Joana Vukatana

From an Intern to a Boss

Joana Vukatana
From an Intern to a Boss

Hey girly!

I was inspired to write todays article because of how much I have learned from being an intern to being my own boss. So many people I meet are always curious about who I was before blogging, so I wanted to share that with you to inspire you in your own careers. Let’s begin!

Ahhh, I can remember it like yesterday. I was a 19-year-old hungry intern at a high powered fashion house rocking a Theory suit, vintage blouse, and Gucci pointed toe pumps. That outfit was tah dieMy desk faced a wall everyday, but none of that mattered to me. I was just happy to be there, be given the opportunity, and my outfits were always cute since they insisted I wear a suit everyday, when everyone else around me was in jeans. That is really weird now that I think about it, ha. One day, I was called into the main showroom where all of the important appointments took place. I was never in there before so I got so excited! Do they want me to style? Do they want to give me more responsibility and step up my game? They must see potential in me for growth! As I walked in, I saw one of my boss’s wailing her finger in a circle, “Can you get this?”, she motioned. “Get what?” “This. The food. And the dirty plates.” After picking up my jaw from the floor and holding back the tears that would have ruined my perfect MAC foundation complexion, I starting picking up everyone’s plates, one by one. And just like out of a movie, the custodian popped his head in and said, “Oh you got this? Good.” Literally, OUT. OF. A. MOVIE. I was confused and angry and confused and insulted and fuming and upset and did I mention confused? As soon as I was done getting the crumbs off  my youthful power suit, I poked my head into accessories to see if my BFF was around. She happened to be interning there too and we quickly met in the bathroom for a tear jerk sesh. I came here to work and learn, NOT to clean! I wanted to say something to my bosses but my BFF insisted we just get through the internship and that it will all be okay. We hugged it out and I walked myself back to stare at my wall. It was probably one of the lowest moments I ever had being an intern in the four years that I worked for free, in order to get my foot in the door at such a young age. But hey, I knew what I wanted and I kept my eye on the prize.

I went on to start my career at Barney’s New York. I was promoted to be the youngest personal shopper in Barney’s New York history. At 23, it was the total dream job. I was able to shop and style men and women and make them feel good everyday. After that, I went on to launch my styling company and took a lot of my clients with me. I was signed with FORD for 2.5 years, built my portfolio there, went on castings for shows and television gigs and I loved every minute of it. It was a wild ride, to say the least, and I had a fantastic run. Now, i get to connect with YOU everyday (yay!), in hopes of inspiring you to be yourself, have a voice, and go for everything you want, while having a healthy sense of humor and being able to laugh along the way.

It’s so important to be remembered for your gratitude, grace, and sense of style from the inside out. And believe me…just when you think no one is watching…all eyes are on you. Here is my SL master list of how to get ahead at your job and/or continue to keep up your stellar work reputation. This can apply to your daily life too and are all “character skills” that people will notice in you. YOU GOT THIS!

Be a leader, not a follower. Don’t worry about what the other people around you are doing. Do you and do your job well. FOMO is not an option.

Remember people’s names. One of the most important qualities in life and one that many struggle with. All I can think about is Ann Hathaway in The Devil Wears Prada remembering all the names for Miranda and Miranda being extremely impressed with her in that moment. She didn’t get to go to Paris for nothing, ladies! Think of Paris! Know names!

Have a firm handshake. Nothing is worse than a limp handshake. My father taught me how to shake someone’s hand since the moment I had a grip. If someone has a bad handshake, it can give off the impression that that other person thinks they are more important than you and that’s ridiculous because you’re unreal.

Do what needs to be done before being told to do it. Being an assistant to two personal shoppers at Barney’s before I was given my own chance, teaches you A LOT. My old manager used to say that no one ever saw my face because I would breeze by so quickly. I was always running, always a step ahead, and always wanted to do a good job.

Know how to write a proper email. Dear ___, I hope this email finds you well. (this is an easy, professional opener). End with “Best, __”

The client is always right if you are in a service business. No if’s, and’s, or buts about this one. No matter how much you want to fight back, sometimes you just have to bite your tongue.

Say please. Always.

Say thank you. Always and it can never be enough. If I had a penny for the amount of times I felt under appreciated because someone didn’t give me a simple thank you, I could take you on a serious shopping spree right now.

Make eye contact. Don’t look down. Don’t look around. Be present, in the moment, and engaged.

Bring your own ideas to the table. Don’t be scared. Just do it. You will be the one who gets the promotion one day.

Take your best skills and apply them to your job. If you have a skill that you can implement into your job, do it. Everyone has their own ways of doing things and talents, so get it done in the best way you know how.

Trust your gut. If it doesn’t feel right, something is off. There is a voice in your head for a reason. Step back and reevaluate the situation.

If you don’t ask, you don’t get. Speak up! No one around you is a mind reader. The best piece of advice my father ever gave me.

Ask for a raise/promotion when the time is right. Refer to the above. Go for IT!

Make friends at your job. No one likes that one person who just thinks they are better than everyone and can’t go out for after work drinks or have lunch with colleagues. Making friends at work will give you a support system and make you feel like you are part of a team.

Be nice to everyone. Never change just because of your position. No matter how high up your role may be, respecting those around you will gain you even more respect.

Know how to answer a phone. Don’t sound annoyed, don’t sound flustered, don’t sound uninterested. When people are rude on the phone, it eats me up inside! More times than not, someone will complain about how rude you just were to a manager. Just don’t do it.

Know how to eloquently speak on the phone. If someone can’t see you in person, the next best thing is phone etiquette. Know how to speak professionally without sounding stuffy and you’ll nail the call.

Ask as many questions as possible. Don’t make assumptions. Ever. You will only need to redo your work if your boss doesn’t like it. One of my old bosses told me to never assume anything, so I would ask her 1000 questions a day. I felt so annoying, but in the end I was always able to do the exact job that she wanted, in the way she wanted, and never needed to redo my work.

Know when it’s time to move on. Story of my life. Leaving one career to start another is very scary and sometimes causes extreme anxiety. But if you feel that it’s your time, take the leap of faith and know that whatever it is that you do, as long as it’s you doing it, it will be fantastic.

x, LL