1 December 2014

Life as a beauty intern: the debrief

My month as a beauty intern at Marie Claire is over. So, that happened.

But let's get down to the nitty gritty. How did it happen? What have I learned? What tips can I offer other people wanting to intern on a beauty team for a magazine?

How did it happen? 
At the beginning of the week at blow LTD, I saw a tweet from Marie Claire's account advertising for a month-long beauty intern, and the email to contact. Now, with a role that paid my rent, I was still not a huge fan of living hand to mouth on expenses, so I tweeted, asking if it was expenses-only. However, I didn't get a reply. No biggie, I thought, the role was due to start the following week and that was too short notice anyway.

That night, I decided to change up my routine of changing buses where I usually did, because by that point when the new bus came along, it was full and went past me (rage). So instead I got off to change at the stop near the Blue Fin Building (where Time Inc Magazines are based). The second bus was taking its time to show up, and it was bloody freezing. 

In the meantime, a lady (I learned her name later) came into the bus stop with a Marie Claire bag, full of magazines. I told her she'd probably need to make use of those magazines because all the buses were AWOL, and we got talking. It turned out she worked at Marie Claire, and when I told her about the twitter exchange, she told me to apply anyway. Not only that - she text messaged the beauty director to let her know that I - Sofie - was probably going to be sending my CV across, so to look out for it. Um... 

And parents say never to talk to strangers! 

Well, after that, there was no way I wasn't going to apply, was there? Yes, it did turn out to be expenses-only (sorry, savings), but once I was offered the position, I could hardly turn it down. The alternative was to be known as "The Girl Who Turned Down Marie Claire" and although I am many things, I'm not utterly stupid.

Tips and Insights

Before I started at Marie Claire, I messaged the current beauty assistant at Stylist Magazine (Shannon) for some advice. We'd come across each other when I was interning at The Body Shop, and she was interning at Stylist. When the role for beauty assistant at Stylist arose, she got the job, so she must have been a pretty good beauty intern - so who better to get some tips from?

"The most important thing is organisation and I'm sure you have that down to a tee. Write everything down so you never forget anything. And also don't be afraid to pitch ideas and make your suggestions. Don't just do the bare minimum but ask if they are looking for any ideas or if you can write stuff for online. Get as many bylines as possible."

She also said that if I had any questions I was too afraid to ask in case I looked stupid, to send her a text, which was super kind of her! 

So with my new notebook titled "It's gonna be okay" and motivational quotes on each page (thanks Knock Knock), I got stuck in. And here's what I learned.

1. Say "Yes" to everything. Nothing is too taxing, too boring, too monotonous, too exhausting. You are there to make their lives easier and help out in any way you can. You need to be reliable and cheery and show you're grateful to be there.

2. Offer tea. It's a cliche, sure, but everyone needs to stay hydrated and caffeinated. Also, it's a reminder that you're around and ready to do any tasks that need doing. It's win-win.

3. Get to grips with a Mac. I'm not a Mac user, but I had to get to grips with Mac software and shortcuts, which took a good few days. If I could give some advice: try and be proficient in both if you want to be in a creative field.

4. It's okay to ogle a bit. I'm sure that every publication is different, but my workspace was within the beauty cupboard. That meant I was surrounded with the newest, prettiest products, from low-end to high end. Don't be afraid to have a little peek and immerse yourself in your business. Also, working in a magazine, people are so fashionable. It's okay to ogle at that person's sparkly shoes and beautiful jacket. Just stay focused!

5. Get off your backside. Anyone who thinks that interning isn't a hands-on role is in for a rude awakening. In my first week I was assembling and filling boxes with product, separating the beauty issues from each 2013 issue for archive, lugging things about... It's not a glam business, so kudos to those who make it look completely effortless. You will probably get a bit sweaty and/or have hands covered in papercuts. But it's worth it.

6. Pick up the phone. When you're calling in product, there should be an emphasis on "call". Calling PRs is so much quicker than emailing, when you're waiting on a response. Plus, I was complimented on not hiding behind emails, which most people do.

7. Fashion Monitor will be your bible. FM is a contact database for PRs and journos. It's quite frankly, a lifesaver, because you can contact particular people rather than the generic "press@"/"hello@"/"info@"

8. Research. Ahhh, so THIS is where my university degree comes in handy. I wondered when that would happen! Research is very important. For instance, I had to research a load of brands that catered to various skin problems, high end homeware, boho jewellery... The list goes on.

9. A make up brush is a perfectly good thing to panic about. I laughed when I read this back. Beauty might seem like a shallow, pointless industry to those who are ignorant, but things like a missing make up brush which needs to be shot THAT DAY so the art department can meet their deadline for issue... It's a legitimate thing to panic about, trust me (and FYI, we got the brush). 

10. Politeness will get you everywhere. Okay, this might seem basic, but in this industry you are owed nothing and should be grateful for everything. It's so easy to forget how competitive it is, and how coveted your position is to those "on the outside". Say please and thank you, and mean it. Smile, even if people don't smile back (I smiled even harder the next time and I'm pretty sure I scared them a bit). It costs nothing.

And most importantly, work really darn hard. Really really. You're only there for a limited amount of time, and you need a good reference. So make your time count. Oh, and although I didn't write anything whilst I was there, I've been commissioned to write a piece for online whenever I can. And hopefully that will lead to other things!

Next week I'm starting a two-week stint on the Grazia beauty team before temping until further notice, but no doubt the above will apply there, too.

Happy interning!


  1. This was fantastic - what genuinely helpful advice, thank you! I feel as though these tips can be applied to everything you're attempting, because your overall message was essentially, "Work hard, don't whinge, be grateful, and be helpful."
    I'm going to bookmark this so i can come back to it when i need a spot of career/life motivation xoxo

    1. I'm glad you liked it! Haha yes, the tips can be applied to everything, thanks for summarising it so well :)

  2. Great post, I've always wondered how people nab internships. Haha my mum always taught me not to speak to strangers too but sometimes it helps clearly :)

    1. Hi Aashfaria! Honestly, it's sometimes just a case of emailing the relevant assistant' see mail and asking if you can help out (if you can afford to work on expenses only, mind). Oh, and some rules are definitely made to be broken!

  3. Hey! I thought I'd comment since I've read and enjoyed a few of your posts before but just noticed this one... Funnily enough I actually work at the BlueFin, for a company that's owned by TimeInc! Nothing involving writing unfortunately; I work in account management and distribution for an external publisher client. Anyway thought I'd say hi- oh and it gets even weirder, turns out we were in the same year at Uni (I'm not a stalker I swear!). Good luck with your job search, i know how tough it is out there!

  4. Sofie-Eliza Price30 March 2015 at 22:43

    Hey Keira! Totally just did a lil search on LinkedIn - you went to York, too, and did the same course...?! How did we never see each other? Haha, how bizarre.
    I'm actually back in Blue Fin next month at InStyle, so we should meet! I'll add you on LinkedIn now :)


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