My Experience Interning in NYC!
As you may or may not know, last summer I spent my time in New York City interning in the fashion industry. And being that it’s the season of applying for summer internships, I want to give my insight and share my experience so that maybe it can help someone else land a internship or figure out if it’s something they actually want to do.
Interning is something that’s required in many different career paths and I find that it’s a good way to experience your career hands on so you can determine if you really want to do take on this career path for the next 15+ years. I learned so much and met so many amazing people that I think about moving back often! Now I know this may seem unrealistic for those who don’t have the funds or experience but believe me I was in the same boat.
Let’s start from the beginning, I was really set on moving for the summer but I never thought of doing a big move all the way to NYC from California.
SIDE NOTE: I’ve always wanted to go to NYC it was literally always a dream of mine, even when I forgot about the dream. I recently was rearranging my room and deep cleaning and behind all my purses hanging on the door I found the scripture Philippians 4:13 and a picture of NYC!
I was using Indeed.com to find the internships because every big company uses it! While I was applying I seen post from Solange Franklin who has has held the position of Fashion Editor-at-Large for Paper Magazine since 2015. Kollin Carter who is the mastermind behind Cardi B’s looks. And many other freelance stylist who had well known clients. Its pretty amazing how you can search and big names like that are reachable, usually you hear that to get a job with them it has to be by word of mouth. Anyways girl, i was just scrolling one night and I see a internship for Erin Mcsherry who is stylist for 50cent an she does every type of styling from, editorial, commercial, personal, YOU NAME IT! So I apply and I’m all like “girl wtf you know you ain’t going to NYC!” But I sent the application in around February and I kid you not I didn’t hear back until late April and I did an over the phone interview and I got an email a week later saying I got the internship.
Finally, I make it to NYC and girl, I was a hot—mess. My emotions were everywhere because I was nervous, scared, and in disbelief that I was living in NYC. No family, no close friends. This was the hardest part for me and realizing that it was such a sacrifice for me to go there and take the chance. But we digress, and a week in i’m literally like “yasss NYC living, get on my level” HAHA! So it didn’t take too long to settle in. I started to meet people by using apps like tinder, bumble, and of course instagram. I also met up with people i’ve always wanted to meet and even tried to do some test shooting.
A week later its my first day on the internship and I wore Fenty slides, thinking it would be a chill first day. Girl, on the first day, it was raining extremely hard and humidity on 100%. I made it to the office early and they sit me down and its right to work, they start introducing me to the projects I was working on, moodboards, models, production, etc. My first task was to go to Hearst Publications to meet a girl who worked for Elle Magazine and pick up a credit card to go shopping with and they had told me what I should be buying, the sizes, quantities, all of that. So this is only my second week in NYC, and I was living in the bronx at the time so I had only explored the Bronx and Harlem at this point. So they had me going to Herald Square (worst place ever) shopping center to pull because it would be easy to knock out all the stores back to back. Let’s pause for a second, so they had these rules where we would had to take pictures of everything we saw that might work and send them to be approved before purchasing and in NYC some of those stores go underground and connection just drops so imagine having to go look take picture of everything just to have to leave all the product, go back upstairs, send the photos, and go find the specific ones they want. It was very redundant.
At this point Herald Square is starting to become to much as it hits the late afternoon after the rain calmed down and the bags get heavier and heavier. My lesson right here, is don’t be afraid to ask a questions because you feel like you will be judged for it. Because girl my feet were hurting, my hands and arms were literally losing circulation from all the heavy bags and those NYC blocks aint no joke. I really wanted to ask them if I can drop the stuff off and then go back out; but I was too scared because I didnt know if this was like a thing where “it comes with the territory.” To conclude they let me come back and I went back, checked everything in, hung everything up, took that long ride to 181st, got myself some oxtails, and went to sleep.
Fast forward to the point of now we are going to back to back to back shoots. I think it’s okay to tell yall because all of these campaigns have came out. So we were working on a Elle x Esquire x UNIQLO for the airism line also I worked on Heely’s Campaign. This happened to be more of the calmer days because it was just organizing and the boss lady already had the outfits ready to go so we just steamed and changed the models and that’s it. I think the worst part of shoot days were the last day because it seemed like we always left with more than what we had.
