You hear the words: “fashion magazine intern” and everyone, including myself, thinks of The Devil Wears Prada. So, was it like that? Well, not exactly because this internship was completely virtual since the magazine is based out of New York and the editor was working in Europe at the time. Meetings consisted of ridiculously long Skype calls in which the ‘share screen’ method was employed for the editor to follow my work. There was a structure that had to be followed exactly to her liking but at the same time, “don’t bother me with every little detail.”
For a first-time fashion intern, I was lost. In this sense, I did feel a lot like Andy Sachs when she was hired for Runway. Only, I couldn’t adapt like Andy. There was no Nigel showing me the ropes and pulling clothes for me from the magazine’s wardrobe closet, (which by the way, never happens in real life). I was not met with anything constructive but rather the dronings of a middle-aged woman with Borderline Personality Disorder.
My first one on one call ended in tears with the editor trying to convince me that I didn’t bring much to the table. Her scare tactics were disguised as tough love. She was going to make me stronger and I started to believe her. Days were spent doing intern-like things, of the utmost importance: collecting celebrity contact information for the magazine’s upcoming issue. Hours worth of menial, unpaid work but it was okay because I was paying my dues. Google Docs became my best friend and I started to feel like I was carving out my own spot in the magazine. Even after our next tearful meeting, tearful for me at least, I remained hopeful. Hopeful that listening to the editor’s narcissistic storytelling, which was absolutely irrelevant to the work I was hired for, would pay off. Ass kissing and indulging the boss in her bullshit ‘life coaching’ was really the unwritten job description…
“We want RESULTS.” I kept hearing this in my head as she insisted on knowing why I was so emotional. This was during our last and final call. She had surmised that I was a victim of child abuse, and this reason alone explained my behaviour. I wanted to scream back that nothing was wrong with me, but I couldn’t speak. In that moment, I felt exactly how she wanted me to.
I decided that the verbal abuse was not worth it, not even for the self-proclaimed sunnier version of Anna Wintour. I left after just two weeks with mixed feelings that I was passing up a huge opportunity, maybe I would never get this close again. Upon telling the editor I quit, she replied with, “I’m not surprised.” And so, yet again, she was right. (Something tells me that she is a walking self-fulfilling prophecy that will rot in a causal loop, but then again, that’s just what my ‘useless’ degree with a concentration in psych tells me…)
Looking back now, I wonder why I didn’t question her and leave sooner. Why was she so infallible to me? I believed she was my liaison into the fashion magazine industry and that this was my one shot. I realize now that she was not my only way in and that, in a lot of respects, I already had made it in a way that she couldn’t dream of.