1 - KNOW WHERE TO LOOK!
Half of the battle of securing a placement is knowing where to find them!
Internships or placements are rarely advertised on the open market within trade publications or on the major jobs boards such as Drapers or RetailChoice, as it simply doesn't make sound financial sense for companies to pay for an advert for this type of role. Most companies will seek to fill these roles via their own contacts, friends, and through websites that charge very little to advertise or that are free to place roles on.
For fashion placements and work experience in the UK and Europe, good sites are as follows:
This site is great, as it focuses solely on fashion internships, spanning design, buying, merchandising, styling, and many more sectors...
This is my main website, and in the Jobs section we often list work placements - the majority are within fashion design, however we are looking to expand into other sectors soon - watch this space.
Mainly design opportunities with fashion and graphics.
You may also find placements listed on www.nineteen74.com, www.fashionunited.com and www.fashioncontest.com
2. USE YOUR CONTACTS!
Most people have more contacts than they think. If you're already on a BA or MA fashion course, chances are that you will already know a few people who are either in the industry already, or who have been on a placement, or someone who has a friend of a friend at a certain company. Have you followed up all of these contacts? Do they know you are looking for something? If not, you're missing a golden opportunity. Don't worry about 'hassling' people or being afraid to ask for help - most industry professionals will have been in exactly the same situation as you at the start of their career - most will only be too glad to assist.
3. REVIEW YOUR APPLICATION!
As so many fashion students and graduates are chasing after the same internships and work placements, make sure you have something interesting and exciting to offer - right from the application stage. Employers get inundated with CV's from people asking to be considered for work experience, but what are you offering that's different from the next applicant?
What will make them get back to you? Well, there's no golden rule, however you can maximize your chance of at least getting a call/email back or offer of an interview if you can send them more than just a CV or cover letter when you apply. Go above and beyond what they have asked for in the job advert. For instance, if you're looking for a placement in accessories design with Mulberry, you could create one or two pages of project work specifically focused on their style - some mood/inspiration work is preferable, followed by some design development and a final design. Or if you're looking for a placement in buying with a store like Selfridges, you could create a small shop report and SWAT analysis of their product offer. Sending something like this with your application will show your enthusiasm for the role, and offers the employer an insight into your capabilities and skill set.
Clearly, you won't have time to do this sort of project for every single application you make, however it's a useful tool to use when applying to your top 3 'dream' companies.
Good luck in your search - please let us know if you have any further queries about finding work placements within the fashion industry: firstname.lastname@example.org