How I landed my first fashion internship

It’s never too early to start your dream career, especially when it’s a tough industry like fashion. The problem is, you have the catch-22 of getting entry-level experience: To get experience, you need experience. So how do you go about getting your first job or internship when you don’t have a previous experience? WHAT IS THIS CONSPIRACY??

What they don’t tell you is that you do have previous experience. Maybe it’s not an internship, but by the time you’re in college looking for internships, you’ve got plenty of valuable stuff under your belt, from school to extracurricular activities, to your personal passions and interests. The trick is packaging. Yup, packaging. It’s all in the presentation.

After lots of trial and error and Internet research, I was able to spin what little experience I had into resume gold. I turned my after-school retail job and my one year of college education into the first internship of my dreams at Note To You Little Sister (NTYLS), a San Diego-based online fashion retailer with killer clothes and an amazing brand story.

Here’s how I did it:

The internship search

Finding your passions and shooting for the moon and all that

It’s a rough time applying to summer internships as a sophomore. You’re competing with people who have eons of experience ahead of you. But I was both stubborn and stupid, which isn’t a bad combination when it comes to the gutsy experience of going for jobs way beyond your reach. Because guess what? You’ll get rejected, but you never know where you’ll get accepted. I applied to PR agencies that would probably not even give a junior in college the time of day, but what did I know? I just kept trying.

Tip: Start with what you’re naturally interested in, and go from there. Make a list of everything you want to apply to, even if you don’t think you’re qualified yet.

I knew I wanted to work in fashion, so I applied to big fashion brands like Free People, Nordstrom, and also smaller boutiques that I found on Instagram and just Google. I made a spreadsheet of all my dream jobs and internships, from ones I thought I had a reasonable chance with, to ones I had no business applying to. And I ended up landing one of the internships I thought I had no business applying to. You are not wasting your time if you really care about the places you apply to.

The resume

Standing out both visually and verbally

Knowing I had to stand out even more as a sophomore, and because I was applying to a creative industry, I designed my resume with some flair. I used Canva to create a gorgeous, personalized resume that was so unbelievably extra I couldn’t even believe what I had done. But guess what? BEING EXTRA WORKS. Job searches are the time to be extra, ladies and gentlemen.

(Are there any gentlemen reading my blog? I have no idea, to be super honest.)

Then, I had to make the content sing. Since I was focusing on fashion jobs, I focused my experience on fashion. My first job was at a local clothing store, so that was great, but I also had to connect my jobs as a cashier at the campus bookstore, a ride operator at Legoland, and a writing tutor. Not as easy. Yet there are so many ways to make connections– for example, with the writing tutor position, I described how I build relationships with each unique individual that comes in for tutoring, and connected that with managing client relationships in PR.

Tip: Think about how your experiences can directly apply to the job you want, even if it doesn’t seem applicable at first.

At your first job in Hollister (or Taco Bell, or wherever), you may think that all you did was fold clothes and operate a cash register. But there’s more to it, so don’t sell yourself short. You have experience working with customers. You worked on a team. You addressed problems and handled challenges that came up.

The cover letter

Being direct and being different

How many cover letters in fashion do you think have the phrase, “I have a passion for fashion”? I would literally guess that 90% of them. And the people in charge are tired of it. They’re also tired of cover letters that aren’t personalized.

Tip: Cookie cutters are for cookies, not cover letters.

When sending out applications and emails, I always, ALWAYS started with a personal connection to the company, and then made everything I talked about directly relate to what I could do for that company. NTYLS was founded by sisters, and operates with the mission of offering sisterly advice and hand-picked clothes. When applying, I told the founders that I related because my own sister and I steal each other’s clothes, and I genuinely loved what they were all about.

The portfolio

Fake it ’till you make it (in a good way)

Don’t have professional work samples yet? Make them up. I don’t mean lie– I mean impress the company you’re interviewing for with work samples that you created on your own as if you already worked there. For example, when I applied to places like Nordstrom and Free People, I sent a press release announcing Nordstrom’s new fall boot looks, with actual photos and links to shoes they carried. For FP, I wrote a pitch as if I were pitching Free People products for a holiday gift guide to an editor at Refinery29. And for NTYLS, the job I got, I wrote copy for an advice column I saw on their website. The devil is in the details, and you can show the company that you did your research.

Tip: Use your resources to look as professional and polished as possible.

I didn’t have enough school training yet to know exactly how to write a press release or a good pitch, but thankfully Google exists and you can learn a thing or two yourself! Be confident that you are capable of more than you know!

