Meet 5 Fierce Interns Behind Berlin’s Creative Industries

All too often under-appreciated, it's time we shine a light on Berlin's unsung heroes — the interns who keep our creative industries afloat.

We’ve all been there — the endless coffee refills, the dreaded awkward phone calls (abruptly terminated by accidental hangings up on more than one occasion), the glimmer of a job prospect slowly fading into nothingness — such is the intern hustle. It’s a full-time job on a part-time salary, and while it may never amount to Miranda Priestley-level demands (no, we’re still not buying that ridiculous Harry P manuscript pull-off) interning can be gruelling — let us not forget the fabled Tatler sausage dog tragedy of 2013.

All too often under-appreciated, interns are both the epitome of resilience and the backbone of the creative industry. They grin and bear it through dirty work (both literal and metaphorical) and they’re rarely given due credit. But the time has come to shine a light on these unsung heroes. From Boiler Room to Ottolinger, we meet the Berlin interns keeping our favourite music, art and fashion institutions afloat.

What’s your background?

I’m from the north of Jutland originally, but I moved to Copenhagen 7 years ago and have lived there ever since. I’m studying Fashion Management, and I’ve worked as an assistant buyer for Samsøe & Samsøe, and as a visual merchandiser at Levi’s.

Why GmbH? what drew you to the brand?

It took me a long time to find the right internship because I felt like it was really important to find a brand where I would fit in both personally and aesthetically. Then I stumbled across GmbH on Instagram and immediately fell in love with their clubwear aesthetic. I was also very fond of their design approach — they mostly work with deadstock materials and produce in Europe. For me it’s really important to work in sustainable fashion, so I thought it could be a great learning experience.  

How did you apply for the job?

I actually just sent them an email. It took me a long time to find any contact information, because it’s kind of difficult online, but when I finally found it, I got in contact with Benjamin and Serhat. A few weeks later we had a Skype interview and I got it!

Is this your first internship?

Yeah! But hopefully not the last.

How would you describe GmbH’s position in the Berlin fashion scene?

I would describe them as being a really fast growing brand and definitely ones to watch! You don’t really see this kind of design approach anywhere else or brands who work with these kinds of fabrics and prints in combination. It’s also really socially conscious: employing models of colour and bringing issues of immigration to the fore — Serhat and Benjamin both come from immigrant backgrounds themselves.

What’s the most stressful situation you’ve been in during your internship?

When I lost all of the samples (laughs)…  I only booked one package, when it was supposed to be two; one of them got lost, and it was all of our samples. Luckily it arrived to the right destination and everything ended happily, but it was probably the most stressful experience I’ve ever had.

What has been the highlight?

Firstly being able to work alongside such competent and hardworking people, who’ve trusted me with such huge responsibilities. Another big highlight was going to Paris Fashion Week for our AW18 presentation — that was an incredible experience.

And finally, describe your internship in three words?

Amazing (laughs). No I’d definitely say inspirational and challenging — but in a good way.

How did you come to intern in Berlin?

I moved from Chicago to the Netherlands to study Musicology and I was there for about 6 months before I moved here. I had an interview with Michail at the old office at Arena before we moved here. I needed to do an internship for my thesis, and now it’s turned into a job!

Why Boiler Room?

I just needed a link to the city and didn’t realise that there was an office here. I remember watching Boiler Room with Thom Yorke or Flying Lotus and thinking, “That’s the coolest shit!” but I had no idea there was this other Berlin techno underground music version. The week I had my interview, they were having two shows — they’re constantly producing shows and I wanted to be busy with that.

Is this your first internship?

(Laughs) No. I’ve done too many. Sooo fucking many.

How would you describe Boiler Room’s position in the Berlin music scene?

It’s changing, and it’s different to what I was expecting. I wasn’t familiar with all of this no-camera, concealed, techno underground thing, where everyone has their space and you’re not really dancing to be seen. The longer I spent here, the more I saw us bringing cameras into the mix and how that changes people — I feel mixed about it sometimes. I think it’s giving people an opportunity to show whoever’s looking online what parties can be like, but then there’s not that mystery of what might be happening in Berghain or Tresor or all of these places that are really confidential.

Did you relocate to Berlin specifically for the internship?

In a way. If I didn’t have the internship, I would have had to work a lot harder to find my place here.

What’s the most stressful situation you’ve been in during your internship?

The most stressful is having email communication. Having the office in London and always having to be like “Hello, respond to me!” It’s so much easier when you’re there and you can just talk to people face to face.

What’s been the highlight so far?

