What Vogue taught me…Internships can be tough, demanding and difficult- then there are Vogue internships.
As an editorial intern for the fashion juggernaut vogue.com.au I was expected to keep pace with the employed journalists this meant ideating, writing, producing, editing and uploading new, fresh articles all before midday, no pressure!
Sounds like the ideal sink or swim experience for a budding journalist, right? Well as a final year media & communications (journalism) student to say it was a little bit daunting would be the understatement of the season!
The interview process
After having completed an extremely formal and somewhat overwhelming interview process – which included a half hour long discussion with the Fashion Features and the Online Producer covering off the usual’s such as do I read the magazines, what articles did I enjoy. Once the interview wrapped up I was tasked with producing 3 articles that would be suitable for vogue.com.au – again, no pressure.
After receiving email confirmation that I had been deemed as having a vogue idea I started my 8-month internship, working 2 days a week 8:30am-6pm.
I was tasked with uploading contributor content, editing images, transcribing interviews and writing for the online platforms. Initially this was an incredible experience touching on all aspects of the emerging digital landscape of journalism I was ecstatic!
The expectation was for me to be writing articles that were published on their website, and publicised over their social media accounts. In addition to writing the content, you were also required to use Photoshop to format any imagery into their specs, proof everything yourself, and then upload it via their CMS (Content Management System- the ‘behind-the-scenes’ of a website, used to publish and update content).
Majority of the time they would give me the topics to write about-
“we’re doing a Victoria’s Secret piece on the models and who their boyfriends are.” Cue my afternoon of scrolling through the model’s Instagram accounts to find photos of them with their boyfriends #relationshipgoals.
On other occasions, I would need to come up with a list of ideas for the Head of Digital or the Features Director. I would receive, “yes to this one, no to this one”, and so off I would go and write them. Not all pieces gave me such creative opportunity however. For news articles I would produce, if someone had a baby for example, often these were carbon copies, “Don’t write it yourself- copy one that we’ve already done and just insert the different names.”
The months dragged on
However as the months dragged along I slowly became jaded and despondent with the process – I tired of the constant pressure, expectation and lack of direction and feedback from superiors – I began to wonder if fashion journalism was for me?
Adding to the pressure was the office culture which, was very exclusive of interns- it was a very cliquey group. Staff/Intern chat was always shallow- “Oh you went there on the weekend, love that place!” I would have much preferred, “You’re really good at editorial. Is that what you’re interested in? Would you like to have a go at this?”
Not to totally dash the dreams of the future Andy Sachs’ (Devil Wears Prada reference) among us – this internship although tiring at times did set me in good steed for the real world work environment. I got to see what it’s like getting up and going to work everyday – that not matter how you feel get up, get dressed and turn up! Sometimes with internships you’ve got a lot of free time and you’re sitting around, but I was constantly tasked at Vogue with crazy deadlines, running at the pace of the rest of the staff just like real work!
If you were deadest on being a fashion journalist, you would get a lot out of it – plus one day a pay check too.
Was it worth it?
Given my time again would I walk the halls of Vogue? I’d have to say definitely the fact I can now place Vogue on my CV – as superficial, pun intended, as that may be it is an invaluable assets. Plus I was able to publish a lot of pieces with a byline and build a portfolio of my work. An added bonus of being for Vogue online as opposed to print, meant that I could show the levels of engagement on my articles- how many impressions it received, likes, comments and their sentiment. This was incredible collateral for me to be able to show in interviews and definitely assisted me in landing my first job.
In terms of what I took away from the internship I would have to say was a sense of initative because looking back it was never really explained to me what the process of a Vogue intern was, and how long I was in this sort of holding pattern.
This is probably what I found the hardest and most disheartening. Do I work for a year and then at the end of that year I may be considered for a job, or you’ll assist me in getting a position somewhere else? What’s the plan? Unfortunately it was more, “keep plodding along and creating articles for us.” I felt like a mouse on the wheel and from this I learnt that unless you ask you shall not receive.
In Vogue’s defence, they probably didn’t have a role for me to go into so they couldn’t justify dangling the carrot in front of me, or angling me a certain way. Some internship will lead to a job, but unfortunately for me they didn’t have the capacity to hire me. The fact that I stayed there for eight months was reflective of my commitment to a role and that I was dedicated and willing to work in an industry unpaid for so long, which is notably valuable to have on your CV.
Granted the chance to rewind, there are a few things I would have done differently from the beginning. If you find yourself with Vogue, or anyone for that matter, have the confidence to ask the following questions:
- How long is this internship for?
- What do you expect from me, or what would you like me to do during this period? What are my KPIs? Tell them what you’re interested in also.
- What do I get at the end of this? Is it a letter of recommendation, a potential interview for a role here? It’s important that you know you’re going there, working for free, for ‘X’.
While ensuring you have your own expectations managed, by marking up the flags, you’re also saying to the company that they cannot string you along. Do not be afraid to ask questions, you’re not supposed to know everything; do not be surprised if you’re stressed, you’re there to work; do not be afraid to ask questions, you need to; and be polite, you will be asked to “rearrange the magazines” from time to time.