The interview

Show up prepared. In fact, overprepared.

I don’t actually think it’s possible to be overprepared for an interview. Beyond the typical answers to interview questions like “Tell me your greatest accomplishment” and “What do you think makes you different from other candidates?” I came in armed with knowledge of everything there was to know about fashion and NTYLS.

I made a list of fashion industry trends and my favorite bloggers, and scoured the NTYLS website and social media to prove I understood the company and meant business. During the interview, I referred to specific things, like a kimono I saw for sale on the site or an Instagram post. My interviewer let me know later that very day that I was hired.

Remember that you should have all the confidence in the world. After all, if you’re applying to internships early in the game, you’re already proving that you can think one (or two) steps ahead. 

Coming up next, I’ll post about my experience in the fashion world, and how I eventually made the move to beauty!

XO,
CC

Just your type: 5 steps to getting over writer’s block

I have this theory: If you have something to say, it should be easy to say it.

How many of you have found yourself staring at a blank Word document page with an equally blank brain? If you tell me you’ve never typed your name and spent the next 30 minutes online shopping, I’d like to know your secret.

Why does this happen? When we sit down to write, we have work to do. Maybe it’s a press release or a pitch, for us PR peeps. Maybe it’s a research paper. Maybe it’s a blog post. Maybe it’s even just a thank-you note or a text. Worst of all: an Instagram caption.

Those really are the worst.

Here’s the thing. We all have a job to do and something to say. So I think writer’s block is totally made up. Just like most of everything else in our heads, writer’s block is a mentality that you can change, whether you’re writing a novel, cover letter, skywriting, or the dreaded Instagram caption that just won’t pop into your head like it should.

5 Steps to Overcoming Writer’s Block, Which Is Completely In Your Head

  1. Get your facts first. If you’re writing a research report, do the actual research. If you’re pitching a product, write down the product details. Before you even dive into the daunting blank page, you’ll be armed with the info.
  2. Figure out what you actually want to say by making an outline. I know this seems obvious, but it isn’t. It’s so tempting to jump right in and go bombs away banging on the keyboard, and if that works for you, great. If not, you need a road map. Make bullet points of the ideas you have, and try using a regular pen and paper– writing things by hand can make it more real and less terrifying.
  3. Step away from the situation. Take a lap around the library or go on a Starbucks run– the fresh air, physical activity, and caffeine do wonders for your perspective. When you take time off from something, you come back with a clearer head. THIS DOES NOT MEAN YOU GET TO PROCRASTINATE. I say this because I use “clearing my head” as an excuse to get margaritas with my friends.
  4. Draw inspiration from unexpected places. Go ahead and go on Spotify, but let it be your source of inspiration. Read The New Yorker. Watch a football game. Just don’t watch Netflix. It’s a trap.
  5. Find your confidence. Start small, do things in chunks, and don’t worry about whether you’re writing complete crudballs. Easier said than done, but how are you supposed to write anything if you’re always worried about it being good? Accept that you aren’t perfect, and then it will be easier to be great.

Again for emphasis:

Accept that you aren’t perfect, and then it will be easier to be great.

XO,

A

Breaking into your dream industry

We’ve all got dreams about where we want to be. For some, it’s the beach. For others, it’s In-N-Out (me, 90% of the year when I’m away at school in Missouri). And for so many, it’s working in the fashion and beauty industry. Which happens to be one of the hardest, most competitive fields to be in.

Many people ask me how I ended up doing PR for fashion and beauty retailers. The simple answer to give is that if you’re passionate enough about something, the rest follows. I’ve always been inspired by fashion retailers, magazines and bloggers, and I was naturally doing my thing following online fashion retailers when I discovered NTYLS. They just happened to be hiring for a Marketing Communications Intern. I just happened to love their style and their story. And the founders just happened to love my style and story when we met over coffee.

But that’s not the whole way it happens. Yes, I got totally lucky, but if I hadn’t been actively searching for places to draw inspiration from, and if I hadn’t put myself out there, and if I hadn’t spent a thousand hours working hard on my writing and marketing skills, there’s no way I would’ve gotten my first fashion gig. And there’s no way that gig would have led to my next gig at Ulta Beauty, my big break in the beauty industry, or Ketchum, my big break in the agency side of PR.