Travelling is really nice. I love the crew. I love everybody that I work with here — the broadcast team who do camera and sound. We were just in Russia last week, it felt like the north in “Game of Thrones”. Any travelling with the team is really always great.

What 3 words would you use to describe your intern experience?

I don’t want to say stress, but stress happens. That’s my current state (laughs). I’m not gonna say that. Um… email, camera, and events. Those are the worst words (laughs).

What’s your background — how did you come to Ottolinger?

I’m from Zurich, and I moved to Berlin on Saturday — it feels like everything at the same time! I met Cosima and Christa last year in Berlin. We talked about my application for Basel, and they offered me an internship at Ottolinger.

And were you studying before?

Yeah, I did a pre-college course at an art school in Zurich. Kind of like a foundation course. That was in art — drawing and different stuff, and then you decide what path to take. At first I thought I wanted to do art, but after the course I decided to do fashion.

And is this your first internship?

Yeah! I’ve actually never worked in fashion before.

So this is the first day of your first internship! Why Ottolinger?

I always really liked Ottolinger’s design. I think when you do an internship you really have to have a connection to the design and to what the brand are doing, and I feel that with Ottolinger. They also studied at Basel, and I’ve just applied for a Fashion Bachelor there. It would actually start as soon as I finish this internship, and I find out at the beginning of May whether I’ve got in or not!

How big is the team here, are you the only intern?

At the moment, I’m the only intern, but we’ll get a new one in May. The team is small, there are 5 of us at the moment.

Why did you move to Berlin?

I came here after I finished school — it was love at first sight. I worked in Switzerland and then afterwards I went to South East Asia to travel, and then I came back to Berlin. I had an internship in a small auction house in Charlottenburg, and then I came to König.

Why König? Have you always wanted to work in the art world?

At first, I actually wanted to go into fashion, I worked at InStyle and mytheresa, but in the end I realised it wasn’t my thing, so I moved towards art. Then the auction house had really small team — we were just two or three people — and I felt I needed something different. My parents had visited König and they said, “You have to have a look at the gallery.” I came, and I loved it. 

How did you apply for the job and why do you think you got it?

I just sent them a CV and then came in to have a talk with Rafaella, who was the gallery manager at the time. We sat outside in the garden, smoked cigarettes and drinking coffee, it was a good connection. Two weeks later I was offered the job.

How would you describe König’s position in the Berlin art scene?

I think it’s more than just art. At König, music and fashion and art come together. It’s super diverse. That’s what I like about the place — I see so many different people walking in. It’s different from other galleries because it’s young. We’re working with Berghain, it’s cool.

What’s the best advice you’ve received from a member of the team?

At first, I had to answer the phone and I was super nervous about that, thinking, “I’m too shy!” But then my colleague told me, “Always smile when you pick up the phone, because people can hear your smile on the other side.” That really helped.

What does your average day consist of?

Everything everyone else doesn’t want to do (laughs). No, I sit at the desk, I welcome people, I make coffee, I answer the phones, I organise the books, the drinks, and do the mail, I talk to people about the art.

What’s the most stressful situation you’ve been in during your internship?

The first opening! It was a Katharina Grosse exhibition, and I had to manage the buffet for the VIPs and there were so many people. I was overwhelmed, but everyone kept thanking me.

What’s your background — how did you come to Mario Lombardo?

I’ve grown up with art — my father is a freelance artist, and when I started to think about what I wanted to do in life, I realised that I get the most joy from designing and creating. I wasn’t brave enough to do Fine Art, so I studied Communication Design at the Design Academy here.

Why Mario Lombardo?

I did an internship at a more classical advertising agency and realised that perhaps it wasn’t for me. That’s why I came here, because I really wanted to learn more about editorial design and graphic design. I asked my graphics professor, Fons Hickmann, for advice, and he recommended coming to a bigger studio like Mario Lombardo. I knew the name, and when I started to check out what they were doing, I really liked it, and I applied.

How did you get hired?

I sent my portfolio and my CV and they replied within an hour or so! It was nice. I think they initially liked my graphic style, or language. But this is only half of the reason. The other component is personality, and I think it’s way more important than we students think. The talk I had with the two art directors was really nice and I felt very comfortable here.

Is this your first internship?

It’s the fourth! I think internships are such important milestones in your development because, aside from developing skills, they’re also about finding out what you want to do later.

What’s the best advice you’ve received from a member of the team?

Ask more than you want to — or don’t hesitate to ask. At my previous internship, I didn’t do that enough. They’re so open for that here, which is really important for me.

What’s the most stressful situation you’ve been in during your internship?

Everything’s gone pretty smoothly so far, but I’m only three days in. I think that’s a question for later (laughs).

 

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