Today I applied for the 2013 Edited by the Interns competition on ELLEUK.com, which led me to recall that I’d never actually gotten around to doing a write-up about the week internship that I did there last October. My trip to London/Cambridge was so jam-packed crazy that I don’t even remember the couple of weeks after I returned home – I think I just did a lot of lamenting and hibernating. I managed to snag a placement from ELLE’s Market Editor Bonnie Rakhit after meeting her at a River Island x ELLE event in Manchester last summer, which you can read more about here. After a week or so of feverish email inbox refreshing, I finally got offered a week’s placement at ELLE and started planning (mentally spending) for my London visit.
London is phenomenal. I know it’s terribly, terribly cliché but I’m such a ridiculous city girl and thinking back to trips I’ve done to New York and London literally make me well up. I’m barely joking when I say that I’d chop off a limb, or lick a kitten heel to teleport back to either of them. Big cities bring out some weirdly confident Ebony, who seems to shrivel up in the dreary humdrum of Lancaster city, so I cannot wait until I escape next year and can move to the capital. Anyway, I digress. I’m fortunate enough to have a lovely aunt and uncle living near Camden who let me stay with them for the week, which was an absolute lifesaver because, dang – that city is expensive. If you find an internship but are struggling to find cheap accommodation, you should look into houseshares or hosts, with schemes like Room For Tea.
Step 1: Buy an Oyster Card. If you’re in the same London-novice boat that I was, you’ll be sounding the ‘Oy-what?’ card somewhere about now. The Oyster card system allows you to top up a card, akin to a phone top-up, which lets you roam the city through the underground/buses/other public transport – lifesaver. Not always the best of systems when you’re running for the bus and it’s at the bottom of a bag even Mary Poppins would think you’re a twat for carrying, though. Also not helpful when you’re late out of work, trying to get your clothes packed to catch the last train back to Cambridge – and stuck in a Friday rush-hour queue to top it up, in Oxford Street station. Even that didn’t dampen my chipper Northern-bastard-in-London spirit.
Step 2: Be proficient with a map (by which, I mean a very small, inconspicuous map) or don’t bother going without a smartphone with maps. Bizarrely, I found my way to the office without a hitch on the first day, but found myself completely lost on the third morning – running around like a prat with the biggest, most tourist-y map you’ve ever seen. Unfortunately, I’d just had my iPhone stolen a couple of weeks before my trip, so I was relying on my trusty old Nokia E71, which was pants. Oh, and you might want to get friendly with the tube system too – you will probably go out and get drunk, and you will undoubtedly nearly end up in the wrong place.
Step 3: If you have a Northern accent, you have special preparatory homework before you should go to a fashion internship. I worked with quick-talking European ladies from whom ‘Dries Van Noten’ rolled off the tongue to an almost sexy degree, whereas, my confused equivalent was a more ‘Uh, ‘DREES VAN NOHHHTEN’? And I don’t even have a particularly Northern accent. You need to be damn quick with a pen and the sticky notes too – shiz moves fast in these places, with no room for mistake.
Step 4: You might have to get up close and personal with some celebrities. No, I didn’t get my staple on with One Direction or braid Taylor Swift’s hair – but, I did return underwear that Victoria Beckham had worn on a shoot for the March issue. Geddin’, if that’s what you’re into. You’re going to be doing a lot of this returning too: I literally spent the entire week, bar about an hour (accumulative running up and down to the post-room time) doing returns from shoots. If you’re a fashion-lover though – in the clutches of endless Jimmy Choos and hiding in the jewelled cavern of the fashion cupboard – you’ll stay in your element 9 – 5.
Step 5: Go to Leon. Your mouth will thank me. So will your stomach, come 4pm when you’re salivating with hunger into a Moschino clutch. Trust me, the Pret superfood salad just isn’t going to cut it.
Step 6: Open your mouth and don’t be afraid to dress how you want to. I’m going to contradict myself with this one: I wore a really outlandish but arguably awesome hipster/Japanese-y/secretary/plain-crazy ensemble one day, and got complimented on it by one of the actual writers – which I was absolutely elated about – but instead of being all ‘Oh yeah, thanks! It’s from *insert plethora of stores*’, I giggled like a schoolgirl, squeaked ‘Thanks!’ and dived back into my fashion cupboard of solitude and safety. On the other hand, I did redeem myself towards the end of the week, when one of the other interns was working on a website feature with Bonnie, and I jumped in with a suggestion for them and she loved it. I spent the rest of the evening calling up my mum/dad/best friend/cat squealing that I’d got one whole line on the site.
Step 7: Name drop me, please? I want back there. Pronto.