internships and apprenticing ~ the who, how, when, where and WHY of your first steps into the future…

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied
is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work
is to love what you do.
If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.
As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.”
~ steve jobs




above / cooking with alice waters for tom luddy’s 70th (photo: pam esterson), styling with jake wall and kimberly roselle (photo: kelly puleio), royal bernberg and her collection for WorldWideWomen’s Girl’s Festival (photo: mark serr), alice and I at salon dinner #11 August 2012; on set of The Deep Sky with luise helm, sarah rose butler and kelechi nwadibia (photo: cynthi stefanoni), chef adam sobel and august bernberg at Micheal Mina’s test kitchen, royal at a salon dinner #11, 4th street, berkeley; racheal matthews and I at my atelier on 4th street, 2015; royal and I in my very first studio space in oakland 2004 (photo: jock mcdonald).


“I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.” -Albert Einstein


Over the years, since the beginning of my clothing line way back in 2000 til the studio closure in 2015 ~ and through the 96 salon dinners which all started with an apprenticeship at Chez Panisse, and most recently with my work on Frazer Bradshaw’s indie feature The Deep Sky ~ what has come up time and time again is the question of “shadowing”, interning, apprenticing (staging) and becoming a personal assistant … whatever you want to call it. I have recently been asked (as in the past couple of weeks) a dozen times about how to get these positions, or what people can do to help, assist, collaborate… Here are some tips for thinking about it, with questions to ask yourself, the person you want to work with, and with a bunch of my favorite resources in each field…

Whilst in high school and in college ~ intern, intern, intern. I began at what seemed to be on the earlier side of interning (at the time) when I was in between high school and college with my very first internship at my college’s Bursar’s department at College of the Holy Cross ~ but it was called “work study” so i actually got paid…

During college I did a mixture of internships (whilst spending summers in Colorado Springs) teaching art to children at Bemis Art School, learning about portfolio diversity at Merrill Lynch (when I thought I wanted to be an investment banker) and as a researcher on historical exhibits at the Pioneer’s Museum; I also did work study gigs at the Cantor Art Gallery and helped with anything to do with running/maintaining a gallery, including talking with (and making comfortable) the people who came through the doors to see the Rodin pieces, student art works and traveling exhibitions. Meaning, I needed to know a little (at least) about a lot in order to engage everyone who not only came through the door, but also with whom I worked and wherever it happened to be. What I have learned through the years after not taking the path of an investment banker at Cantor Fitzgerald and heading in a more creative-seeming direction working at the Guggenheim Museum in NYC, and after a 3 month internship there, which led to a 3 month internship in education at MOMA (and simultaneously working as a personal asst at Stux Gallery in Soho) and then leaving NYC altogether to take on a 3 month studentship at Collezione Peggy Guggenheim in Venice, Italy which led to a 2 month internship the following year working with Bill Viola’s Buried Secrets exhibition at the Venice Biennale in 1995… is THIS ~
* one thing leads to another * taking a variety of jobs in similar disciplines teaches you both what you like and also what you might not like to do * you need to figure out very quickly but over time how you can become invaluable to the people you work with.


“tell me and i forget. teach me and i remember. involve me and i learn.” ~ benjamin franklin


BEFORE you start, make some lists, define goals and answer the following questions. You can do this privately, or if you feel comfortable ~ ask a friend or family member to ask you these questions. and maybe have them ask you the same set of questions over each month, over a 6 month period… (or each day, over a one week period!)

Think of who, what, when, where, and of course WHY?! This applies for both students in actual fashion, film and culinary programs or (what i highly recommend) for people who might be studying something else but their passion, ultimately, is in fashion, film, food, and art… (to name a few). You can intern in something that you know a lot about or something that you don’t and want to… It’s all about curiosity…


Research your favorite local and not so local Fashion BRANDS ~ are you more corporate or more boutique? Are you thinking more Levis, Lululemon, or in between ~ based here, made elsewhere? Kit and Ace, Everlane or Modern Citizen; or JAKE, Colleen Quen, Betabrand, Lily Samii or Vasily Vein, Joseph Domingo, Karen Caldwell or Tokyo Gamine… I love places like Torso Vintage, The Perish Trush, Crossroads (in Berkeley, Oakland and SF), Sola Lucy, Alameda Flea Market, or more high end boutiques like CIELO on Fillmore, Emily Holt’s Hero Shop, Sherri McMullen’s McMullen in Oakland, Barbara Dryden’s Rue Atelier, Desiree Alexander’s DISH in SF… (saddened by the recent closures of my two ritual stops for fashion ~ Karen Park’s RedBird and Jeremy Kidson’s JEREMY’S)…SO ~ do you like boutiques and shopping experiences? (consignment, vintage, new?) or collections and the actual design process?  or do you really want to open the next 10 CORSO COMO, Milan (my very favorite inspirational boutique from years ago, and still existing and expanding and inspiring as ever) … or do you like thinking about the role of fashion in culture; in the daily lives of teenagers? in the role of style in the lives of dog owners? Seriously, pick your niche or 3, and start thinking about it, writing about it.