Landing your dream job in the place you’re passionate about is completely possible, even probable. But the pieces of your puzzle won’t fall into place unless you get the pieces first. Here are my pointers for working hard and sending good vibes to the universe:

  • Be genuine. Before I was hired at Ulta Beauty, one of my interviewers asked me who my favorite beauty bloggers were, and what my favorite makeup brands were (of course I said the Urban Decay Naked Palette, like the majority of girls in the United States). If you really do care about the industry, you’ll have no problem being enthusiastic and knowledgeable. And your employers will see it.
  • Search for opportunities, and make doors open even if they look closed. An amazing job isn’t going to drop into your lap one day while you’re eating your In-N-Out burger, unless you look like a model and a scout discovers you, in which case, can I switch lives with you for a year before I go back to eating In-N-Out? If you’re a normal person, you’re going to need to dig, dig, dig for opportunities. Make a list of places you’d love to work for. Keep an eye out for openings, or even reach out and pitch your talent to them. You never know when someone might need you. When I got the Ulta internship, it’s because my eyes were open and I saw the LinkedIn job posting, not because a recruiter plucked me from obscurity.
  • Work, work, work, work, work. Says Rihanna. Listen to her. Yes, it should be fun pursuing your passion, but it also comes with developing serious skills. The most successful people spend a lot of their free time doing the hustle instead of watching Netflix, and the people who say you’re too obsessed with your career are the people who are in disbelief when you end up landing your dream. Practice, practice, practice, and you’ll find yourself rising above everyone else who just does their required work and calls it a day.
  • Find a support system. I would not be blogging about reaching my dream career if I wasn’t surrounded by friends and family who are 110% behind me and my craziness. My boyfriend, bless his heart, knows to expect my frantic phone calls about things he knows nothing about (such as the Urban Decay Naked Palette). And he knows how important it is that I do what it takes to make things happen. Nothing can replace that, and you need it.
  • Figure out what sets you apart. What are you good at, that other people aren’t? For me, it’s being able to learn a lot of info in a little bit of time. Or walking into a room and getting along with just about any stranger there. Or putting myself into anyone’s shoes so I can write from their perspective. These things are hard for many people, and I use it to my advantage when seeking out opportunities. Find your unique strengths, write them down somewhere, remember them when you write cover letters, go to interviews, or go to the office.
  • Always send positive energy. Attitude is everything, and when you’re going for a competitive field, so many people want your spot that nobody with a negative attitude ever makes it. When you love the universe, the universe loves you right back. It’s a simple concept that everyone knows, but not everyone can practice.

XO,

CC

Continue building your career at school

It can be frustrating spending the summer in the ~adult world~ at an internship, only to have to go back to school in the fall. I’ve spent the past three summers doing internships, and every time I went back to school, it felt like I was putting my life on hold instead of getting ahead. But this isn’t the right way to think (you are in school to get your degree and therefore get ahead, after all), and you can still take advantage of your time in school by developing new skills and gaining different experience.

Which sounds like bullshit, but I am not here to bullshit you. Some people spend college doing the minimum, which involves skipping lectures and selling your textbooks halfway through the semester to buy a burger (guilty as charged on the latter). You are going to spend it possibly doing those things, but also still growing on a personal and professional level. You can have it all. You can enjoy a burger bought using blood textbook money and simultaneously become extremely hireable.

Sound too hard? Here are a few different plans of action for continuing your career while still making it to class and slaying that degree:

Plan A: Continue your work for the company you interned at

If you have a strong desire to keep working your internship and think you can handle it (school is, like, hard sometimes), ask if there’s a way you can continue after class. If you’e in the area, you can offer to stay on part-time at the office, or you can help out remotely. I had one internship that let me extend my internship through fall and work virtually from school, since I didn’t have to physically be in the office to do my job effectively. It will depend on your industry, relationship with the company, and geographical/time constraints.

Pro tip: Give them a reason to let you stay on– pitch your contributions and show them that they still need you!

Plan B: Freelance for local businesses and nonprofits

If continuing the internship isn’t an option, you can also take on freelance work. Into music and event promotion? Offer to help out your local concert venue. Enjoy shopping and social media? Ask around at the fashion boutiques in your town to see what you can do for their Instagram. Do you already feel passionate about a nonprofit in your area, and think you can contribute your professional talents to their cause? Volunteer on a whole new level. My sorority works with the Alzheimer’s Association, for example, and I would love to do PR for them while I’m in grad school.

Plan C: Work on your resume and personal brand

This actually should’t be a Plan C; it should just always be an ongoing focus as you start out in your career. It takes serious time and energy to update your LinkedIn profile, re-design your resume, maintain a personal website and construct a portfolio. Or at least, if you’re doing all of these things right. In school, you’ll have more time on your hands than when you’re working a full time job, so take this as an opportunity to spend time on yourself.

