How To Be A Rock-Star Intern: Tips From Industry Insiders & Their Interns

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Landing an internship is only the beginning when it comes to cultivating an enduring and fruitful career. But once you've gotten the acceptance from your dream company, how to really get the most out of your apprenticeship can be a mystery.
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After speaking with supervisors and their student protégés from the likes of Tory Burch, MTV, and of course, College Fashionista, we're breaking down all you need to know in our internship 101 crash course. Click through to read tips, anecdotes, and insight from bosses and interns alike, and maybe you'll be one step closer to that full-time gig you've been working so hard for.
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Elizabeth Taufield, intern, Tory Burch

When a problem comes up or you make a mistake, how do you deal with it?
"I quickly try to fix it and make sure it doesn’t happen again."

How did you know this partnership would be beneficial and a good fit for you?
"It was organic. I had always been inspired by the Tory Burch brand, and when I started working with Ally [Lewis] and the creative team, everything just clicked. They have a clear vision and make me feel part of the team. It's amazing to feel a sense of ownership and pride coming to work every day."

How has your perspective on fashion changed since beginning your experience with the company?
"I’ve learned that at a brand, it's important to understand the mission of the company as well as what's happening in the market."

Where do you see yourself in five years?
"I hope to be doing something that involves storytelling, whether that means styling, writing, creative directing, or a combination of all three, which I think would be a dream."

What is the best advice you have been given?
"I was in London last semester taking classes at the London College of Fashion. At our graduation, we were told to never forget these five words: “Always do a little more.” It really stuck with me because I think at the end of the day, you can achieve your goals by going the extra mile."

What have you learned from your supervisor?
"Ally has taught me to maintain grace under pressure."

What’s the importance of a good boss?
"A good boss can really act as a mentor — through your internship and beyond. At Tory Burch, I've been lucky to build long-term relationships with people who inspire me."

Photographed by Noa Griffel
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Ally Lewis, creative operations associate, Tory Burch

When a problem comes up or you make a mistake, how do you deal with it?
"Our creative director Honor Brodie, who I've been lucky enough to work with for the past six years, has taught me to handle issues as soon as they arise. It's important to always be transparent and honest — admit to the mistake, communicate openly with those affected, learn the lesson, and move on."

How did you know this partnership (intern-boss) would be beneficial and a good fit for you?
"Elizabeth really understood the Tory Burch brand from the beginning — she quickly grasped how we work and what we are trying to achieve. Now she’s a key part of our team and has learned to anticipate what's next."

How has your perspective on fashion changed since beginning your experience with the company?
"The fashion industry, especially digital media and branded content, is constantly evolving. The landscape is much different today than it was five, or even two, years ago — it makes our jobs so exciting. While it’s important to stay on top of everything, it’s equally as important to be patient and thoughtful, too."

What is the best advice you have been given?
"My dad has told me since I was little, 'Be nice to everyone.'"

What have you learned from each other?
"Elizabeth has taught me how to be a manager — a learned skill that takes a lot of practice. It is important to coach and encourage while also promoting efficient, smart work."

What’s the importance of having a good intern?
"It's critical — great businesses have great interns behind them. A great intern makes everyone's jobs easier. He/she should be curious, ambitious, discreet, willing to do the small things (because they are important, too), and two steps ahead of you."

How was your first work experience?
"My first job out of college was as an assistant for the head of marketing at a beauty company. I really lucked out — the whole team was incredibly kind and patient with me. I learned a lot and loved it, but I knew that I wanted to move into fashion. It was through a colleague there that I did, a year later."

Photo: Courtesy of CollegeFashionista
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Catherine Dugas, intern, College Fashionista

How do you deal with problems that may arise or mistakes you may have made?
"If a problem arises, I always try and find a solution before having to trouble anyone else with it. It’s always important to step back and relax — it will make finding the solution and your life much easier."

How did you know this partnership would be beneficial and a good fit for you?
"I knew this partnership would be beneficial to me for the simple reason that I’m a student willing to learn anything and everything there is to know about the fashion industry. I knew I would be able to gain a lot from interning with Amy [Levin] because she’s an incredible innovator and entrepreneur who has accomplished so much at such a young age — she’s an inspiration!"

How has your perspective on fashion changed since beginning your experience with the company?
"Well, I’ve grown to see that the fashion industry is much smaller than you may think. Everyone knows each other so it’s imperative to make good impressions when meeting someone new. I’ve also learned that there are countless small details that help run a large business, and they make all the difference in the world. Attention to detail is key."

Where do you see yourself in five years?
"Well, I will have graduated from college and ideally have a job offer that will allow me to keep living here in New York."

What is the best advice you have been given?
"A little bird (a.k.a. Amy) once told me that you mustn’t ever take fashion too seriously — you should be able to have fun with it. It makes it that much more enjoyable."

What have you learned from your supervisor?
"Amy lets me help out with so many opportunities I otherwise would never have the chance to be a part of. I love that she has enough trust in me to give me responsibilities that actually help run the CollegeFashionista business as a whole. Most importantly, Amy has taught me that interns are a valued and very important part to any business, and she definitely makes me feel appreciated on a daily basis."

