Oh, the humble internship…it seems like being an intern is a right-of-passage that we must all go through in order to get our perfectly pedicured feet into the door of the notoriously difficult-to-crack art world. Many of us toil away for hours during our college summers – alas mostly unpaid – in order to get just a hint of experience at a gallery or auction to put on our resumés.
An intern’s job is often thankless, basic and, if we’re honest, soul-destroying. Let’s face it, who likes being the coffee girl, the photocopy girl or the filing girl? The answer my friends is nobody. But, that internship does usually give that coffee/photocopy/filing girl the ammunition she needs to achieve greatness. And, we’ve got to be honest; art world internships even helped some of the team here at The Art Gorgeous. At 19 I had a press internship at London’s White Cube gallery. Fresh-faced, driven and keen to make a mark on the gallery, I threw myself into all the menial tasks given to me, often finishing them at top speed in order to “prove myself” worthy of more interesting jobs. Of course, they didn’t care, and when my stint was up, another wannabe gallerina was ready and waiting to take my place, perfectly unaware that she would be spending most of her days at the photocopier, far away from a single press release or artwork. Seven years later however, I turned my blog Gallery Girl into a business and now, art world PR’s – like my ex-boss at White Cube – are now begging me to write about their shows, sometimes even paying for international press trips abroad *insert nail-painting emoji here*
There are countless sheroes who began their careers at the bottom of the food chain, now killing the game in ways the baby versions of themselves never would have believed possible when they were interns. So, without further ado, here are the women slaying the game, providing you with the hope you need when you feel like throwing in the towel mid-internship.
Emily Weiss, Founder of Glossier
Interned at Teen Vogue
MTV classic The Hills began its original five-year run in the offices of Teen Vogue, shining a spotlight on the lives of fashion wannabes Lauren Conrad and Whitney Port. But, we’re not here to talk about the MTV cast. No, we want to remind you of the “super-intern” they kept complaining about. Remember Emily Weiss? Conrad’s and Port’s nemesis went on to found cult beauty brand Glossier in 2014. The brand now has millions of Instagram followers, and has been featured in every fashion and beauty mag under the sun, proving that being branded a “super-intern” isn’t a bad thing after all.
Bridget Finn, Partner at Reyes Finn
Interned at Anton Kern Gallery
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Can’t wait to open these doors tomorrow! We are so excited to welcome everyone to our new gallery. Thank you to @detroitfreepress and @ryanpatrickhooper for this outstanding article on our partnership and relocation to Detroit. “Opening on Friday and running through May 11, its first show will present a trio of New York-based artists working in colorful, abstract styles. Entitled “Senior Coconut,” the group exhibition includes new works from Eddie Martinez, Gerasimos Floratos and Rafael Delacruz.” *LINK IN BIO* #eddiemartinez #rafaeldelacruz #gerasimosfloratos #reyesfinn #detroit #detroitfreepress #culturalcouncil
Bridget Finn secured at unpaid internship at Anton Kern after her roommate was promoted to the role of his assistant. After the six-month position ended, she missed the gallery so much that she rang up and asked for a permanent role, staying on as an archivist for another three years. During this time she created her own space – Cleopatra’s – with some friends, a project that ran alongside their art world careers for a decade, talk about serious side-hustle. She now runs Reyes Finn, a gallery she founded with Terese Finn in Detroit in 2017.
Betsey Johnson, Fashion Designer
Interned at Mademoiselle
Fashion queen Betsey Johnson spent a summer as an intern at Mademoiselle magazine after graduating from the Pratt Institute. She opened her boutique Betsey Bunky Nini in the Upper East Side in 1969, where Edie Sedgwick was her house model. She later took control of fashion label Alley Cat, with her debut collection selling over $5 million, going on to start her own line in 1978. Fashion royalty, she was inducted into the Fashion Walk of Fame in 2002, and continues to design clothes today.
Bonus intern: Sylvia Plath once interned at Mademoiselle too!
