How to Survive an Internship

The stereotype that students are lazy with bad time keeping is dated. Congratulations - if you are a current or recent student, you have taken part in changing perception. With rising tuition fees in a post-recession job market, students have been made to work increasingly hard to get noticed and bag a job. A student lifestyle survey carried out by The Complete University Guide in 2014 states that a lack of funds and the pressures of academic workloads are among the reasons behind students socialising less. Even though graduate jobs are on the rise, the survey points out that today's generation of students worry about gaining a high classification, as well as future career prospects. The need for students to get the most out of their degree is making the possibility of an internship increasingly important, but with money stretched and the majority of fashion internships being unpaid/partly paid, how are interns supposed to get by? Here is my guide to surviving an internship.

Coffee starts at home:

In the fashion industry, it is easy to buy into trends. What was once trendy to drink out of a branded take out cup is now all the fashion to drink from home. The thought of walking into your internship with a Starbucks in hand is tempting, but it is becoming increasingly acceptable to carry your homemade coffee in a stylish travel cup. Step into any high street store such as New Look or Primark and you will be graced with these quirky containers in a range of designs, or if you are a coffee brand queen Costa and Starbucks have their own versions.

Starbucks Belfast

Get a Job in Retail Fashion: 

Working in an internship you want to feel good and make a good impression, but how are you going to look smart without a full-time wage? Staff discount my friend, staff discount. Working in fashion retail is a great way to get further experience in the fashion industry and with the addition of a steady wage and perks of the job, you can save you a small fortune. Topshop, for example, do not just offer discount within the brand, staff receive 25% across the whole Arcadia group. Other brands such as New Look and Coast offer 50% staff discount. Although you could be working a five-day week in your internship, squeezing in some paid work is a must to get by. However, make sure you get at least one day off a week from both jobs or else you will get exhausted pretty quickly.

River Island Belfast

Use Public Transport:

Admittedly, I have fallen victim to sacrificing saving money on travel for an extra five minutes in bed. However, I have kicked the habit and opted for public transport. With train and bus ticket prices rising faster than inflation, there is no need to put yourself even more out of pocket by going private and in some cases, paying extortionate parking fees. Sometimes, it is optional to obtain a 'pay as you go' type travel card that can save you money such as Metro Smartlink and iLink cards available in Belfast. 

Know What You're Owed:

That's right, you are out in the big bad world of work now and it's time to know your finances. Everything from student loans to student discount in stores, it all adds up. Just remember that you are owed certain rights just as the paid employees are, for example, you can book time off for holidays, within reason. Talk to your employer and ask when would be the best time to do so, the last thing you want to do is leave your colleagues struggling. 

Intern Insights:

I talk to fashion interns Kerry Smyth and Jamie Baird to find out their tips on making the most of a fashion internship. I asked them if they had any advice on getting through the year. 

Jamie Baird - Graphic Design Intern

Jamie advises interns to be confident, embrace each day and have fun.
Immerse yourself in the experience, grab the challenges it brings by the horns and don't forget to enjoy yourself in the process!

Kerry Smyth - Fashion Intern 

Kerry believes that team spirit is the key to gaining a positive experience, it's all about the office morale!
“Team work makes the dream work

To view Jamie's illustration work visit - jamiebeard.co.uk.
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The Story Behind the Style

After a visit to the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum, I have gained a new appreciation for the past. The trip reminded me that we take so much influence from bygone eras, sometimes not even knowing the history behind the style. If you have set foot in any high street store lately you will see that vintage has been made mainstream. Not preloved clothes per say, but preloved style - the sixties and seventies are as strong a trend as ever. Today I talk to vintage homeware trader Betty Orr about why the past is so important and I hear from Elaine Lavery, my mum, who has experienced the height of seventies fashion the first time around.

The last time I visited the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum, I was a little child. My memory of it was hazy but to be honest I didn't expect to enjoy it as much as an adult. I was pleasantly surprised. The museum is a time capsule, taking you on a journey from the eighteen hundereds right up to the eighties. Interestingly, snippets of today's creative culture were found in these windows to the past, from classic suitcases to Belfast's 1970s trolley buses.

Picture House - Ulster Folk Museum 
One era that stood out to me on my visit was the late '60s to early '70s, this timeframe is a very current source of inspiration for this season's fashion. Of course, there is a contemporary twist, however walking into some high street stores most definitely feels like a time warp. I am not just talking flared jeans and fedora hats here, from interiors to fashion - this once dated epoch is now considered fashion forward and modern. But why is it that the past is now trendy? 

Betty Orr trades vintage homewares under the acclaimed company name Betty's Lounge. Celebrated in Belfast and beyond. Betty Orr admits that our society is looking to the past because today's furniture is being created to fulfil a basic need, however, we need more than that, and that's where the past comes in.

Unfortunately, the furniture that is massed produced and used in today's society is quite often purchased without thought other than to fulfil a basic need, we are on a mission to educate and supply people with not only the basic need of furniture and homewares but to offer this along with good design, build quality and elegance.

Orr insightfully points out similarities between the homeware and fashion industry. She highlights that there are different sectors within each industry that offer their own interpretation of merchandise to the masses.

Furniture and fashion design have mirrored each other right throughout the last 50 years. In fashion there are pioneers all throughout the industry from high end to high street that try to offer items to the masses that differ from the basic needs, again the two worlds of fashion design and furniture parallel again.

1970s Poster Art at the Ulster Transport Museum 

Summer of Seventies at ASOS

1960s Living Room Replica - Ulster Transport Museum

You only need to walk into any high street store to see the regurgitated version of this adored style where rust oranges are contrasted with a mustard shade of yellow and crochet cardigans are made cool. But how was the trend way back when it made an appearance for the very first time? I talk to Elaine Lavery to hear her thoughts on growing up in the height of '70s fashion.

“Our flares came in a rainbow of colours - orange, yellow, royal blue, you name it. I think the '70s may have come from an aftermath of the hippy movement in the 60's. I tended to hang about in strides and t-shirts paired with platforms I stole from my sister’s wardrobe. You didn’t need to buy a lot, you borrowed and swapped back in them days. It was simple.”

There is no doubt that the past serves a purpose in today's fashion, we take influence from the 'it' looks of previous times when women of former decades sported a different style. A point that both Betty Orr and my mum makes is that the quality back then is something that we don't see as often today. With fast fashion at the forefront of our generation, trends move so quickly and it's hard to keep up. Maybe as well as adopting hand me down colour palettes and retro patterns we could adopt the hand me down culture. Reviving the longer lasting pieces that are good enough to pass on to a younger sister, or even a daughter. After looking at pictures of my parents in the heyday. I wish she had of kept a few pieces for me. Vintage in the family? Why not!

Check out some of my favourite vintage shops in Belfast:

Betty's Lounge

Betty's Lounge is a vintage homeware company situated at - 1 Main Street Ballyclare or alternatively like their Facebook page.

The Vintage Magpie

The Vintage Magpie is a clothing vintage store situated at - 5 Rosemary Street Belfast City Centre or follow them on Facebook.

Kloth Vintage

Kloth Vintage is a trendy clothing vintage retailer that sells through kilo sales and online through ASOS Marketplace. Find them on Facebook here.

Oxfam Vintage

Oxfam Vintage is a charity shop that sells vintage specific pieces, the store is situated at - 8 Castle Street in Belfast City Centre or visit their Facebook page.

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