Also, remember that you just finished your internship, so it’s important to update everything with that new position under your belt! Know it’s a pain. Just do it.

Plan D: Learn and develop new skills

At your internship, did you realize you could work on certain areas to make you stronger in that industry? Now is the time to work on those areas. I learned over one summer that Excel spreadsheets are a major part of entry-level work in PR (Surprise! Sometimes your dream job involves things you thought you were avoiding). So now I know to focus more on learning the ins and outs of Excel, and it’ll make me an even stronger candidate since many PR/journalism/communication majors don’t think to learn it. There are plenty of online resources for teaching yourself skills, and taking the time to develop those skills while everyone else was snoozing through class will set you apart.

2017-2018 is going to be an amazing school year, and you can make it an amazing professional year, too!

XO,

CC

 

 

How I Became a Morning Person

Most articles will tell you that one of the most common habits of CEOs and successful people is that they start their day early. What the article doesn’t tell you is that successful people pretty much have no choice.

Or rather, they did have a choice at some point– back when they were an intern, maybe, and they could either go the extra mile or not.

I have this theory that being good at your job is not as much about talent as it is about time management. And mornings are the ultimate time for time management. It sucks at first, but getting up just an hour earlier puts an extra hour of time back in your day. It’s like a freebie.

No one is bugging you.

The time from around 5-8a.m. is all yours. You can do whatever you need to do– work out, grab coffee, get a project done, or God forbid, eat a healthy breakfast for once. All without a single text or email.

Mornings don’t sound all that bad when I put it that way, do they?

But it’s not easy getting yourself in the habit, which is why not everyone does mornings. Everyone can do mornings, though. It just takes a few tricks.

Turn down the AC.

When you wake up and it’s freezing outside your bed, that does not make you want to get out of bed.

Turn up the coffee.

I mean, you probably knew this tip was coming. You can’t exactly wake up and smell the coffee unless there’s like, actually coffee. Coffee is a morning drink (for most people that aren’t me and only drink coffee once a day) for a reason- it motivates you to get your butt out of bed and at least a few steps into your kitchen. Or Starbucks. Whatever it takes.

Make it easier on yourself to get ready.

Figure out your outfit the night before. If you’re going to the gym, set out your clothes and shoes in advance. It sounds dumb, but

Eat a good breakfast (or at least a passable one).

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Were those stock photos enough for you?

No?

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Still not convinced?

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Aha. Thought so.

One of the perks of perking up in the early AM is having time to get yourself a decent breakfast. Food is an excellent motivator for just about anything.

Go to bed early.

I am a bit hypocritical in this advice. Sleep is not my strong suit. But it’s super important to get yourself in bed at least by 11 to be able to wake up early. Common sense, yeah, but suddenly it’s 2 a.m. and you have no idea why you’re still up writing a blog post. Whoops.

Lose the alarm.

Seriously, it sucks. Use a song instead. A song you like but are okay with not liking, since you’ll hear the sound of an alarm every time you hear it. I used to use “Amber” by 311, but it was so relaxing I sometimes slept through it. So. Don’t do that.

Make it a habit.

Once you’re consistent, your body will get adjusted to the rhythm and it’ll be second nature to be one step ahead of the world. Grab yourself a coffee for being so damn on top of it.

Does anyone else have pointers for becoming a morning person?

XO,

CC

 

 

Beauty in Transit

Lately I’ve found myself on a train with a bare face and 30 minutes to kill before I have to arrive somewhere and look like I didn’t just run out of my apartment.

Except I’m always racing against time, and when you have 5 minutes to hop on the Metra, mascara isn’t as important as making it there. The good news? My makeup bag is always with me, with beauty tools made for moments of panic.

Here are some pointers for beauty on the go, whether it be trains, planes or automobiles:

Foundation

Hopefully you got this on before you left the house– this one is most important to do under good lighting– but if not, no worries. Just make extra sure you’re blending with the right brushes.

Start with a primer that has SPF (ALWAYS SPF) and then use a BB cream that gives you nice coverage without being super heavy. When you’re applying quickly, you can’t afford to do heavy.

Be sure to use a brush that gets the job done in quick, broad strokes. I use the e.l.f flawless face brush.

Cheeks

A duo palette is the call here. I like the NYX Cheek Contour Duo Palette. If you can go pricier, Clinique and Tarte have great options. Right now I use Clinique bronzer, and apply it with the e.l.f fan brush.

Bonus points: Finish it off with highlighter to look like you really have it together.

And with that, you’ve gotten your base done. On to the hard part!