Rebecca Camacho, Founder of Rebecca Camacho Presents
Interned at Capp Street Project
Having previously worked in cafes and salons, Rebecca Camacho got an internship at artist residency program Capp Street Project at 22. One of the directors – Tony Meier – went on to ask her to work one day a week at his newly opened Anthony Meier Fine Arts gallery in 1998, a job that evolved into a full time gig. Two decades later – as recently as May 2019 – she launched her own gallery in San Francisco, representing eight contemporary artists, proving that girl can do this on her own.
Anne Hathaway, Actress
Interned at Christie’s
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"Un millón de chicas matarían por ese puesto" ☝️ Y la pobre Andy corrió de un lado al otro con el café de, la leyenda de la moda, Miranda Priestly. Así recordamos la icónica película 'El diablo viste a la moda' por su 13avo aniversario. ???????? . . . #devilwearsprada #merylstreep #annehathaway #eldiablovistealamoda
Everyone remembers Anne Hathaway’s iconic role of Andrea “Andy” Sachs in The Devil Wears Prada, but did you know that she went undercover as an intern to prepare for her role as the lowly assistant? And what’s more, she went for an internship in the art world, Christie’s to be precise. During her time at the auction house she did the typical intern-things like getting coffee and helping around the office.
Oprah, Media Mogul
Interned at WLAC-TV
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- S C H N U C H E L - Quand Oprah Winfrey porte un modèle de chez Schnuchel – #crush . Modèles semi sur-mesure à composer soi même – entièrement fabriqués à la main et de façon artisanale .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ #victorlunetier #lesopticienseyelike #marseille #quartiersaintvictor #endoume #savoirfaire #artisanlunetier #lunettesdecréateur #opticien #opticiencreateur #meilleursopticiens #opticienmarseille #igersmarseille #choosemarseille #summercollection #collection2019 #schnuchel #schnucheleyewear #womenaccesories #oprah #oprahwinfrey
Oprah may be queen of the universe now, but she was once an intern just like the rest of us. She interned at WLAC-TV, where she became Nashville’s first African-American television correspondent in 1973. By 1984 she had begun hosting the Oprah Winfrey Show, establishing her first production company in 1988. She has received dozens of Emmys, launched a magazine, book club and a television network, proving that there really is nothing that Oprah can’t do.
Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, Founders of The Row
Interned at Annie Leibovitz and Zac Posen
After finishing their media careers, and before founding The Row, twin superstars Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen were interns (not that they needed to be, since they were already worth $300 million). As first year students at New York University’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study, the twins were required to become interns and so they went for the crème de la crème of internship gigs. Mary-Kate with Annie Leibovitz and Ashley at Zac Posen.
Peggy Leboeuf, Partner at Perrotin
Interned at a “Prestigious Gallery”
Perrotin-girl Peggy Leboeuf managed to secure a one-day-internship at a “prestigious gallery” in Paris at the age of 23. On that very same day she was asked if she could lend a hand to the gallery upstairs, she met Emmanuel Perrotin, with whom she works to this day. Talk about luck!
Rachel Uffner, Founder of Rachel Uffner Gallery
Interned at Christie’s
Rachel Uffner interned in the contemporary art department at Christie’s right out of college, going on to secure paid positions at Christie’s East on the Upper East Side. She opened her eponymous gallery in 2008, which is still going strong more than a decade later.
Andrea Jung, CEO of Avon
Interned at Bloomingdale’s
While studying at Princeton, Andrea Jung spent a summer interning at Bloomingdale’s. She then worked a number of retail related jobs before joining Avon in 1994. She ascended through the ranks and became chairman (chairwoman) in 2001. As well as killing it in the business game, Jung is a supporter of many non-profits working to help women’s issues and in 2010 received the Clinton Global Citizen Award for her work with public-private partnerships to end violence against women. Talk about inspiration!
Text by Lizzy Vartanian
Images via @emilyweiss, @rebeccacamachopresents, @betseyjohnson, @reyes_finn, @revistawapa, @victorlunetier, @smokeymountainsmoke, @peggynewyorkperrotin, @racheluffner, @humsoc_mmc