I worked as the office assistant for the showroom, which meant I had responsibilities in the front and back of the shop. In front I was responsible for stocking accessories, greeting clients, keeping the store tidy, and occasionally making product displays. In the back of the house I steamed and pressed garments for fittings, managed inventory, prepped orders for shipping and pick-up, took calls, and booked appointments. It was important to know a little bit of every part of the business so I could adjust my actions and reactions to best fit into the overall scheme of things.
It's hard to distill into a single moment or clear-cut event, but I would say I am proud of my growth when it came to interacting with clients. I know that there are still things I can improve, but there was a moment about three-quarters of the way through the internship where I took two or three phone calls back to back that were very involved and required a bit of creative problem-solving, fast thinking, and technical knowledge. I got through both of those without issue or major hesitation, and after finishing the last call just sat for a moment and thought about my progress from being scared to answer the phone at all to being one of the first ones to reach for it when it rings.
The biggest lesson I learned was that what you see isn't always the truth - that is, there's a lot of moving parts and fewer safety nets than are apparent as a customer. It's made the thought of going into the industry on my own less daunting in many ways, because things move fast enough there will soon be another opportunity, and when you do get knocked down it isn't as far a fall as one might think and others have done the same thing as you and succeeded.
What advice would you give?
I would say work on time management, learn (faking) confidence, and try new things. New experiences give you invaluable perspective. Confidence is something that is done (sometimes through gritted teeth), not something that a person has innately. Time management helps you get the most out of any particular experience and lets a person do the most of what matters the most.