Struggling to get that killer internship? We spoke to some of the top figures within the beauty industry for their tips on how to get your foot through the door…
Securing that incredible internship can be the kick-start you need for an amazing career but it’s hard to know where to start. You’re overwhelmed with various opportunities (some of which may not necessary be right for you), not sure what potential employers are looking for and need to stand out in a sea of equally qualified candidates.
We spoke to four women who have all worked their way to the top of their respective professions to see what it takes to get a beauty internship. From marketing and journalism, to PR and makeup artistry, here’s advice from those who have gone through it all…
KNOW WHERE TO LOOK
When applying for internships, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed by the various types of positions out there. If you’re interested in going into a specific sector, it’s important to know which websites display the best opportunities for your chosen industry.
Kate Hart, Head of Atelier, Marketing and Communication at Josh Wood Atelier, says, “A successful internship can open many doors in the beauty industry so it is important to get it right. The best websites to find any current vacancies are Diary Directory, CEW (Cosmetic Executive Women) and of course Get the Job. If there are none that appeal to you then take the initiative to contact the company directly and send over your C.V.”
DEMONSTRATE COMMITMENT TO YOUR AREA OF INTEREST
When a potential employer reviews your application, it will be the type of experience you’ve gathered that overshadows other candidates. Anita Bhagwandas, Beauty & Health Editor at Women’s Health says, “A really simple one-page CV that includes skills will make you stand out from the other hundreds of applicants.
“I want to see that you were news editor of your university magazine. I'd also love to know that you write for local magazines or websites to show that you're keen to improve your writing skills. At entry-level, your main priority should be getting skills that will wow on your CV and nail you the job.”
Kate agrees, adding, “Having a blog, or examples of your own writing, is good too because it shows that the industry is more than a job for you and it is something you are invested in. As it is a creative industry I think this needs to shine through, so no corporate dressing. Show your knowledge of current trends but have your own individual style, in both dress and work."
KNOW THE BRAND AND WHO YOU’RE WRITING TO
It’s extremely important to show that you’ve taken the time to understand the brand and the industry that you’re applying to. Krishna Montgomery, Founder of Monty PR, advises, “Make sure you follow the brand or agency’s social media streams and use these to engage with them. Try not to say how ‘passionate’ you are about the beauty industry - this is an overused term. Instead, talk about the magazines, vloggers and bloggers you enjoy reading/viewing and why you feel the beauty industry is something you want to get into.”
Additionally, it’s equally important to address your application correctly, instead of making it appear like something you’ve churned out. Krishna says, “Always ensure your email application is personalised (you would be surprised how many I get with Dear Agency). Also, always attach a copy of your CV and include links to your social media feeds (If relevant, e.g. not filled with late night drunken group shots!). This is an industry where hard work, attention to detail and creativity is paramount.”
MAKE YOURSELF INVALUBALE
As a makeup artist, blogger for thandiekay.com (alongside Thandie Newton), beauty director of Violet magazine and creative director across multiple projects, Kay Montano is often looking for assistants. Though she stresses that it’s those who make themselves useful and appear humble that are the most successful.
For those looking to step into the world of makeup artistry, she says, “It’s important to keep in mind that the world doesn’t need another make-up artist, and that there are ’no vacancies’ in our world. You have to make yourself needed, and perhaps ‘irreplaceable’ in people’s minds. I made sure I was useful; I asked people if they wanted tea, I helped without being asked to, I never stood around doing nothing. Believe me, there is rarely ‘nothing’ for an assistant to do - you can always be useful.
“Success doesn’t, and never will fall onto your lap. Be kind, be helpful, have lovely manners and use your initiative. You will go very, very far.”
REMEMBER THAT IT’S A CHANCE
The majority of internships are usually unpaid or cover expenses and it can be easy to forget the wealth of experience they offer in return. Remembering when she first started, Kay says, “I saw it as an opportunity, as I knew how much make-up schools were charging, and knew that a diploma for anything I was interested in (film, fashion, interiors, music) meant little-to-nothing in terms of getting an actual job in those areas.
“I learnt more being thrown into the deep end than any school could possibly teach me by being on the actual job, making mistakes, honing my craft and learning at a young age how to work around tricky social situations.”
AND ONCE YOU COMPLETE AN INTERNSHIP, THINK ABOUT HOW TO IMPROVE FOR THE NEXT
After each stint, it’s extremely important to get an assessment of the strengths and weaknesses that you displayed during your time there. By finding out how well you did, you can prepare for your next internship and build a positive reputation within the industry. Anita says, “My top tip is to grab the beauty editor at the end of your placement and ask 'what can I do better?" I sit with every intern at the end of their placement for questions, but only one person has asked me that, and it's the most vital question.
“Never take any feedback as a criticism, use it to build yourself into the super intern, and you'll eventually become known as the person everyone wants to be their next beauty assistant. And before you ask, when I was interning I always asked what I could do better and I learned so much from people's feedback.
“It also shows a degree of humbleness and a willingness to better yourself and everyone needs that in such a competitive industry - even at senior level.”
Image: The Devil Wears Prada (2006)