Started From the Bottom Now We’re Here: Intern to Full Time in No Time

As a post-grad 10 months out of college, I have found myself searching endlessly for the secret formula or magic trick to getting hired. What I have come to learn in my job search is that the truth is there is no exact science or formula to getting hired. At an intimate panel from Find & Follow Your Passion: A Career in Fashion Conference at LIM College, four fashionistas shared their insights on how they utilized their internships to get to where they are today.


From left to right: Zaianna Ortiz (Head of Marketing at Latin Markets), Alexander Romero (Assistant Buyer at Tom Ford), Candace Sautman (Associate PM/Producer at Refinery 29, Inc.), Katherine Harris (Senior Account Executive- Brand Marketing at Porter Novelli)

The panelists shared 6 Ways to Make an Impression as an Intern: (Note: Use these tips from day 1 of your internship)

1. Create Connections:

  • “Make strong connections with everyone,” says Alexander of Tom Ford.
  • “Find someone you get along with from your internship and create a relationship with them, go out with them outside of the office, and form genuine connections and networks,” describes Candace of Refinery 29, Inc.

2. Stand Out in a Way That You Are Comfortable:

  • “Have a personality, be a person. Everyone loves to have fun and get the job done,” explains Alexander.

3. Work it:

  • “Take on as much work as possible. Make an impact,” says Alexander.

4. Become Vested in the Company Before They Hire You:

  • Zaianna of Latin Markets explains that as an intern, she knew all the organizational processes and how the business ran so well that the CEO would ask her questions about the company’s business processes.
  • Become invaluable to the company.
  • Get to the point where the company needs you more than you need them.

5. Take Initiative:

  • “Make an impression. Be really, really passionate about what you do and take on lots of projects,” says Katherine of Porter Novelli.
  • “Find out what you were brought on for & be the best at it,” says Zaianna.
  • “Always be asking, ‘What else can I do?’ Take on more responsibility. Even something as small as adding a column to an Excel spreadsheet that will help take some report to the next level can make a lasting impression,” explains Alexander.
  • “Ask to sit in on your boss’s meetings. Explain that you would like to gain as much experience as possible,” suggests Candace.

6. Speak Up:

  • “Go to whoever you report to directly and ask to meet every two weeks to get feedback on how you are doing. Once this dialogue is started, you can also ask to take on more work,” suggests Candace. Open communication and dialogue with your supervisors is key to your success at any company.
  • “Add your own insights. Create that rapport from the beginning so that your opinion becomes a trusted and valued one,” says Candace.

The last question the panelists were asked was: What is the one thing that led to you being hired?

Katherine Harris responded, “Connections,” explaining that her first job in the New York City came from having dinner in New York with someone who used to intern where she was interning in Texas. Katherine explained they had dinner, and she never saw the office, but that once a job opened up, they reached out to her with an offer.

Candace Sautman responded, “Taking a really big risk!” She described that she dropped out of college her last semester of her senior year for an internship she received at Marie Claire. She is originally from mid-Missouri and moving to New York and dropping out of school for an internship was a decision that was not taken lightly. If it weren’t for that internship though, she never would have been offered  an assistant position and later worked at Michael Kors. She also described that she started as a PR + Events full-time unpaid intern at Refinery 29, Inc. and made a big impression. She gave criticism and shared her opinions on how the company could improve. She worked every day as an unpaid intern, in addition to commuting two hours each day, and working two other jobs on the weekend. Her hard work and dedication stood out and paid off as they eventually created a position for her.

Alexander Romero shared that he switched his degree in college from Nursing to Fashion. For him, taking that leap of faith is what was crucial to his getting hired in the fashion industry. He said, “I wouldn’t be the person I am today or live in the city I love unless I took that leap.”

The panelist’s insights were very inspiring and empowering. It was reassuring to hear that no journey is free of hard-work, doubts, and struggles, and that in the end, it all pays off. You just have to find and follow your passion, and with hard work, the rest will fall into place.

What are the best tips you have received for making a good and lasting impression as an intern? Let us know in the comments.


About the Author

Taylor was the Community Outreach Assistant at FindSpark in the summer of 2014 and loves the FindSpark community. She recently accepted a full-time position and has relocated to Durham, North Carolina. For more on her, follow her @funkyinnovator and check out her website:

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