Dear Kristin: I have just completed a foundation course in Art and Design. Before I start a degree course in performance costume in London next year I am planning to spend a year gaining some practical experience in a variety of areas related to theatre and design. I wonder if you know of any possibilities of an internship in this or a related area for some or all of the next twelve months. I have good organisational skills and thrive on working to deadlines. I would really appreciate any help that you could offer and, even if you are unable to help with internships, any advice you could give would be most welcome.
Dear Polly: Thank you so much for your email – I am sorry to say that I am not familiar with internship opportunities in the UK… and there aren’t very many organized opportunities here in the US, either. There is a program with the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences here in LA (more info here: http://www.emmysfoundation.org/internship-programs) but realistically, you just have to bang on doors and stick your foot in when it opens. The truth: it’s a hustle, baby – and anyone who tells you otherwise is blowing beautiful sunshine up your bum.
First, try to ask anyone you might know who is connected to the industry for their help. Maybe someone you know knows someone who knows someone who can put you in touch with someone who might be helpful. Alternatively, you can set your sights on some shows that interest you – mail them, call them, pursue them. If they respond (and they might not), make your pitch. You’ll want to talk with the costume supervisor, NOT the designer. The costume supervisor is in charge of all the hiring for the department, and he/she will be your biggest ally. Most places require that you be enrolled in school and that you get school credit for the internship. It’s an insurance liability issue. So be prepared.
Good luck to you on your journey, and please keep me posted as to your progress!! More recent FT articles about getting started in the business HERE and HERE. Frocktalkers, if you know of any organized programs in the UK (or elsewhere) for costume design interns, please let me know and I will pass it along!!