Interning at Vivienne Westwood
Read about Beth’s summer internship at iconic fashion brand, Vivienne Westwood.
Written by Beth Poulter, BA (Hons) Fashion Communication & Promotion.
How I got the internship
During the summer of my second year I knew I needed to start interning. I had kept my eye on websites such as Fashion Workie, even though I was almost too scared to reply for fear of rejection. After forming and re-forming my portfolio I eventually pressed ‘send’. I did not even expect to receive a ‘we’ve received your application’ type of response. I applied for around 10 positions, only one of whom actually responded to my application.
Upon hearing that the team at Vivienne Westwood would like me to attend an interview, I was absolutely ecstatic. Reaching the interview stage felt like a massive achievement in itself and a foot inside a very large door. Having only ever worked in a small cafe in my hometown, I had never attended an interview before. The thought of an interview at arguably the most iconic British fashion houses was extremely intimidating. I found comfort in reminding myself that I had absolutely nothing to lose.
Starting the Internship
I followed the advice of family, friends (and google) and somehow managed to do enough to secure a three month internship with the company. I was e-mailed the news by a member of HR just a few days later. I genuinely couldn’t believe that my first ever interview, with little to no experience, could have gone quite so well. I spent three months as the only intern within the visual merchandising department of the company, primarily based at the Battersea studios. I worked alongside three others who collectively design and maintain Vivienne’s stores in the UK, Europe and Asia.
Getting stuck into work
During my first few weeks, I expected the worst and hoped for the best. Interns within fashion have a ‘The Devil Wear’s Prada’ stereotype of fetching coffee and photocopying. Thankfully, this was not the case. During my time at Vivienne Westwood I created visuals for Visual Merchandising guides for their stores across Europe.
The guides explained how the store windows should look, shown via a Computer Aided Design drawing of the store, including recommended styled mannequin outfits and prop arrangements. This ensured consistency across all stores. It’s surprising how much more familiar you can suddenly become at Photoshop when tasked with creating window concept mockups for stores all around Europe.
I spent a large amount of time conducting research on behalf of the company. This included visiting competitor stores and collating information in to ‘Competitor Shop’ reports. This information I gathered during the three months was also extremely useful for my personal creative practice and is now forming the basis of my dissertation.
Tips on How to Succeed at an Internship
From my experience (albeit limited) I have a few tips for anyone who has an internship lined up:
- Don’t be the last to arrive in the morning. Aim to arrive roughly 15 mins before your start time.
- Be chatty and helpful. Always look to be productive and try and problem solve on your own. Your boss has more important things to do than to constantly help you.
- That being said, don’t be afraid to ask for help, you learn quicker and the more you learn the more helpful you become
- Never make a drink without asking your colleagues if they would like one!
- Never leave without finishing what you’re working on and asking if there’s anything else you can help with. This will always be appreciated and speak volumes about your character.
Go for it
The last (and probably most important) piece of advice I would give to anyone thinking of interning is to go for it. Interning is the way in to almost every creative industry and it will be worth your time. Speak to guest lecturers and keep your eye on the internship websites for your industry. Start saving whenever you can. Almost all internships are unpaid, and most are in London – unfortunately this is just the reality. Living in London on no pay is impossible so it’s great if you’re able to have some savings behind you.
Lastly, don’t underestimate yourself! Use your initiative and work hard, it will pay off.
"It is no secret that the creative industry is built on connections, and often the best connections we can make as students are each other."