What’s the importance of having a good boss?
"The importance of having a good boss is crucial especially in an internship setting because you need to be able to walk away from the experience knowing you learned something from them. I love a boss who can be friendly while simultaneously having the ability to delegate tasks, and that’s exactly what Amy represents. Having a good boss makes all the difference in the world — it’s a large reason of why I love coming to work every day."

Photo: Courtesy of CollegeFashionista
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Amy Levin, founder, CollegeFashionista

How do you deal with problems that may arise or mistakes you may have made?
"Problems arise daily — that is part of running a business. When I first started CollegeFashionista, I was completely irrational when it came to issues arising. Now I have learned how to deal with problems in a productive manner. I’ve realized things will always get sorted out; it’s just a matter of time, experience, and having a plan of action."

How did you know this partnership would be beneficial and a good fit for you?
"I always look for interns that I see myself in and feel I can mentor to benefit their future careers. My bosses at my various internships played a huge role in my success today, and I want to pass that same guidance along to others. Catherine is one of the most professional, ambitious, and eager interns I have worked with. There isn’t a task she can’t handle, and I love watching her grow on a daily basis."

Where do you see yourself in five years?
"My goal is that CollegeFashionista will be a fashion and lifestyle brand that completely dominates the college space. We will have expanded into new verticals of the business, such as merchandise, a book, and more. The sky is the limit, and I am up for the challenge to make this business as strong as it can possibly be."

What is the best advice you have been given?
"My father always told me, 'The cream rises to the top. Be the cream.'”

What have you learned from each other?
"I am a very organized, but Catherine is insanely organized. She keeps me on track and is always one step ahead of me."

What’s the importance of having a good intern?
"A good intern is a two-way street. Catherine works incredibly hard and she is passionate about the company, which is so key and inspiring. Because of all she does for the company, I like to reciprocate and give back to her. I try to expose Catherine to as much as possible so that every day she leaves learning something new."

Photo: Courtesy of CollegeFashionista
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Carolyn Amurao, editorial/production intern, MTV News

When a problem comes up or you make a mistake, how do you deal with it?
"When a problem comes up, I think it’s important to stay calm, take initiative, and be creative. And if I make a mistake then it’s a priority to fix it right away. You have to be accountable and efficient because your mistake can cause problems for other people (not cool)."

How did you know this partnership would be beneficial and a good fit for you?
"When I met Liz [Lancaster] for the first time during my interview, I already knew the internship would be a good fit and that we’d work well together. As a boss, Liz is easy-going and considerate. She trusted me with bigger responsibilities, so I felt like I learned a lot and gained confidence in myself."

How has your perspective on fashion changed since beginning your experience with the company?
"Interning at MTV News for my entire senior year influenced my perspective on fashion, because by the end of it, I realized I wanted to look less like a college kid and more like a young, employable adult. So, I looked at my wardrobe and thought, 'Okay, maybe I need less graphic T-shirts and more collared blouses.'"

Where do you see yourself in five years?
"In five years I see myself as an editor at a magazine or online publication, living in my own NYC apartment and maybe having a puppy."

What is the best advice you have been given?
"My mom always tells me to get out of my comfort zone."

What have you learned from your supervisor?
"Liz has taught me the importance of being professional and organized even when things get hectic. She has a lot of responsibilities in her position, and for me, when I know I have a lot to do, I can get overwhelmed. But you just have to focus and get things done one at a time."

What’s the importance of having a good boss?
"Having a good boss is essential to your experience at an internship. If you don’t feel comfortable with your boss, you might not learn as much as possible. You should feel comfortable to speak up, ask questions, and engage in conversation. Also, if you have a great boss an internship becomes more fun and enjoyable, which I think is important especially if you’re not getting paid."

Photo: Courtesy of CollegeFashionista
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Elizabeth Lancaster, production assistant, MTV

When a problem comes up or you make a mistake, how do you deal with it?
"By addressing actions and not people."

How did you know this partnership would be beneficial and a good fit for you?
"Carolyn had great experience that made her a fit for the department, and approached her interview with confidence and the perfect amount of flair, so I knew she would be able to handle anything I asked her for."

How has your perspective on fashion changed since beginning your experience with the company?
"MTV is a very casual environment so it gives me the freedom to be as stylized as I’d like. Being around so many creatives and working with talent has over time inspired me to be more innovative when putting things together, and not be afraid to push trend boundaries."

Where do you see yourself in five years?
"In five years I’d like to be a producer on a morning show such as Good Morning America or the Today show.

What is the best advice you have been given?
"Your attitude creates every experience."

What have you learned from each other?
"Carolyn has always been very sure of herself and she taught me how important that trait is in an intern!"

What’s the importance of having a good intern?
"That’s how people start in this industry, people remember a good intern, and will always try to help them along, whether it's fresh out of school or 10 years down the road, the relationships are very important. For that reason, being a good boss is also important, taking the time to learn what they want to get out of their experience, and offering them guidance when it is over."

How was your experience interning?
"My experience was very positive. I had a strong relationship with my boss, and we worked together to figure out my strengths and find a place for me in the company after graduation. We always felt that it was the right fit."

How do you see internships or interns differ now from when you were an intern?
"I think our internship process has gotten stricter and more corporate since we transitioned to paying versus receiving credit. It is also more important now for interns to create opportunities for themselves outside of interning, i.e. having a blog or a social media following."

Photo: Courtesy of CollegeFashionista
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