And then really ask yourself the question ~ what do you want to get from the experience? In the end (as in goal), do you want to be a fashion designer? a fashion show producer? a stylist? hair and make-up? or do you just like looking at fashion from afar? and therefore want to be a director of social media? All of these questions are relevant as you move forward…and if you still don’t know, watch a few seasons of Project Runway, re-watch The Devil Wears Prada and The Intern, and re-acquaint yourself with Downton Abbey and The House of Elliott…or The September Issue, Funny Face, Dior and I, and one of my all time favorites about Diana Vreeland ~ The Eye Has to Travel…

For FILM ~ 

Same… research who is local (know your terrain), as in local independent filmmakers (some who have become well known) like Ryan Coogler or Rob Epstein or Pixar’s Brad Bird and Pete Docter or Barry Jenkins (now based in LA), or independent fiction and doc filmmakers like Frazer Bradshaw, Sheri Shuster, Vivian Kleinman, Anthony Lucero, Gina Leibrecht, Jesse Moss, Alexandra Lexton to name a few… Research is key… Also know what are the local film companies in the area ~ from Pixar and Lucas Film/ILM to Skywalker Sound and Redford Center, and Berkeley-based Tippett Studios. Who are the local producers, production designers… and …. which aspect of film are you REALLY interested in? Meaning, what are YOU bringing to the table? Are you an amazing storyteller and want to write screenplays? Fabulous photographer and want to be a cinematographer? a fashion designer and want to be a costume designer, or wardrobe asst? Or do you love the idea of bringing together film-lovers at film festivals? Again, know the key components to a film production or film festival (read a couple books) and select a few you are interested in, and research a bit ~ but get on set… somehow. Attach yourself to a small short film production, music video, commercial, whatever ~ apply for a student symposium (I went to Telluride Film festival as a student back in 1998 and then became co-director Tom Luddy’s assistant for 5 years; and I am working with Colin Stanfield (along with an advisory committee) on Prince Edward Island’s Film,Food & Idea Festival this July 2017)… start watching, assisting, shadowing to know both what you might like to do, and also what you definitely don’t want to do… or rather, isn’t ideal ~ in many cases, you will be asked to do many things you might not like to do. Just make a record of it somewhere ~ likes, dislikes, and more importantly, what you love to do and are great at, and what might not be the direction for you to go in…

For FOOD ~

Ask yourself, what do you love about food? Besides eating it… the ritual of going to dinner? making the food? prepping the ingredients? serving it? engaging with the customer? criticizing it? Do you want to open your own restaurant some day? Or be the chef of a restaurant? Or write cookbooks and tell stories about your eating, traveling and food experiences? Or do you want to expand the education around food (check out Berkeley-based The Edible Schoolyard) or help people who have eating disorders (check out ProjectHeal) or learn more about food through education (Berkeley Food Institute at UC Berkeley is a fabulous resource)… Pick out three aspects of the food industry/world and make a list of your fantasy restaurants and roles and go for it… Eat there, research it, know who is who and ask how you can be a part of it as a paid employee or as an apprentice/intern… Think BIG ~ what are some of the local iconic places to eat ~ visionaries or just local successful businesses that you think are awesome, love their food and their methodologies ~ in the Bay Area (for me) what comes to mind are ~

1. chez panisse / berkeley ~ alice waters
2. coi, l’ocol, alta, haven / oakland, SF ~ daniel patterson, roy choi
3. pizzaiolo, penrose, boot & shoe / oakland ~ charlie hallowell
4. ramen shop / oakland ~ sam white, rayneil de guzman, jerry jaksich
5. starling social club / oakland ~ sam white, adam hatch, austin holey, eric siemens
6. A16 Rockridge (and SF), SPQR ~ Shelley Lindgren
7. mina test kitchen, RN74 / sf ~ adam sobel, michale mina, raj parr
8. revival RBK, venus / berkeley ~ amy louise murray

* then there’s mourad’s aziza OR mourad, dominique’s atelier crenn, pim techamuanvivit’s kin khao…

and my favorite “to go” places like Thad Vogler’s Trou Normand, the iconic Tosca Cafe (Ken Friedman and April Bloomfield) and Angela and Larry Tse’s The House in North Beach. There are many many more… but these come to mind… Like I said, know your terrain. And know your market ~ high end, or basic yumminess. I love Zachary’s pizza just as much as one of Charlie’s pizzas at Pizzaiolo. It’s pizza done very differently for two very different types of experiences… what experience do you want to be a part of?

