Like many girls my age I’m obsessed with the latest beauty trends and fashions; I worship the magazines, binge watch House of DVF, Kell on Earth, ANTM, every fashion documentary I can find and practically have The September Issue memorized by heart. Naturally I am always trying different hair and makeup tricks, a few that ended disastrously, with me refusing to leave the house for the day or having to call in backup for a little damage control (we have all been there). I cyber stalk my favorite celebrities cursing their good genes, leave drool marks on store windows that are way above my college student price range, have run out of hiding places for all my clothes that I probably don’t need/shouldn’t have bought, yet keep an ongoing list of things I still need to acquire close to the forefront of my mind at all times. Basically I’m you’re average girl, same as every other that has watched The Devil Wears Prada over a hundred times and dreamed of making it big in fashion, on the red carpet or on the big screen….with a slight difference being that I am about to take my first real giant leap after my dream.
How it happened:
I was sitting at my computer one night, with two browsers open with at least 18 tabs each, feeding my fashion and luxury life addiction of Pinterest, Instagram, Youtube, Vouge.com etc.and trying to figure out how I was going to get ‘Me’ over to Europe. I’d been feeling the need for change and escape growing stronger over the past year and had been spending hours each night coming up with schemes to travel as I was convinced it would be my only salvation. I had even looked into internships, as I needed experience to get the ball rolling toward my education and pairing it with my need to ‘get out’ seemed like a good idea. That was when I came across a link to GlobalExperiences (https://www.globalexperiences.com/), fashion internships in Europe. You pay the money, you get the internship and these guys had the VIP passes when it came to fashion internships overseas. It was late in the evening, when my mind is most alive, and the idea of it just latched on and wouldn’t let go!
The next day I was the phone inquiring into the program, just to see if it was even legit you know? Curiosity + Cat and all, and of course scouring the internet to see if it was all some sort of scam. I mean..they pay for housing, language classes, set you up with a phone, take you out for activities and set you up with a killer internship in Milan? For three months? Aside from the rather death defying price tag, what was the catch? I ended up talking to a guy named Alex who was very friendly, knowledgeable, seemingly down to earth and open to answering my 10,000 quiz questions. He gave me advice on several different things to look into (even financial advice on how I might be able to fund my trip should I decide to go!), requirements that had to be met, and how I could get some experience under my belt for the position I wanted before applying because I had no “on-paper” experience just overall knowledge. He was on the phone with me for a good hour and a half without trying to get me to ‘buy’ once, I was impressed. Honestly I don’t think he expected me to ever call back, just some girl who saw the ad, got all hyped up about it for a moment before crashing back to reality and dismissing the idea and talking herself out of it. I’m sure they get twenty of them a day over there.
Exactly two months later I had started a blog, opened a whole new Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest account fully dedicated to marketing it, had redone my resume, written a killer cover letter, had bumped up my part-time hours to almost 48 hrs a week to help save enough for a down payment. He was pretty surprised when I called him back, doubly so when talked to me and realized how much research I had done and how fast I had moved in such a short time, but he DID remember me. Honestly though, who wouldn’t remember a girl who asked you that many questions? A couple weeks later I did something crazy, after being accepted I put down my $1000 (a small fortune literally) down payment on my Fall of 2016 Milan internship; virtually locking myself in. There was no turning back now.
A Little Bit of History:
This is truly the craziest thing I have ever done. I am in no way financially set up for this, but will probably never really be financially set up for it so it’s kind of the ‘you jumped off the cliff now pray for a soft landing’ moment. I realized there was never going to be right time for this, but right now was the closest I was going to get. Let me back up and tell you a little bit about me.
I am a 22 year old only child who was adopted by her grandmother when she was eight; we lived the nice middle class (not by any means rich but solid financially) life for a short period of time in Washington state before realizing the money, even living as frugally as we were, wasn’t going to stretch much further and we moved to scorching, dusty Arizona. My ‘Mother’ is now 75 and rolls have reversed somewhat as she, retired and semi disabled, now depends somewhat on me. Luckily we have always been money conscious so we make due, but understandably, dropping over $10,000 on an internship borders on insane. In reality, I can’t pay for it; I’m a part-time working community college student using a pell grant to get through school, but because I have made a study of the ways of money (having constantly been faced with the lack of it) I have found a few ways to do my best. Scholarships naturally, pulling equity off my car, selling stuff…basically whatever I have to do. And here is why I’m going to such great lengths.
I came to a crossroads in my life/education where I was going to have to choose between the safe life of getting a standard degree in business, which practically guarantees me some sort of financially safe, stable and life sucking job. Or following my dreams which, with as little opportunity (No connections, No wealthy relatives to fall back on, No financials of my own, No special talent for drawing, sewing etc) as I have available to me would be kin to walking the tight rope, inexperienced, without a safety net. Basically if my plan fails…yeah it’s really going to suck.