Eyes

If you’re a travel pro, you have the travel size Urban Decay Primer Potion.

It’s so itty bitty! Look at it next to my mascara!

Next, use a palette with your essential neutral shades. I usually have the original Urban Decay Naked or the Naked Smoky palette with me, but it’s not ideal since it takes up more space. Try a mini palette with the best of the basics. You can always darken it depending on where you’re going. A couple suggestions:

As for eyeliner: Beware of bumps, and choose an eyeliner that won’t smudge if you do hit something. The Maybelline Eyestudio Lasting Drama Waterproof Gel Pencil is a good smudge-proof option.

Mascara

When you need to swipe it on quickly, it’s important to have a mascara that will still achieve the same volume without being clumpy. I use the Clinique Travel Size Chubby Lash Fattening Mascara or the classic Maybelline Falsies to get the voluminous effect in seconds.

Lastly: Lips & Nails

When it comes to shaky transportation, you want to avoid neon-bright lip colors and lipsticks that are unforgiving with mess-ups. Opt for a neutral or light pink color in either a lip gloss or lip crayon, which won’t need as much precision and still looks great. The e.l.f. Lip Kiss Balm  is swell.

If you have time, paint your nails with another light, forgiving color. Then grab a magazine and your headphones to sit back and relax, knowing you just pulled off a polished look in the middle of rush hour. Not bad at all.

XO,

CC

 

 

 

Interning after graduating: Is it worth it?

So you just graduated. What now?

Well, some may argue that it’s time to find a job. I agree with that– eventually. Because to find a job, you might need to consider an internship first.

A few reasons NOT to intern after you graduate:

You already have a great job lined up.

The internships you’ve gotten are unpaid (I advise against unpaid internships; in my opinion you should be doing real work and therefore should be paid. If you aren’t getting paid, you don’t be doing real work, and then what’s the point?)

You’re not trying to work.

A few reasons to intern after you graduate:

Your dream company hires entry level employees from their interns (this is a commonality in the PR/marketing/advertising industry, and I’ve seen it in plenty of others like accounting). 

You want to try out a career path before committing to it.

You’re breaking into a competitive industry.

You want to learn more about a company to see if you fit in.

It’s paid.

You’re going to graduate school and want to get experience over the summer.

You’ll gain experience that you would also gain as an entry-level employee (very true of my internship experiences).

You’re trying a new city.

You’re trying to be employed.

Graduation is merely a ceremony and you aren’t quite ready to be a full time adult yet so an internship is a good trial run for the real world.

Yeah, that one.


The bottom line: An internship is often a stepping stone to a full-time job in the career you want, so don’t overlook it. A few months as an intern will be 100% worth it in the end, especially when you might otherwise be spending those few months looking for a job. 
Remember that even med school graduates start as interns in hospitals. If you’ve learned anything from Grey’s Anatomy, it’s that we all need to start somewhere. And one day you’ll blink and be the world’s best neurosurgeon or something.

See, internships aren’t all bad.

XO,

A

10 Media Outlets Every Lifestyle PR Professional Should Follow

Every morning at 8 a.m., I get to the office, turn on my computer, and read the entire Internet.

Okay, not quite. But close enough. It’s part of my job to do a sweep of every major news outlet, checking for news about my clients, the industry, competitors, and any other notable stories that a company’s leaders need to know.

It’s also part of my job to keeping up with trends, getting better at my career, and understanding what’s relevant in today’s society. Pretty tall order, right? Luckily, my go-to list of daily media outlets help me stay on top of everything I need to know, from the latest trending makeup look on Instagram to the most important mergers and acquisitions of the week.

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Lifestyle:

  • Refinery29: If I had to pick a number one, R29 would be it. Which is probably why I listed it first.
  • TeenVogue: I’m not a teen, fine, but TeenVogue is still relevant. Lately their articles have been spitting straight truth.
  • Bustle: An all-around great site with the most up-to-date headlines. If it’s a thing, chances are it’s already on Bustle.
  • Brit + Co: The ultimate DIY site. Enough said.

Career:

  • Corporette: An awesome work-fashion combo blog catering to overachievers.
  • The Everygirl: A down to earth site with some of the most inspiring career stories and advice.

Business:

These are all like spinach for the brain: Not the most exciting, but good for you.

Bonus:

The glossies!

In other words, print magazines that people are forgetting about. These all have webites, of course, but there’s nothing like the “thump”– the sound you hear of a print magazine landing on your coffee table.

  • Glamour
  • Vogue
  • Cosmopolitan
  • The New Yorker