked is that I got to build my writing experience and discover a voice far outside of magazine-land, all while working for an editor with a nearly encyclopedic knowledge of the industry. I walked into an interview with Teen Vogue at the end of my fall semester and was really confident I could handle the work. I was hired there, interned with the brand for a year and a half…and, some time later, I’m their digital editorial director!

 

The industry is a lot different now. I was really privileged to have parents supporting me through college and the ability to work retail on the weekends during my school years for extra spending money. NYU Gallatin was also great in that they gave me school credit for interning. If you’re an aspiring writer NOW, though, I can honestly say that you don’t need extensive clips—you just need a great voice. Some of my favorite (and most incendiary!) pieces we’ve published on TeenVogue.com have come from students who we ended up following on Twitter. You can tell a lot about someone’s voice from their tweets and who they choose to interact with on the platform. Plus, this is good experience for you—as an editor (and someone who worked in beauty editorial), you really do have to use social media to your advantage to stand out. Beyond that, though, if you can find a paid internship or an editorial fellowship, those are great ways to build contacts and practical work experience.

 

One of the things that I learned from working at Teen Vogue is that editors are often willing to take meetings with up-and-coming young people to offer advice. There’s a right way and a wrong way to go about this—you can email the editor once, politely asking for 15 minutes of someone’s time over the phone or in person, and then follow up once. Beyond that, you might be pestering. If they say yes, show up on time, with questions prepared, and please make sure you’ve read the latest issue of the magazine and/or the site’s last couple days’ of content. Also, Google the person you’re meeting with and make sure you’re familiar with their body of work. More often than not, impressing someone simply means taking the time to genuinely appreciate the work they’re doing—not wearing the great outfit or having the killer résumé.

 

Entry-level jobs are, in my experience, the most fun to fill. I once received an email that was made as a GIF Listicle of 10 reasons that person was perfect for the job, and I laughed out loud (in a good way!) the entire time I read it. Entry-level positions require a can-do attitude, which sounds so contrived, but it can really mean anything—from attending the epic Kendall Jenner event because your editor got busy, to processing a month’s worth of invoices. The best thing you can project in an interview is a willingness to bite off more than you can chew. In this industry, your actual role is never limited to the bullet points on HR’s job description. Beyond that, you wouldn’t believe how many people I’ve met with who cannot answer a single question about what TeenVogue.com published in the past week, or what their favorite photo shoot has been in the magazine (beyond, of course, the cover sitting on my desk). That’s a non-starter… know your product before you sit down to be hired.

 

In terms of knowing if someone is the right fit, I always follow our editor-in-chief, Amy Astley’s rule. A lot of managers tend to hire specifically for one role without anticipating the future. Amy hires people who she knows will grow. I now understand a little bit about why—it’s rewarding to see members of my staff shine bright and, now, hire their own people and become their own managers. If your résumé can show me that you’ve managed an internship and a job, or that you started freelance writing while you were still in college, or you have an epic Tumblr with a great voice, I am already seeing potential. Ambition cannot be taught—but it can definitely be spotted.

 

To apply for a job, do your research (it’s not hard in the age of Instagram and Twitter) to make an educated guess about who the hiring editor is for the role. Submit through the traditional way, of course, with Human Resources, but never be afraid to email the editor with your resumé and a personalized note expressing your interest. And another thing? We don’t have to have a job posting to be hiring. One of our freelance writers was doing such an astounding job covering sexual health and gender identity that I decided to hire her as our Wellness Editor before the job even became public. In fact, she just launched Teen Vogue’s first-ever Wellness vertical! You never know what could happen, but in my best experience, good, timely, and efficient work will eventually pay off.”

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