by David Bologna
“I didn’t think I was going to work in fashion. I thought I was going to be a rich, unhappy lawyer who loved shopping.”
Jonathon Harris, current fashion assistant at W Magazine, shared a personal story from his own life along with three other top industry professionals—Teen Vogue’s Clare Knebl, Nylon’s Bianca Rodriguez, and Vogue.com’s Anne Johnson. These four mellow, comedic, and down-to-earth informants provided a spectacular inside look into the world of fashion media hailing from editorial, creative, and business standpoints.
“The biggest mistake I ever made was not doing an internship,” said Nylon’s Bianca Rodriguez.
After being unable to find an advertising job out of college at New York Tech, Rodriguez was forced to do temp work at a nursing home but soon made enough connections to land her a spot at Icon International. Later moving to the company Women’s Marketing, she again utilized the connections made at numerous magazines to work at Nylon magazine.
“My biggest piece of advice to you is to build as many relationships as you can. My experience was not that I interned but I was always talking to people and making those connections,” said Rodriguez.
While internships were not the road that Rodriguez took, NYU graduates Knebl and Johnson explained their extensive careers in the world of interning and how helpful they were for each of them both in the past and the present.
After meeting Teen Vogue’s Jane Keltner at sixteen years old, Claire Knebl knew that she wanted to one-day intern for the company. Later in her career as an NYU Freshman, she landed the internship at Teen Vogue and even continued it while studying abroad in Paris . After leaving the company for a short time in search of other internships, such as one at Vogue.com, she was called back to take a full-time position for Teen Vogue and immediately started work while simultaneously completing her Communications degree from Steinhardt in three years. Now, she pitches and writes three stories a day, attends various marketing appointments, and answers countless emails. Knebl said, “Something I figured out…is that you really have to ask for what you think you deserve.”
Anne Johnson said, “I did 6 internships before graduating and the last one on was at Vogue.com, and then that turned into a job which is sort of the goal.” She continued, “My first internship was PR consulting…it was literally just schlepping bags, but we all have to do it, and actually my boss there was the one that sent my resume to Vogue.com.”
While she interned everywhere from renowned companies like Vanity Fair to up-and-coming art blogs, Johnson always remained alert, learned to “never say no,” and became indispensable.
“I was the girl who always had gum,” said Johnson. “At Vogue, I was the coffee guy,” replied W Magazine’s Jonathon Harris with a chuckle.
While he began his college career with the intent of becoming a lawyer, Harris quickly realized after interning in Luxury PR that his real passion was fashion. He went abroad for a year, moved back to New York to various jobs like nannying, and eventually made enough connections through the family he nannyed for to begin work for a jewelry company. Once he met the managing editor of Vogue at Fire Island, Harris then began an internship that eventually became a position at Vogue, two promotions within the company, and a final promotion to his current position at W Magazine. As to how he so quickly emerged as a promising part of the team, Harris had specific advice.
“When they want [something], you want to be the one they go to. You want them to remember you,” said Harris. “Especially when you first start, you just always have to be available. I’m also a firm believer in work hard, play harder [however].”
While their jobs differ from daily social media updates, to editing creative articles, selling the magazine brand, to preparing a photo shoot, the panel gave insightful final words of wisdom that speak truths about working within the world of fashion.
“A general rule: be [at work] before your boss, and leave after your boss,” said Anne Johnson.
“Be smart on social media because what you do on social media is going to stay with you forever,” said Claire Knebl.
“In the fashion world, everything is urgent. Everything has to be done quickly and right,” said Harris.
“As an intern, you may be intimidated to talk to your boss, but you want to be memorable,” said Bianca Rodriguez. “[Also] bribes work. Your parents tell you they don’t, but they’re wrong.”