This internship was on a on call basis so I wouldn’t find out if I was working until the night before which sucked because if I went out and they text me at 10pm saying call time 6am in SoHo, i immediately had to change all of my plans and go home to get rest. So one morning I go in and I find out I’ll be helping on a shoot and this was a editorial shoot for 20/20 magazine with kids. This day was packed for boss lady because of the premiere of the STARZ show POWER produced by 50cent. So she left me and her other assistant to do the whole shoot by ourselves. She pre-styled the outfits, our job was to accessorize accordingly and of course send pictures for approval. The whole shoot went so well and it was so chill until the ending. When I tell you it always turned out to be the worst part no matter what set I was on, it just was but this particular day took the cake girl! I’m cleaning up the clothes, retagging and bagging them in garment bags from what looks are done and what looks need to be shot. Fast forward we leave the shoot all happy and giddy and somehow during this 7 hour shoot another person part of production team hung up their coat on the garment rack with all the shooting clothes. It would’ve been okay until the person said their house key was inside the coat. I found out after I got back to office and put the clothes up so I’m digging in all the clothes and trying to find the jacket and once I do, I’m thinking I can just run this back uptown. No ma’am. This person lives over yonder girl, if I remember right it was another state. I ended up having to overnight the jacket to the person and it cost my boss quite a bit of coins. That’s the day I thought I was through. I go home crying on the phone to my mom like “OMG how can they be so slow to put there jacket there without saying anything!” “And why didn’t I see it!”
But it was okay! This is the beauty of interning, even if you work hard and you can be the one to make mistakes like that without the full consequences.
I now have been out interning for a month and half now and things started to slow down. I went 2 weeks without getting called in and when I did get called in it was small jobs like errands with her and small returns. I was concerned and I just prayed that things would pick up because I came all the way out there to work not sit around. Thankfully this is where a connection worked out, the same girl I was working with on the 20/20 magazine shoot with referred me to another assitant who needed help on the weekend. So I sent all my information, they sent me an address and it was back to work thankfully. This job I was put on was for a health company called VERSED and it was super chill shoot and the head stylist; Lara Backmender was so amazing, nice, and a great teacher.
You might’ve just missed the praise break, but the same shoot I thought I bombed and was getting fired for was the same one that got me an even better opportunity. Look at God work.
I did such a great job that weekend with the team, they ended up booking me for the rest of my time in NYC. It was a bunch of work but I wasn’t going to let this opportunity pass. I ended up working on a e-commerce job with The Reset, Glamour Magazine, Aetna Health Insurance, and Jameson Whiskey. I think the highlight of working with Lara was just being able to learn from her because she has been styling for over 20 years and her knowledge was unparalleled to anyone I ever came across. She really took me under her wing and taught me whats right and whats wrong, I even learned about the business side of being a freelance stylist. The part that touched my heart the most was her always introducing me to everyone on set, and she made sure I knew exactly what was going on during set. I even got to stand beside her during shoots, it was just a experience I appreciate because I was her only intern compared to starting off with Erin. It was about 5 assistants and 6 interns so we had to share the jobs and her time.
While working on the Aetna job with Lara we really needed extra hands and there was a girl I met at Erin’s office who I would share work days with and we always got along so I got her to come help with us and mind you this was mid august and we hadn’t seen each other since late june. Just to give you an idea of how things were working over there. We caught up and at the point she went back to Erin’s way more than I had. She began to tell me all these crazy stories and how i’m not the only person who left working with her and when I heard all of this I felt like I truly dodged a bullet.
Overall my experience turned out to be so great and I loved every minute of it. Like I said at the beginning of this piece, interning is where you can find out if this specific career path is for you and I honestly do not see myself being a freelance stylist ever. Styling is something I love and happen to be good at but the lifestyle of freelancing and trying to balance jobs so you can afford to pay your team and then bills is just not the wave. I rather work within a company as a lead stylist or be working in fashion in another area like design, journalism, or directing. This way I don’t lose that love and joy that styling brings to me and if I really felt the need to style a shoot, I know how and I know I can.
I wish I could have told you every single story from each shoot but girl that would turn into a book. But, I hope what I was able to give, so that you receive and it either made you laugh, learn, or celebrate.
If you want to hear about my experience living in NYC outside of interning, just leave a comment below and I would be happy to share.