When many people think of internships, specifically in the fashion industry, what may come to mind is an image of young girls selling their souls to Anna Wintour; however, in reality, many internships are quite valuable and rewarding experiences and are definitely important while in college. My friend Sabrina, a Photography BFA student here at Parsons has a lot of different internships under her belt. When I managed to get a moment with her, we chatted about her experiences and advice for students looking for an internship.
Lauren Davis: Hey Sabrina! From the work I have seen of yours it is clear you have an interest in fashion photography – what about it is intriguing to you?
Sabrina Banta: I love the interaction with other talented and creative people to create an image. There are always different people to collaborate with. Working with a team, and having that interaction – I like it much more than working alone. I also love how fashion photography has no barriers. People are always creating something new and exciting.
LD: You are quite possibly one of the busiest girls I know and throughout college you’ve pretty much have always had an internship. What are the different ones you have had and for how long?
SB: Two months after starting my freshman year I started interning at Milk Studios, which went on for one year. I spent 7 months in the gallery and then 5 months in their digital department. During the fall of sophomore year I interned at Vogue in their photo department for 3 months, and since February I have been interning at Annie Leibovitz’s studio!
LD: You certainly have not wasted any time! Tell me about your first internship at Milk Studios, how did that come about?
SB: During fashion week I went to a panel discussion at Milk Studios sponsored by Parsons, there were a lot of different people in the industry on the panel including the fashion editor at Marie Claire. After the discussion I stuck around and showed my portfolio to everyone on the panel. The fashion editor at Marie Claire then introduced me to her husband, who is the creative director at Milk Studios, he offered me an interview for an internship, and the rest is history!
LD: Wow, you were such a brave and assertive freshman! What were your duties like at Milk?
SB: While I was at the Gallery a lot of my duties included assisting the gallery director and making sure clients were happy. I helped set up a lot of fashion shows but I was also able to go to a lot as well, which was a great experience and a good way to meet people in New York. I had just come from Hawaii and networking was all very new to me! After being in the gallery for 7 months I was ready to try something new and interned in the digital department at Milk which is much more technical and it taught me a lot about the behind the scenes of what it takes to get ready for a shoot.
LD: Fast forward to now and you are interning at renowned photographer Annie Leibovitz’s studio. What led you there?
SB: Well, I was at Vogue for a semester which was great but, I was ready to try something new. I kept in contact with photo editors at Vogue and they were able to put me in contact with Annie Lebowitz’s studio. There I do a lot of photo research, in Annie’s photography there is always a strong idea behind her photographs so there is always extensive research to be done. It is a really great opportunity to see up close how such a successful and renowned photographer works.
LD: Working for free is not always the ideal situation for many students, why do you feel internships are so important?
SB: There is only so much a classroom can teach you. I feel that a lot of what we learn in the classroom is theory and technique and internships are a great way to get real life experience. And since you are working for free you are allowed to make mistakes, you’re pretty much asking to learn, and people are always willing to help. Also, the relationships you make are very valuable and can lead to other opportunities. I recommend interning as much as you can, 100%.
LD: You definitely have a lot of experience under your belt, any advice for students wanting to score an internship?
SB: First, do not be intimidated by large companies you want to intern at. I would also recommend writing letters to your favorite editors or photographers. I wrote a letter to my favorite photographer and three days later their assistant asked me to come on set. It is so important to reach out to people: networking is key. Everyone needs interns as long as you have a dedication and willingness to learn.
Thanks for all the great advice Sabrina! Check out more of Sabrina’s work here!