Meet Melanie Hogue, a rising senior at Duke University who recently wrapped up two dazzling internships.
Chanel and Warner Bros. are two of the most sought-after companies to intern for. After all, one must imagine that Chanel interns sip café au lait with Karl Lagerfeld and Warner Bros. interns hang out on movie sets like Harry Potter and The Hangover almost daily.
Melanie Hogue just interned for both and, although reality is quite different from what one imagines a dream internship to consist of, it’s just as thrilling.
Here’s how to score an internship at Chanel and Warner Bros. (Hint: it begins in high school!)
1. What is your background?
I come from maple syrup and Inca Kola, but I was born in South Florida. My name is Melanie Hogue and I am a rising senior at Duke University. But some people may know me as Jay’s sister, from Survivor season 33. While I enjoy the reference, I do have a story of my own.
I grew up the daughter of two immigrants, my mom being Peruvian and my dad, French Canadian. Through my own cultural diversity I have found comfort in being able to visit new places, study diverse cultures, and undergo unique experiences. Among these opportunities were internships at the New York headquarters of Chanel and the Warner Bros. Studio in Burbank, California.
2. What was your high school experience like?
Thinking back to my high school experience, I would have to say that I spent most of my time looking towards the future. I was motivated and dedicated to this idea of success. It didn’t have anything to do with money, all I wanted was to know that I was doing the best that I could. So, I spent my time studying, doing homework, and joining as many extracurricular activities as I possibly could.
Today, I am positive that it was both my drive and determination that got me to where I am. There wasn’t one top university I wasn’t aiming for back in high school. So, by my senior year, I was acing all seven of my advanced placement courses, plus an extra online course I took for “fun.” However, it was all worth it in the end when I gave my salutatorian speech. Although I was quite nervous, I knew I was turning over a new chapter.
3. What was life at Duke like?
Life at Duke was nothing and everything I had hoped for. Without exaggeration, these past three years have dramatically changed my life. Through my time at Duke University, I have been able to explore the world around me, develop new connections, and push myself beyond my limits. Thus, it is this immersive education that I am so thankful for. Not only did it allow me to learn in and outside of the classroom, but also, Duke University taught me about whom I am as an individual. And for that I am forever thankful.
4. How did you go about securing an internship at Chanel?
Last fall, as part of the Duke in New York program, I received the extraordinary opportunity to land an internship with one of the top fashion houses in world, Chanel. Through the contacts this program provided me with, I found myself contacting a former Duke alumna and present Chanel employee.
After sending my resume and cover letter directly to my contact, I went through two phone interviews, one with human resources and a second with my future supervisor. A few weeks later, after a third round of interviews, I found myself walking down Fifth Avenue, my heels clicking against the hard concrete. I had successfully obtained a dream internship at Chanel.
For just under three months, I interned with the Multi-Brand Retail department and accessories division at Chanel. As my first internship in the fashion industry, it was such a rewarding process. Not only was I able to understand more about the industry, but it also allowed me to take my first step into the real world. I will never forget what a great opportunity I had working at Chanel.
“Keep your heels, head, and standards high.” ~Coco Chanel
5. You also interned at Warner Bros. recently. How do the two internships differ?
I interned for Warner Bros. in both their story and creative development departments. From the very beginning, when I first stepped on to the Warner Bros. studio lot, I knew I had walked into something special.
During my time there, I uncovered an enormous passion for development in the film industry. It was such an incredible opportunity to see how one idea can form into a living, breathing project.
Taking everything into consideration, it is impossible to compare my internship at Warner Bros. with my previous internship at Chanel. Although I would argue that both internships deal with creativity and storytelling, the two differ in most ways you would imagine. Perhaps the best way they demonstrate this is through their reflections of the cities they are located in. While fashion is a grand staple in New York City, Los Angeles is known for its Hollywood focus. Comparing the two cities is just as difficult as comparing my two internship experiences.
6. What does a day in your life look like?
A day in my life as an intern is always unique. You never know what is going to hit your desk next. At Warner Bros., you could walk into the office and be greeted with a new script submission or project the team wants to work on. As a development intern it is your job to work with your team to find the next big hit. Similarly, while interning for Chanel, no day was like the last. Some days I would find myself working in the sample closet and other days I was running through sales reports. One thing is for sure when becoming an intern, you have to be ready for anything!
7. What were the highlights of both internships?
The highlight of both internships was immersing myself in the two different sectors of the creative industries. I have been so lucky in obtaining hands on experience in these fields and I have learned a great deal. What’s more, my internships have allowed me to be a part of some amazing projects and work with incredible people along the way. Overall, I am reminded every day of what a privilege it was working for these two companies.
8. What are some things you’re excited about right now?
At this point in my life, I feel as though I have a lot to be excited for. A few years ago, I would have never imagined the position I would find myself in today. But these days I can’t help but dream about where the future might lead me.
9. What is one piece of advice you would give to those aspiring for success?
One piece of advice I would give anyone aspiring for success is to ask yourself what “success” means to you, and then never deny yourself the possibility of reaching that goal. Believing in yourself and what you can achieve is essential to any dream. Beyond that, I would say to never let fear hold you back from those dreams. It is one thing to be afraid, and another to let fear control your life.
10. You travel a lot – which experience was your favorite?
My traveling has more to do with learning about other cultures, people, and places. I enjoy pushing myself beyond my comfort zone and believe life is about making memories. I just spent the semester in Los Angeles with a study away program through Duke University. The semester turned out to be incredible, from my internship to my classes, I learned so much about the entertainment industry. Although when it comes to international travel, I think volunteering in Peru for two months was one of the highlights. My mother was raised in Peru and hasn’t been back for thirty years. Thus, this allowed me the chance to walk in her shoes.
11. Where do you hope your career will take you?
Growing up, I found myself immersed in stories. Whether they were in print, film, or music, the practice of storytelling has always inspired me. My hope for my future is that I will find a fulfilling career in which storytelling can be a part of it. Whether it is mine or someone else’s, I believe every single person has a story worth sharing.
Some facts about Melanie:
- Her favorite fashion icon is “anyone whose style is true to themselves. But of course I will always have a soft spot for Coco Chanel.”
- She would describe her personal style as “Boho-chic.”
- Her favorite TV show? “Survivor. Am I biased? Of course I am.”
- As a kid, she wanted to be a “Chef – who doesn’t love food as a kid?!”
- Her favorite meme:
Cover photo shot by Sylvain Hogue
**2018 Update: Melanie is currently interning at Don Congdon Associates, the literary agency behind books like Fahrenheit 451 and The Help. Follow her journey online at @_its_mel.