Tell us about the application process. What sort of opportunities are available, and how did you find out about them?
Every Condé Nast magazine has a very slightly different system in place for work experience applicants; for example, Vogue has an official work-experience application process which even includes an interview. For most of the other magazines at Condé Nast, however, the best way to apply is to send your CV and cover letter through the post and address it to anyone on the team who seems to be in a suitable position to grant you a work experience. In the case of GQ, I sent in my CV by email and by post to various people. They’re much more likely to be interested in you if it arrives in a hard copy, on their desks.
What was the most difficult part of your internship?
Like all internships, the most difficult part of a Condé Nast internship is getting exactly what you want from it. I was on the Online Team at GQ but I already knew that journalism was not what I wanted to do; much rather, I was interested in shoot production, direction and magazine design. I got to know people in the design direction team, and after the Artistic Director asked to see my portfolio, I was asked to take part in several shoots and projects as a creative assistant. Towards the end of my internship, I was appointed as the Assistant Producer for a Burberry shoot at Kew Gardens. Though I was only there for a short time gaining work experience, Condé Nast is an easy environment to flourish in if you know exactly what it is that you want, and if you’re willing to put in time and effort. It can be difficult to locate what it is that you want when you start a new work experience, and even more difficult to achieve that aim, but the important thing is to try—and when you don’t succeed, to keep trying. At the end of the day, you don’t have anything to lose!
What’s working ‘on set’ like?
Working on set is a mixture of high stress and being extremely chilled out; it can go from absolute havoc, to total calm, to complete mayhem again. What people don’t realise is that the majority of the work happens before the shoot happens, and once you’re on set, it’s just a matter of making sure everything runs smoothly- often, there are things we don’t remember to take into account; such as a high tide during a shoot at the beach for instance! When we were at Kew Gardens, the biggest issue was making sure no one took photos of us shooting. The winter Burberry collection was under strict embargo until London Fashion Week, and keeping eager tourists at bay was a challenge, to say the least. I also spent one of the most uncomfortable hours of my life in the upstairs rafting of the main glasshouse at Kew. It was already 30 degrees that day, but inside and upstairs, it was pushing 40 degrees. We all emerged looking like we’d taken a shower in our clothes, and it was even worse for the poor model, who was wearing a jumper and a winter coat.
Highlight an opportunity or two that you especially enjoyed.
With the launch of the Night Tube in August, GQ magazine did a special online feature on the best 24 hour restaurants, bars and clubs around London. I was asked to take over the GQ snapchat and Instagram to document my first ever Night-Tube-Night-Out, using GQ’s list of restaurants and clubs as guidance. Bringing two friends of mine along with me, we contacted the restaurants and clubs in advance and received V.I.P treatment everywhere we went. This included free dining at SWAY night club, unlimited cocktails and free champagne at breakfast atop the famous Duck & Waffles restaurant overlooking London, just as the sun came over the horizon.
There were other cool experiences too, such as meeting Joe Jonas for our Facebook Live at Euston Tower, or being on-set with Alfie Allen. Towards the end of the month, the Online Team also asked me to conduct some interviews for them; I interviewed Jack Savoretti and AlunaGeorge.
Instagram seemed to play a big part in your cataloguing your experiences. Could you talk to us about the place of social media in journalism?
Instagram is one of the most important media platforms in the fashion industry because it remains entirely visual. Images generally appeal to people a lot more than words and I do think that Instagram will play an increasingly important role in journalism. Just one example of that is the way it is becoming an ever expanding online catalogue of pictures for anyone’s consumption and copyright remains ambiguous. The important thing to always bear in mind is that, unlike Facebook, anyone can access your account from Google. You should always be careful to remember your potential audiences when you upload images, but equally, play the internet at its own game; use it as an opportunity to show off your work. You’d be surprised at the amount of freelance work you can get just from people coming across your Instagram.
What would you conclude about the experience overall?
Overall, though it was really fun, the environment is quite stressful and fast-paced. There was a lot of work to do and it would often extend beyond the 9-6 office hours; the difference from most other places I suppose, is that every task changes from the last. Condé Nast is an exciting place to work for this reason; every day is different and fun.
What advice would you give to those looking to get involved in similar internships?
Be an opportunist. Never turn opportunities for experience down, no matter how small. Get involved in student journalism, but don’t limit yourself to a single publication. Try your hand out at everything from news, to comment, to fashion, and if you can, get involved in creative projects too.
Inspired by Christina’s interview to learn more about the fashion industry, but unsure about where to begin? How about lunch with one of the most connected women in the industry? Check out the Cherwell Fashion Writing Competition here.