The Intern Diaries: Here’s What You Need to Know About Working at a Fashion & Beauty Site

By Jasmin Suknanan

The first thing that comes to mind when people hear “fashion and beauty intern” is probably the notion of fetching coffee for the editor because, if there’s anything we’ve learned from “The Devil Wears Prada,” it’s how Miranda Priestly takes her coffee. While I can’t speak for the experiences of every single beauty and fashion editorial intern out there, here are some of the main things I’d like to point out about my experience at StyleCaster: Yes, our beauty closet is insane and full of pure happiness, and on any given day, I had lipstick swatches from my wrist to my elbow and back. No, my boss was not an evil witch in Prada who made me have her venti iced skinny chai latte with two-and-three-quarter packs of Splenda ready on her desk before she got off the elevator. Yes, my editors expected A LOT and really challenged me to work quickly and be a problem solver. No, it was not a paid internship. Yes, it was a ton of fun getting to be part of such a well-known publication. Yes, I made some great new intern friends while I was there. And, yes, I’m definitely a much better writer because of it.

Digital media is insanely fast-paced because, unlike in print media, you skip the long editorial process of having several editors look at your work before publication. During my internship, it was extremely important for me to self-edit as much as possible to make sure my drafts were free from grammar mistakes and suited the voice of StyleCaster before sending them to my editor. My longest editing process had about four rounds of edits, and my shortest editing process involved simply re-working one sentence in the entire article.

One of my biggest fears was not realizing that I had an article that needed to be on the site and having the publish date pass without anything going up. I checked our editorial schedule very frequently to avoid this.

Any internship, not just an editorial beauty internship, requires initiative on the part of the intern. Don’t expect assignments to fall out of the sky and through the office ceiling right into your lap if you don’t speak up and ask for them. Don’t be afraid to approach your editor with your ideas for articles, but don’t be arrogant about it, either. I politely approached my editor with ideas I wanted to see on the site, and she was very receptive to them. She even organized a meeting with me to fully discuss my pitches. I learned so much about what would and wouldn’t work and why, so when I pitched more ideas in the following weeks, I became really good at submitting publishable ideas.

One of my favorite experiences this past summer was attending fashion and beauty events on behalf of StyleCaster. The other interns and I got to dress up extra cute and pretend, for an evening, that we had way more authority than we actually did. We mingled with other beauty writers and editors, and indulged in cocktails and finger foods. The one catch was—wait for it—we just had to bring back the bag of products with the press release from the event and give it to our editor. We got to keep whatever we wanted from the bag, and my new Charlotte Tilbury eyeshadow palette that won’t be available to the public until December attests to the fact that it’s a pretty sweet deal. The products do, however, serve a purpose. The idea is that writers will try them out and incorporate them into articles if they like them enough. My editors were impressed to see me do this with some of the products we received.

I came to pride myself on my ability to research and produce a complete product gallery in a short time. After what was definitely my biggest mistake during my internship, I became so fast that I’d always get sent early-morning roundup assignments that had to be done within, at most, two hours. My biggest mistake came during my first few weeks, so, luckily, I had the rest of the summer to learn from it and improve. My editor, who now works at Marie Claire, assigned me a resized, 30-image gallery complete with captions that had to be finished in less than one hour for publication. Even with help from another intern, I wasn’t able to finish the whole thing in time, and I also failed to give my editor an ETA on the complete assignment. The gallery was only half done when it was pushed live with crappy captions, and I had to update the post after every new image I added. I learned several lessons from this experience.

By the end of this internship, I learned so much about the organization of digital media sites, and what it takes to write publishable content for well-known, high-traffic sites. Going forward, I feel more confident in my beauty and fashion writing, and I feel better prepared for future internships and jobs.