After being lucky enough to have recently completed a work experience placement on the Fashion section at The Times, I found myself surprised by a number of not-what-I-expected moments. In fact, nearly everything that really contradicted the Devil Wears Prada stereotype of fashion-journalism internships. So, rather than listing what I did (there’s a million and one blogs that will tell you that), here’s what didn’t happen:
1) I met no ‘fashion-daahling’ types. In fact, everyone was down-to-earth and very hard workers. Nobody sneered when I didn’t know the answer to something, but they were grateful and gracious when I asked questions (no matter how small or silly). Yes, they were well dressed – what do you expect? – but people rarely clopped about in heels and diamonds. Friendly and practical was the general air, which made for a healthy, hard-working mentality.
2) I didn’t make one cup of tea. I offered, many times. In fact, probably too many times (as it turns out, the drinks machine at The Times was free-for-all, and had the best hot chocolate. I could barely keep myself at my desk when I knew free, unlimited hot chocolate was a mere twenty paces away). However, any maid-like duties were kindly refused. Whilst this was only a small detail, it meant a lot to be treated as a fellow worker when I was very aware of my inferior status. I would have come in early to hand-polish their desks if they’d asked (reeking of desperation) but thankfully this never transpired.
3) I found out that money does not make the world go round. As a student with a well-exercised overdraft limit, I was very aware of handling items of clothing in the fashion cupboard that cost more than a year’s rent. But amongst these rarities, there was a plentiful supply of high street gear, and an attitude to mula that I found, frankly, a relief. A particular revelation was the Editor (the big dawg) asking for my views on particular high street stores – had their OTT prices gone too far to make them viable options for normal shoppers? ‘YES!’ I thought. It’s what I spend most of my time thinking about when I walk around the bullring. Unfortunately, my shock at being asked for an actual opinion meant that my answer was less than eloquent. But hopefully she got the gist.
TOP TIP: To secure this work experience, I bit the bullet and rang The Times directly - they are inundated with emails of wok experience request, so a phone call makes all the difference when trying to get yourself noticed.
Written by Sarah Musgrove