When I was an intern at New York magazine, my duties on day one were to open mail and pass out faxes. Was I overqualified to do these small tasks? Sure! And at the time, I resented the exercise. I have a degree from an Ivy League University! I thought. I should be writing cover stories! I harrumphed. I wasn’t happy, but I didn’t understand that many organizations want to see if you will do small tasks with enthusiasm before entrusting you with more.
A Bombshell recently approached me about joining the Fashion Bomb Team. Her main interest? Helping us grow our E-Commerce site, FashionBombDailyShop.com. While I have big plans for our shop, it’s really not in a position to hire staff at the moment, so I offered to have her help me with my personal brand. She told me that while she was “Team Claire,” she wasn’t interested in helping me…and that her goals were for E-Commerce. I rebutted that if she could help me with my brand, it would eventually lead to opportunities with other offshoots. She told me that she would contact me with a proposal in a few days…but I never heard from her again.
Today, a golden opportunity with a giant new E-Commerce store fell into my lap. The owner of the site wants creative people to help them, and asked me to crack open my Rolodex with referrals. If the young Bombshell had simply shown me that she was down to do a task that was ‘beneath her,’ her name might have been first on my list. But I couldn’t recommend her–I never got a chance to work with her to see what she could do or what she can produce! Even when she told me she’d send me a proposal, she didn’t. Ultimately, she missed out. It’s something that too many young people do.
Many people want to work in fashion. Are you down to get dirty? Will you be in the trenches, doing whatever needs to be done to provide a service to the company (even if it’s not apart of your job description)? Will you do both menial and important work? Will you walk to Brooklyn for cheesecake? And do it with a smile? If the answer is yes, you will go far.
Don’t get caught up in what you want out of a situation. If you want to work for a company, even if you have to start in the mailroom, it’s a foot in the door. And once you show your devotion, you can eventually ascend to the title you want to have, or leave with enough connections or experiece to one day do the job you really want to do.
When I was opening mail as a 22 year old intern, I didn’t get it, but I get it now. You have to show you are impeccable with small things before you are entrusted with big.
Love & Light,