Valentina and I met while completing our Master in Luxury and Fashion Management of Il Sole 24 – the business school created by the Italian newspaper of the same name. We attended the same classes and had had to take part in various projects during this six-month course. If we have a different background – I graduated in management engineering while she did in Linguistics and International relations – we are both the proof that it is possible to start a career in fashion/luxury without attending a fashion school. Besides the classes, to complete our master we needed an internship. Valentina did hers in the PR & Communications department of an Italian lifestyle and luxury brand known for its bags. In this interview, I want to show you how you can get into the fashion industry and what an intern does in a PR & Communications team within a fashion company. Valentina will also give some advice to get your internship interview and the job you always wanted.
1. We both took the master in Luxury and Fashion Management of Il Sole 24 Ore, why did you decide to do this course?
Since I am a child, I have always been passionate about fashion. Leafing through magazines made me dream about this world. My dad and uncle run a textile factory, and my grandmother was a dressmaker; so I think this industry runs deep through my veins. After my bachelor degree, I didn’t want to do the master following it because it was more economy-driven and I have always prefered humanities. Hence why I decided to pursue my passion by doing this Luxury and Fashion Management master. I look for information about different type of masters in Milan, and I ended up choosing this one.
Do you think it is necessary to study something related to fashion to work in this industry?
Sometimes I felt at disadvantage during the master because some people already did a fashion course knew a little bit more than me. Nonetheless, I think I am the proof that with a degree that is not fashion-related, you can still be part of this sector. I think you just need to be curious. If you are interested and willing to learn you will quickly look for the things you lack and need by yourself.
How did you understand which role was a fit for you when you started looking for your first internship?
During my studies, I discovered I was interested in the communications world. So, maybe because I was a little bit scared to try something else knowing I lacked the business background I restrained myself from careers like buyer or merchandiser. The good way to understand what you like is trying, starting from somewhere, because it is only doing so you will understand where you belong.
What does an intern in PR & Communications do in a fashion company?
An intern in PR & Communications takes care of the operations management of events, presentations and press days. For this reason, you will need to create event lists, send invitations, make reports, debrief post-event, handle the press and help with the presentation of the collection and shipping of the samples. You will also be in charge of doing clippings of magazines and internal communications to keep the people in the company and all the PR network informed about what is happening in the business. Other tasks include maintaining contacts with agencies for collaborations, celebrities endorsement, help the product PR manager with the selection of products to send to the PR network of the brand. Finally, if you work in an Italian company, you will have to translate in English the copy for the lookbook.
How does a PR & Communications department work with magazines?
The magazine sends me an email explaining me the theme of the campaign they want to shoot and asking me for the look of the collections. From the look, they make their choice, and according to the availability, I manage their sending and return. A specific software records the whole process.
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What did you learn during your internship?
I have learned so much. I never did photocopies or coffees; I immediately started working. Nonetheless, the first months I felt a little bit uncomfortable because I was afraid I didn’t make the right choice. But I was persistent, and things changed. An internship is beneficial and formative because it helps you assess your strengths and weaknesses.
This experience enabled me understanding what does working in communications really mean, for me who only studied it. I can now put in practice what I learned during my studies along with the knowledge acquired during my internship.
During these six months, I had the pleasure not only to work with my team but also collaborate with other teams within the marketing department.
In merchandising, I learned to read and understand the specificities of every product, use the system emphasising the PR selection data and transpose them to Excel. In trade marketing, I observed what were their daily tasks – from the preparation of press releases for the promotion of their stores to the realisation of an event in store. I also learned how a photographer works to create a lookbook.
Finally, through the monthly global marketing meetings organised by the Global Marketing Director, I enjoyed finding out the objectives the company set to itself and wanted to achieve before the end of the year along with the strategies to realise them.
7. What advice do you have for someone looking for an internship in fashion and what is, in your opinion, the best approach to have to get the job in a company?
Just go for it and don’t be disheartened if things don’t go your way at the beginning. During the interview, make yourself confident and tell what made you want to apply for the position. Show you know the brand and company. Before my interview, I went to the store of the brand and asked a sales assistant information about their new campaign, and it proved useful when they asked me my opinion about it. This visit in store helped give more technical details. Show what you can give to the company and what is your objective. Be a multitasker because the working environment is a lot more dynamic than the university, where you can take your time.