“Intern Diaries” is a new column from Step Up Magazine where we feature experienced interns on what it’s like–and what it takes–to intern their field. Today we are excited to learn from Sierra Mayhew!
Years of experience:
Where Sierra went to college:
University of Notre Dame
Sierra Mayhew is an incoming senior at the University of Notre Dame. She has been blogging at
for almost 2 ½ years. She has interned at ELLE Magazine, 3.1 Phillip Lim, and RBBR/Live the Process. In addition to fashion, she loves to rollerblade and make music.
In a few sentences, please tell us what you do and what your internships have involved.
I am a fashion blogger aspiring to work in the fashion industry post-graduation. My first fashion internship was at ELLE magazine, and it involved sample trafficking, organizing a fashion closet, and researching new brands. At 3.1 Phillip Lim, I did pretty much the same thing but from the opposite point of view — I worked in PR as opposed to editorial. My current internship at RBBR and Live the Process involves a lot of different things from sample trafficking and brainstorming design ideas to assisting with sales and sending products to customers.
What is something you wish you knew about fashion design or journalism before you entered these fields professionally through your internships?
Wear comfortable shoes. You’ll usually be on your feet for half the day if you are a fashion intern. It is not glamorous, so your Nikes will do.
At your internships, what does an average morning or day look like for you?
At ELLE and Phillip, I would usually arrive early to make things easier for my team. I would take care of all the shipments that came in the night before and I would make sure everything was ready for the day. It really depends on the day though, because as an intern, you do not always know what is going on.
Photo: Sierra Mayhew
What were your interviews like at ELLE and Phillip Lim? Do you have any interview pointers or tips for someone hoping to enter the fields you interned in?
Shorter than I expected. Make sure you make the most of your time with the person who is interviewing you! They just want to get on with their work day, so don’t take up too much of their time. Just be straight to the point. There is no reason to be nervous because it will only make it harder for you to give the best answers you can.
What were some of your favorite parts of your internship work?
At ELLE, it was definitely the amount that I learned. It was the perfect first internship for me because every single important designer brand comes in and out of that closet. I learned the names and the styles of each and every one of them which has helped me succeed in this industry and as a blogger. Knowing all the names is so important. I suggest that you browse Net-A-Porter prior to starting an internship so you will know who is who. At 3.1 Phillip Lim, my favorite part was the culture of the company. I loved how every member of the team seemed to be a Phillip girl in some way. The brand is edgy and effortless, and that could be seen in the workers there, both in their clothes and their personality. That is everything I want to be! At RBBR/Live the Process, it is the amount I have been able to do. It is a small team so I have had the opportunity to be involved in so many parts of the company in ways that I had not anticipated. This was such a pleasant surprise because I had never been given that much responsibility before. I love that they treat interns like actual employees because I have learned more here than anywhere else I have worked.
What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?
“Hustle until your haters ask if you are hiring.” I have heard it said before, but I attended a career panel with CollegeFashionista and that’s what was said. Certain people came to mind and it made me laugh.
Photo: Sierra Mayhew
What is your advice to a student who is interested in entering the fashion industry?
Go the extra mile and find a side-hustle. There are so many people who think they want to work in the fashion industry, but it is not as easy as it seems. I might be one of those people one day! You have to do extra things to stand out. Finding a side-hustle is a great way to be involved in fashion during a semester when you do not have an internship. If you pick the right one, you could even support yourself financially (since fashion does not always pay well). You can really try whatever you think you may be interested in — anything from blogging to making bracelets to offering consultation. I guess those are the “do’s.” Don’t wear heels on your first day. I learned that the hard way when I was at ELLE — we all laughed about it at the end though. Don’t expect it to be easy or you’ll just cry when you get disappointed. Also, don’t feel bad if you can’t afford every straight-off-the-runway fashion trend even though everyone else is wearing it — it’s a waste of negative energy!
What were some fun or unique aspects of your intern positions at ELLE and 3.1 Phillip Lim that you couldn’t experience if you were in other positions?
Editors at ELLE would get a lot of free products sent to them, so it was great when they would sometimes give it to the interns! I still consider many of the people I met there some of my greatest career mentors. I think the most fun aspect of these internships was learning about all of the designers. At 3.1 Phillip Lim, the company’s culture was amazing and I made some amazing friends while I was there. I met my best NYC friend there and every day was filled with fun and laughs. I had the most amazing bosses as well!!
Were there any challenges at ELLE or Phillip Lim that you had to overcome before you felt more comfortable in their work environments?
A challenge I am still facing now is that it is difficult to try to save money by bringing lunch instead of buying it. That’s never easy, but it is a must-do. Also, my current commute is an hour long. Luckily I start at 10am, but it is still difficult to get out the door by 9am in order to make it on time. I do not arrive early like I used to, but I still make it to work on time. The commute is also rough when I am hungry after work because I have a long ways to go before getting home. I don’t think that the challenges that interns face are that challenging. My lunch money and commute issues are pretty minor compared to what I will face when I am graduated, so I am just trying to prepare myself for that.
Have your internship experiences changed your lifestyle and goals for the future? If so, how?
While I loved working at ELLE, I learned that I do not want to work at a magazine like I thought I did. It completely shifted my goals. I still do not have a specific thing that I want to do and I am open to exploring any part of the industry until I figure it out. At Phillip, my sense of style changed and became a little more edgy because of the company’s culture. I think New York has changed my lifestyle more than my jobs have.
Are there any “myths” or misconceptions you think people have about the work that occurs in a magazine’s office or design house? Are any of them true or not true, and why?
I feel like people think that these companies are really mean to their interns but that is not necessarily true. I have never felt directly attacked or bullied by any coworkers or supervisors. However, I know that at some companies, things are different and negative situations with interns do occur. A misconception is that working somewhere like Vogue is the ultimate job, but it’s actually the opposite now, as they are laying people off constantly.