I am about to graduate community college with a Bachelors of Science in Business then it will be off to university to study…here’s the life choice. If I decide to pursue a career in fashion, it is going to take me a very different course (pun intended) than say, a degree in international marketing, possibly even to an entirely different university. I believe I want to pursue my dream instead, it is a large gamble for me but I pretty much have my mind set. I just want to be sure which direction in the fashion world I want to go before I rack up thousands of dollars in student debt on an education that might not land me where I want to be. So far I’m thinking Fashion Editor as a career path, but who knows? With this internship I will be exposed to many different aspects of the fashion world, when I’m in there hands on, I might take a shine to something I never thought of before.
Here’s The Plan:
Right now I have absolutely NO competitive edge over most of those who will be working in the fashion world, or even in this internship program for that matter! As above mentioned I lack money, connections, and natural talent for anything tangible (though things like photography and styling are my strongest suits alongside a love of writing). Alex was actually excited to tell me I was accepted to the program purely because most of the other applicants have tons of background experience already and it is rare someone who isn’t even taking fashion based classes yet is accepted. Most applicants are currently in school to be designers, have already begun designing or have interned or worked at large fashion cooperation’s, and/or their parent’s just have a crap ton of money and know the right people (sad but reality). The same will be true when I graduate and go looking to start my career. By then I am not going to have time to graduate and then spend two or more years interning before I can even land an actual job, I’ll need to start paying off those student loans!
My plan for this is simple, the internship will give me: the international experience in need on a resume to put me ahead of the game (Key Phrases: +intern, +Milan, +well known company, +international, +speaks Italian, +Milan Fashion Week +designer). I will have an internship under my belt already when I graduate! That cuts out a lot of time after graduation and could get me a much cushier second internship, should I need one, than the green, ‘doe eyed wanna-be with a degree’ fresh off the university press. Possibly a paying internship even which would be great. And think about the connections I am going to make! Many alumni of the Global Experiences program make out pretty well career wise after their internships, and often ‘give back’ by helping other interns get positions after they graduate. Regardless,just putting the word ‘international’ on your resume earns you an extra gold star these days. Can you imagine? This is really going to give me the leg up I need (I hope) because without it there is no way I will be able to compete. I just won’t have any foundation to build from.
How I’m going to Get There:
So I live in Arizona where, naturally there is positively no fashion base whatsoever. Sure they have Scottsdale fashion week here each year for local designers, but it’s really a very small circle. We don’t really even have a fashion magazine here except perhaps for Arizona Foothills Magazine, which I am hoping to apply to upon my return from Milan (fingers crossed!), even then they are not purely a fashion magazine, they cover a variety of content. The only way to gain more experience and showcase, more my knowledge of than my hands on work with fashion, is to become a fashion blogger. Which- is a heck of lot harder than it sounds let me tell you. I’d be rich if I wrote a decisive and relevant manual on the subject. The Blonde Salad (Chiara Ferragni) did, however it’s in Italian, costs over $100 and is impossible to get in this country. Believe me, I’ve tried; the woman started her blog in college at law school and now makes over $8 million a year, not including all the free merchandise. Who better to take advice from?
Alex confirmed my plan as the only way to go about it and agreed with me that the only way to achieve enough standing and background to land a decent internship would be to gain a massive following. Again, this is a ton of work and I am proudly broke 100 followers on Instagram mark about a week ago. Only took me two months, haha! Sad I know. (So if you care to follow me on Instagram: https://instagram.com/myempresschic/ or Twitter: https://twitter.com/MyEmpressChic ……)
So that is my plan! Save! Blog! Instagram! And learn Italian! I am currently working on learning the new language by using Duolingo.com. Again, it’s all about getting as much competition edge as possible. From what I have read, and it makes sense, even though many people there speak English, interns still tend to move up faster if they speak the language. One intern of Global Experience was even asked to stay on after the program ended! That’s huge! I am wondering how she managed it if they didn’t pay her, because her housing was cut off when the program ended, not to mention she would have had to quickly get a work visa (as you can only stay 90 days in that region of Europe without one) but still this is the ultimate goal here! Being asked to stay on as an intern or even as a job, talk about a giant leap for this fashionista.
I’m Going on an Adventure!…
And so Ladies and Gents, if you would like to follow me for the next year as I prepare for the next epic chapter of my life, it looks to be one heck of a ride, as I will be following the advice from one of my favorite books off all time, The 33 Strategies of War: Strategy 4 :
“4 CREATE A SENSE OF URGENCY AND DESPERATION: THE DEATH-GROUND STRATEGY:”
“You are your own worst enemy. You waste precious time dreaming of the future instead of engaging in the present. Cut your ties to the past; enter unknown territory. Place yourself on “death ground,” where your back is against the wall and you have to fight like hell to get out alive.”
Testimonial Video From Global Experiences: