Living in another country is change enough, but by working here, you submerse yourself in the everyday lives of locals who permanently call this city home. It’s an extra leap out of your comfort zone as you leave the safety of your flat and your fellow Americans every day to interact with people of different standards, expectations, and preconceptions about you as an American. I am realizing now how scary I just made that sound and how in actuality, I couldn’t be happier or more excited about my decision to take an internship here. As I should have mentioned earlier, I am a fashion buying intern for Salt, a luxury clothing and resort wear boutique in the heart of London’s upscale West End.
When deciding my career path, I decided that a 9-5 cubicle desk job was for some people, but not for me. I loved math and accounting but never had a desire to work for one of the ‘big four,’ and wanted to go to work everyday feeling I was doing something I am passionate about. I loved fashion but never was creative enough to design, so I felt out of luck until I discovered fashion buying and merchandizing. Contrary to popular belief, this position is much more math than style – but it’s the perfect balance for me. There’s something so satisfying about seeing the orders you put together months before come in for delivery, knowing how beautiful you are going to make someone feel in that lace detail dress they have been searching every store for. In a small environment like the boutique I’m working in, you build relationships with the customers, are greeted with a familiar friendly face every time they come into the store, and become embedded in the community. In this job, you have a hand in creating beautiful things, make people’s day, and have a real sense of purpose; that is something I can really get behind.
I’m clearly not the only person who sees the beauty in this industry. My coworkers are some of the most lovely people I have met here in London – even possibly some of the most wonderful people I have met in my life. My boss, Marina, comes in everyday with the most positive attitude, excited for what she is going to do that day and in turn, lifting the spirits of everyone around her. She sees beauty in people as much as she sees beauty in clothing. I have to say it’s quite hard to be in a bad mood when your job is to deal with brightly colored prints many moments of the day. The sales team is so supportive, offering to help me in whatever I need as I learn the business. The owner of the store has invited me to buying appointments with major brands, and given me every opportunity to get a leg up in the industry while I am here. They genuinely care about my success, and I couldn’t think of a better way to spend 20 hours of each week than being here with them.
As a 20 year old intern, I have been given opportunities with this position that many people wanting to go into fashion don’t get in a lifetime. I have been to buying appointments with major brands such as Philosophy. I have been to London fashion week, which included a show in which Her Majesty the Queen was backstage. I have been part of making decisions regarding what the store is going to carry within the upcoming months, and feel I have mastered the art of rising above the volatility of such a fickle industry in one of the cornerstone cities of the world. I can’t begin to explain how lucky I have been. I can’t put into words how blown out of the water my expectations for this time have been. I don’t know what I did to deserve these people, this position, or these incredible opportunities, but what I will take with me is this; no matter where I end up, I now understand what huge value there is in helping others achieve their wildest dreams, just as I have been advised these past few months.