Interning at PFW during the Pandemic – September 2020
From September 28th to October 6th, Fashion Week colored the city of Paris. The Official Calendar counted 84 houses. Presentations and fashion shows took place both digitally and physically. For the first time Parsons Paris collaborated with Federation de la Haute Couture et de la Mode, the major actor at Paris Fashion Week. Our students Lara, Noor and Zena had the unique opportunity to intern with them. They had the unique chance to work with SPHERE, a Paris Fashion Week showroom who brought together ten houses between well known and new brands. This experiences are “once in a life time experiences,” tells Zéna.
The application process was a little bit different from the other times, but surprisingly “very quick and easy.” After sending their applications, Lara and Zéna had to do a zoom interview, and then they were soon confirmed the position. “If you have a strong CV that not only describes but visually represents you well, then you are half way there,” suggests Zéna. One important thing to always keep in mind while doing the interview is to show a genuine interest in working for the brand. Lara tells that “one of the requirements for the job was speaking fluent French.” Learning French and get to know the French culture is very important; after all, we are living in Paris! “French business culture can be very frustrating when coming from the US,” shares with us Zéna, “but learn to handle everything with a responsive work ethic, as well as a smile, and you’ll be all set.”
This Paris Fashion Week was definitely different from the others: the number of people who worked and attended the shows was much lower, and the sanity measures were new for everybody. “The showroom was much less busy than usual, everyone was required to wear masks and we had to take the temperature at the reception before entering,” tells Lara. But these changes also brought new opportunities. During the time of her internship, Lara had the opportunity to take directly with the designers who she was working for: “they shared their journey with me, and told me about the struggles of creating your own brand. [They] also gave me great tips for my future in fashion.” Two skills that Noor has learned with this internship were patience and communication. “My job was to take in the buyers and the press’s details, such as email, phone number etc. and welcome them into the showroom. It seems like a simple task but requires constant attentiveness and responsibility.”
Another of our students, Andrea, interned as a model. She applied through Job Teaser, and after a short interview, she got the job. Especially during the first days, the job was very tiring and demanding: “it was a lot of walking (in heels)” tells Andrea. But toward the end the work became less intense. Thanks to this internship Andrea has gained more “awareness of how a showroom works,” and she has learnt how to talk to clients and fashion teams.” Andrea highlights as well the importance of having a strong and well presented CV and the importance of speaking fluent French. She also gave some tips about how to dress for an interview: “wear simple black clothes, not too much makeup or accessories.”
Internships are intense experience of learning, so both Lara and Zéna, underline the importance of putting you shyness aside, and ask questions, be curious. “The training at the arrival can be sometimes overwhelming, but if you bring a pencil, notebook and a positive attitude, you are sure to succeed. The first day is meant for you to ask questions so don’t be shy,” suggests Zéna.
Another important tip is to wear comfortable shoes, because you will likely be (literally) running from one task to the other, and be extremely time efficient, because everyone during fashion week is extremely busy, and learning to make the most of every minute is very important.
Virginie Grillet, Director of Career and Internships at Parsons Paris, suggest updating your resume as soon as each internship is over, so that everything will still be fresh in your memory and it will be easier to write out the details. It is also good to always send a thank you email to your supervisor and the people you have met during the internship, and connect with them on Linkedin to keep in touch.
“My number one tip for people trying to make the most of their experience it is to be open and approachable but also to approach and to take the opportunities into your hands,” suggests Lara. Thanks to this attitude, Lara is still in contact with one of the people she worked with; and this contact allowed her to keep on working with the brand even after Paris Fashion Week was over.■