In this installment of our Careers in Beauty series, we interviewed Kara from @smolandsilky to talk about how she landed multiple marketing internships at phenomenal companies. We discuss her experience, her educational background, and ultimately how she came about landing those positions. Kara recently graduated from the University of San Francisco, and after these great internships, she has been able to land a full-time job at Beautylish! Read on to learn more about her journey.
What led you to study Marketing?
I was never planning on going into beauty; that was just a hobby of mine since I was a kid. But I was interested in marketing because I always liked selling things. When I was younger, my passion was stationary. I was living in Thailand and would often travel to Japan and Hong Kong and buy cute pens, stickers, and pencils! I would sell them online on Instagram as well at craft fairs and other events in Bangkok. I did that for nearly two years during high school.
When did you realize you could merge your passion for marketing and beauty together?
My school here in San Francisco had a career centre and I attended an event they were hosting called the Glam Trek. The idea was to get students to go on trips to different companies and do site visits. I had the chance to visit Sephora’s HQ, and it was then that I realized I could work in the beauty industry and turn my hobby into a job. My first beauty internship was with a local beauty company I found through the same career event. I got this opportunity by reaching out to the owner of this company and asked if she needed help, and she said yes!
What was your first internship focused on?
It was a little unusual because she was a makeup artist and self-made entrepreneur with a makeup line. I essentially created work for myself by trying to help wherever I could. I quickly noticed that her website was outdated and worked on helping modernize it. I looked into Shopify and thought myself how it worked, and then used my learnings to help create a website for her that was more on-brand, easy to navigate for her and her customers, and an overall better platform for selling her products.
How did you land internships with Haleys Beauty and Aether beauty?
My second internship was at HALEYS Beauty. I found the role on LinkedIn, applied, interviewed, and became their first-ever intern! I was there for the entire summer, and lucky for me it was paid! I was doing a lot of different things like social media content: planning the feed, writing captions, and compiling hashtags. I would do their email marketing and even some UX/UI design for their website. I would also help out with their fulfillment process by packing and organizing their shipments. I also did a lot of their product photography, and funny enough, that’s what led to starting @smolandsilky!
The next internship came during my last year of university, and it was with Aether Beauty. It’s a funny story about how I got introduced to them. I was shopping at a craft fair in San Francisco, and I saw Tiila, the founder, at the Aether booth. She was selling the product from the booth, and I didn’t know who she was when I approached the booth to try her products. She gave me her card after a brief conversation. I did some research on her and the brand story and values, and both really resonated with me. I reached out to her on LinkedIn, and she offered me an internship!
Was there a formal interview process for the Aether Beauty internship?
It was just a formal interview but in a relaxed atmosphere at coffee shop. We talked through my experience and my background. She did offer me this position to help her, but she did say it was unpaid. That was fine by me because I knew I would learn so much through this experience.
I am generally not a fan of unpaid internships, but in some circumstances it is understandable as some newer brands can’t afford it. If you have the ability and the time to still do these internships, I would recommend doing them if you feel like you can connect with the brand and founder and learn from the experience. I would recommend focusing specifically on the areas you want to work on and learn about (e.g. social media marketing, fulfillment, product photography, customer relationships, etc.).
As long as you feel like you are having an impact on the brand and you are learning in the process, that’s all that matters. Pick a project that would have a quantifiable impact, and that you can make a difference with. You’ll be able to put that on your resume and impress the next place you apply to!
How did you end up getting a marketing internship at Beautylish?
I was already managing @smolandsilky, and in the previous semester, I met up with an HR representative from Beautylish who was visiting a career fair at my college. I spoke to her briefly, and she gave me good advice on how to reach beauty brands. Eventually, Beautylish had an open position relevant to me and I reached out to her again to apply. The interview process was intense and included a presentation made to the CEO, and I eventually got the internship!
The question they always ask in interviews is why do you want to work in beauty. They want to know about your past experience and how you can benefit their company.
What I learned from the HR representative is that I should never want to work for a beauty company only because you love makeup. Show your passion, but talk about technical skills you can bring, experience that makes you unique, and your educational background that could be relevant, etc. You loving makeup is not the only thing that will get you the position, it’s a lot more than that. I’m pretty sure everyone who applies to the beauty industry loves makeup, so you need something that will differentiate you from every other candidate.
Tell us about the Beautylish internship, and how it eventually led to a full-time job.
When I started my internship I was in charge of influencer marketing and the huge PR list for Good Molecules in Beautylish. After a while, my manager saw @smolandsilky and my YouTube videos and was impressed. He wanted to fill a gap in advertising and asked me to make ads through videos and images, and he gave me complete independence to oversee the project. I did a makeshift studio with cardboard and lights and shot an ad for the Good Molecules eye patches. He really liked the end result, and that ad is still running to this day!. After that, my internship focus changed from influencer marketing to advertising. I was in charge of planning and filming the advertisements, and sometimes even modelling in them!
When the time came, I didn’t have to formally apply to the full-time position. My manager actually called me when the internship was ending and asked if I wanted to stay. He asked me what I wanted to work on next, and then we proceeded to discuss terms of the full-time role. I truly feel lucky to have the chance to join this organization!
What are some key strengths you recommend to people who are interested in this field to have when applying to such positions?
You need to practice creativity. That’s what attracts people to your brand when they see you. Communication is essential as well; you are always working with influencers and reaching out to them, and you have to work with different people on your team. Time management is another asset to have. You usually have more than one project, and being able to prioritize between work, school work, and life can be challenging. You must be organized and be able to juggle multiple things at once.
What advice do you have for people who want to get into this space?
Don’t be afraid to reach out to strangers you think can help you. There is no harm in asking! People appreciate hustlers that reach out and show interest and passion for the brand. You never know where it might lead you in your career. Also, learn PhotoShop and Illustrator, and even photography. These skills are so important to have that companies value. In general, I would say that having technical skills and creativity is very valuable.