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Interning: Capitalizing on Your Power

non-profit internship
Alexandra
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Published on July 25, 2014

Major American cities have their own distinct cultures. San Francisco, at least the southern portion, is a widely known utopia for tech corporations and newly graduated Mark Zuckerberg aspirers. Boston—home to Harvard and Wellesley—is all but trademarked in J. Crew, Brooks Brothers, and tennis whites on the weekends. New York City, my new home, claims power — what you accomplish while you’re young and able — as its dominant culture.

Chalk full of over-achieving professionals with an ingrained hedonistic streak (the Statue of Liberty should really read: Work hard, play hard), millennial culture in New York is as goal-oriented as Kim K is to staying relevant in the fashion community. Long story short: we’re all looking to dominate the workplace, show up earlier than necessary, and impress the skirts off our potential bosses scouting on LinkedIn.

What do I think of New York culture? It’s grand and I can relate to it; inherently it’s built in me already, even coming from the complacent West Coast. I understand the principles of business here: doing more than necessary will get you noticed, and will maybe even lead to a recommendation or a heads up regarding opportunities outside your bubble. Interns like myself are no exception to this rule; we are not excluded just because we’re on the bottom ranks (for now). We have our feet in our respective industries, and that’s a solid coup to build on.

In addition to interning and contributing to a column here, I’m now a contributing fashion writer to digital fashion glossy Deux Hommes. I meet emerging designers noted for their avant-garde aesthetic and profile them on a weekly, sometimes biweekly, basis. It’s a dream role, and one that I am proud to be a part of.

Ultimately, writing profiles comes naturally to me. Creating stories is a bit like riding through Splash Mountain at Disney World: there’s a lovely concept — innocent enough — of the designer’s world, but when you probe deeper, you see that designing amidst competitors and nay-sayers who want to eat you up for breakfast like rabid Rodger Rabbit is an intense experience. The design world is certainly another jungle, however concrete.

With a few weeks left to go at my internship with Pour La Victoire, I look back quite often at what I’ve managed to accomplish since May. Ever the curious one, I’ve taken the initiative to familiarize myself with the people who work nearest me, and then expand toward other departments, like sales, pr, and marketing.

I first offered my hand—doing “anything you don’t want to do”—to a second design director, to junior designers, and then eventually, to the sales team, a completely separate department. I was commissioned to create lookbooks. I then made my way to Pour La Victoire’s second floor—The Penthouse. Marketing and public relations were quick to embrace me as part of their team. Humility, kindness, and a cheerful disposition can get you everywhere. I was soon revamping PLV’s Pinterest page, producing copy for e-blasts, and even learning how to tie bows the Hermés way by, as you guessed it, a former Hermés intern.

Proving ambitious and equally hardworking as their summer intern, I have received gracious offers from a few of my bosses to put me in touch with their contacts at high profile fashion and publishing companies. Of course, I leapt at the offers. The uncertainty of my future post-PLV is a bit unnerving, but I am confident enough that I’ll land on my feet. The way my internship has been going, I know I have the professional intuition to recognize the right opportunities, and the willingness to work hand and tooth to achieve them.

Alexandra

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