Anyone who works in editorial management will tell you that interns are an integral part of the work process and product. I believe firmly in the importance of the intern phase in a person's career, and take leading the editorial intern program at Cupcakes and Cashmere very seriously. I hired Katharine Yamamoto, an undergrad at USC back in April, and the team has been happy with the decision since Day One. I asked Katharine to share the top lessons she's learned in her internship, with some additional insight from me below. Keep reading! -Alina, Editorial Director
While no two days are alike in the Cupcakes and Cashmere office, on a typical morning, you can find me researching content for a blog post or creating graphics for one of our series, like Style Breakdown. There’s very little downtime from the moment I step into the office, but on those rare occasions, I’m always observing, trying to absorb as much as possible.
My internship experience has been especially unique at Cupcakes and Cashmere because I can honestly say, I’ve never learned so much. Part of it might be following Alina’s advice, “You get what you put into it”, and the other part could be I’m just surrounded by exceptionally creative and driven people, so it would be impossible not to walk away learning something valuable. Needless to say I’ve learned that building relationships is key, dressing the part is just as important as the quality of your work, that it's important to ask questions since it’s the only way you’re going to learn, and to be a self-starter because there’s always another task to accomplish.
Everything about the Cupcakes and Cashmere brand is inspiring and to be able to learn even a facet of it, is quite frankly, amazing. Getting to be so hands-on in the creative process of posts and learning so much about the editorial world has been an incredibly rewarding opportunity, and an ideal, productive summer internship.
Getting to work in such a small team environment has to be my absolute favorite part. You’re not crammed into a cubicle corner or forgotten about on the first floor, but sitting a few steps away from the CEO herself. It’s this environment where you quickly learn the routine of the office flow and pick up on office jargon that’s unique to every company—making you feel a part of the team.
I’ve always been a self-proclaimed foodie—having grown up in L.A., it’s hard not to be—so when Leslie asked me one morning to tour Gwen, Curtis Stone’s new restaurant, with her I jumped at the chance. Meeting the interior designer, PR team, and Curtis himself, was my most memorable experience and such a fun memory from interning at Cupcakes and Cashmere. While I'm not meeting celebrity chefs everyday, each day holds new opportunities and experiences that are both challenging and exciting.
Exciting, refreshing, valuable
I know almost instantly if I'm going to hire an intern. If interacting with them is effortless, they seem to just "get it," and I feel I can throw them a thousand things a day without them getting flustered, it's a go. The ability to work under pressure and take constant direction throughout the day is key. In interns especially, I look for someone who is super natural/personable, but adult, professional, and composed. The last thing I want to deal with is someone who thinks this will be a gab fest and twirl in the fashion closet. I hire the person I feel is a serious person and serious worker.
In my interview with Katharine, she projected what I look for whenever I am hiring anyone, intern or employee—I need to feel complete confidence in the person in my gut. Already in the interview, I want to sense relief in this person’s abilities, not a tentativeness that makes me feel it’s going to be more work to hold their hand through tasks I give them. People hire people to get the work that needs to get done, done faster; not to be slowed down.
The key qualities that come to mind for me are professional and capable. Katharine is efficient and she is also, simply put, smart. My absolute favorite thing is knowing I can give Katharine literally any direction and she understands what I’m asking for or figures it out. There are no obstacles to delegation, which means that rather than holding up our work process, she improves it. She’s basically the perfect intern. There is no greater satisfaction for a manager than capability, which I think can be broken down into the twin qualities of adaptability and proactivity.
When I was an intern in college, I learned the importance of setting expectations. I worked for people who did not set expectations at the outset of the internship, and that lack of clarity created problems and setbacks for both of us. From then on, I made a mental note to myself that when I was managing interns one day, I would be explicit from the outset about what I expected so there was no confusion. I share when I expect them to be online, what I expect in terms of taking days off, what I expect in terms of communication and timelines for turning work in. It’s kind of like that saying, "You learn more from bad managers than good managers," because you learn what you needed when you were in those shoes.
Keep your head down and focus. Sure, nobody likes an antisocial person, but in a game of choices, I’d rather think someone was weirdly serious than inappropriately talkative. People respect serious people. Don’t insert yourself into conversations you haven’t been ’summoned’ into with physical or verbal cues. You are there to work and learn. Period. You are not there to chatter or waste everyone's time by slowing your manager down (which is my biggest work pet peeve). Just do your job, and you will go far.
Enjoyable, seamless, fulfilling.