Key learnings from my internship
Words and Interview by Mariandrea Alvarez
During my last year of university, I began to question what I was going to do after completing my Commerce degree. The thought worried me as I had no idea where I wanted to go or what I wanted to do next. The only thing I knew for sure was that I enjoyed business and I loved fashion. It didn’t take long for me to realise that I wouldn’t be happy working in a bank or for an accounting firm so I thought about what industry would make me excited and happy to go into work every day and it was fashion.
Since I was a little girl, I have always loved fashion. I would collect magazines, rummage through my mums’ closet, and shop for clothes I didn’t necessarily need. As a child I was known for never letting my parents pick out my outfits and I was very picky when it came to shopping. As I grew older and started handling my own money, I would save and spend my money on clothes and my favourite procrastination activity was (and still is) looking for outfit inspiration, browsing stores, making mood boards for seasons and discovering new trends.
After doing some research and talking to some friends, The Fashion institute (TFI) was recommended to me as a pathway to broaden my studies and to help my progression with a career in the fashion industry. In addition to their incredibly aesthetic campus, their interesting curriculum and highly regarded reputation, what drew me the most towards TFI was their internship program. At TFI, every student must intern for the duration of their studies. I knew this would be the perfect way to discover more about the industry and to gain some industry experience.
Before the start of the first term, I had a meeting with Bryce (our Communications + Careers Manager), where we discussed my interests and goals. During our discussion I told Bryce that I had specialised in marketing and operations at university and that I was most drawn to luxury fashion. Bryce told me about an internship position available at Parlour X working in both the marketing and operations department. I was incredibly excited about the opportunity and eager to get started in an environment which would let me explore both of my interests.
Parlour X is a luxury fashion boutique located in the heart of Paddington and is considered one of the world’s leading multi-luxury boutiques. What makes Parlour X so unique is their hand-picked selection of coveted ready-to-wear and accessory designer collections from a range of designers such as Céline, Chloè, Balenciaga, Saint Laurent, Valentino, Comme des Garçons, Loewe, Fendi and Isabel Marant (www.parlourx.com).
I had never done an internship before going to Parlour X, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was pretty nervous on my first day, but I think it was mostly excitement. I was in awe as soon as I walked in. The boutique and office are gorgeous, and the staff are very welcoming and lovely to work with. There are many challenges you may face as an intern; you will most likely feel overwhelmed and lack self-confidence. I have personally struggled with my self-confidence and I’m still working on it. When put into a new work environment with new people it is normal to feel shy and reluctant to speak up, but it is important to try your best to stand out and not be overlooked. Being confident and polite goes a long way and doesn’t go un-noticed.
I believe gaining confidence develops naturally over time and can be improved by:
- Believing in yourself
- Pushing yourself to ask more questions
- Starting your day with a positive mindset
- Identifying your strengths and capitalising on them
- Identifying your weaknesses and working on improving them
- Monitoring and reflecting your success by tracking daily accomplishments
It has now been almost 4 months since I started interning at Parlour X and I have gained incredibly valuable knowledge whilst learning so many new skills. After such an impactful experience, I truly believe that interning is a perfect way to help you decide what area of the industry is right for you whilst exposing you to the real day-to-day work. Although learning in a classroom is valuable, there are so many things that you don’t learn until you are put in a professional environment and experience real-life situations firsthand. Within a short time working at Parlour X, I was trained to use programs such as Shopify and photoshop and have and gained sufficient capabilities in creating and scheduling social media posts and creating EDM’s.
I have been lucky enough to interview Parlour X founder, Eva Galambos and ask her a few questions about her start in the fashion industry and her advice for interns.
How did you get into fashion? Did you always know it is where you’d be today?
My tertiary education and original love was in the Arts and I initially pursued a career in that direction. But I also worked in fashion retail since I was a teenager, so I had considerable experience in sales and worked my way up into luxury. I held a few positions in my early twenties while completing my studies. This led me to eventually focus my career in fashion since that is where the best opportunity came from. I still love the Arts and am still involved in the MCA but I am very happy my sliding door moment lead me down the fashion path.
Did you do any internships at the start of your career?
Internships were not commonplace back then, but I did pursue a wholesale job, offering to work for free in my mid 20s after returning from living in London for 3 years. My employer ended up giving me a job as the receptionist because that was the only position she had despite my vast experience and being completely overqualified. Within 2 months I had proven my worth and skills, and a job was created for me. The moral of the story is that I was prepared to do anything to get my foot in the door and prove myself. I worked very hard, so I proved my commitment, and I had the work ethic and attitude my employer respected and valued most in an employee. I was there for 3 years before leaving and setting up my own business.
Is there an internship or job that heavily impacted you and taught you a valuable lesson that you practice today?
Every job I ever had taught me valuable life lessons. But the most important lesson I learned was how to be a valuable employee. While gaining experience and developing my own skills, with each job it was important to me to make a valuable impact on the company I worked for.
As an employer today, I want to be inspired by the people I have around me, as I know they expect to be inspired by me. I value hard-working, honest, reliable and talented people and I like to reward those I believe deserve it. I also only want to work with people who really want to work with me for all the ‘right’ reasons.
What are some tips you have for interns starting in the fashion industry?
Each internship is a valuable lesson and must be considered this way. Practical experience is critical for learning about any industry or specific job, and it teaches interns how to work in a hybrid capacity which will make them more employable in the future. Interns should always put their hands up for as many different tasks as possible so they can be taught and shown new aspects of the business which will broaden their skillset.
Do you think internships are a valuable experience? If so, why?
Yes, I am a big believer as long as interns are placed in businesses who respect that internship is a two-way street. Someone is working for free and in turn must gain knowledge and experience that will lead to their dream job which could actually be within that company.
When I reflect on how I felt this time last year, I remember feeling so unsure of what my next step would be as a fresh university graduate. I am so glad that I found The Fashion Institute and decided to take a year to pursue my passion and try something new. I am also very appreciative for the opportunity I have had working at Parlour X. The lessons I have learnt, the experiences I have had, and the friends I have all have helped me to become more confident about the career path I want to take. I would highly recommend anyone to undertake an internship whether it to be to gain experience, make new connections or to help figure out your career aspirations.