For ART ~ 

What about the art world is interesting to you? The art itself ~ do you want to make it, do it, think about it, talk about it, write about it? Or is it the experience of seeing art in exhibitions in galleries or museums? old historical art that tells a story about a place and culture? or more modern or contemporary art that is made for art’s sake? Make a list of your 5 favorite museums, visit 10 galleries, and then read 3 books, such as Tom Wolf’s The Painted Word, Sarah Thornton’s Seven Days in the Art World or John Berger’s Way of Seeing, to start (there are 25 more I could recommend off the top of my head)… NOW ~ ask yourself again, why art? what is it about the art world that you like? the people? the objects? the aura? the atmosphere? And, where? I worked in the art worlds (sometimes on the periphery) in Worcester, MA, NYC (Soho, uptown and midtown), Venice, Italy; London, UK; San Francisco; Kingston, Jamaica ~ and they are all very different, but also have a lot in common. Read Art Worlds by Howard Becker and then rethink everything. Ask yourself again what and why, and then at this point you might understand how…

1. on fashion / Harper Bazaar’s Lauren Alexis Fisher
2. Coveteur’s Emily Ramshaw tips from 9 fashion professionals
3. advice from Abby Beuse, an ex-intern for Alexander Wang, currently at Marc Jacobs
4. Check out INDEED for local internships ~ Levi’s, Ruby Press, Anthropologie, Vera Wang, and even Ross, Nordstrom. Also listed are some interesting architecture and interior design paid internships with the likes of Gensler, IDEO, Linden Alley (event production/art installations). AND, contact me if you want to be involved in this year’s WorldWideWomen’s Girl’s Festival as a fashion show intern…

5. on film / Pixar Internships… this is a question i get all the time (because, yes, my husband has worked there as a supervising technical director for 12 years) BUT there are no easy ways in here ~ except by applying for for a job and internship directly ~ and right now there are a handful of summer internships 2017, listed for ~ archives, animation, art, story, systems, software research and development, production, marketing, publicity, editorial, technical director internships… Deadline February 5th!!!!
6. Telluride Film Festival Student Symposium / Deadline March 27th!
7. FOX ~ TV, film, sports (as in 20th Century Fox) / current films like Hidden Figures as well as “classics” like The Sound of Music, Die Hard, Star Wars, Episode IV, The Devil Wears Prada, Gone Girl, Paper Towns)
8. another avenue is the role of “volunteer” ~ so you are able to do that at many festivals, including Telluride, but also Sundance, San Francisco International Film festival and film society, etc… 
9. The Creative Mind Group ~ apply for internships at Cannes, Toronto, Sundance, Berlin, Hollywood.
10. LucasFilm internships in SanFrancisco and Singapore

11. on food and hospitality / check out, again, INDEED for internships that range from Fitbit (research and development intern) to IDEO or The Culinary Edge (culinary intern), and Gentler (hospitality interiors intern)..

12. on art / SFMOMA, Collezione Peggy Guggenheim in Venice, Italy; MOMA, NYC; de Young/Legion of Honor, SF, education; YBCA in San Francisco…and The Cloisters and Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC.


“I’ve come to believe that each of us has a personal calling that’s as unique as a fingerprint –
and that the best way to succeed is to discover what you love
and then find a way to offer it to others in the form of service, working hard, and also allowing the energy of the universe to lead you.” ~ oprah winfrey



above / different combinations of mentors, inspirations, generations in fashion (royal with jake wall and nathan johnson at her first showing of her clothing line at Girl’s Festival, Fort Mason); me recently in NYC with my mentor Stefan Stux who hired me when I was 21 years old, and worked at Stux gallery in Soho; Royal with Ayesha Curry (at Mina Test Kitchen) who was really inspiring to her because of her style (!!) and how she can be a wife and mom and have her own food show and kids line, etc…; August with Angelo Garro, an inspiration of mine to start the salon gatherings but also I “shadowed” him for years as a guest at many of his dinners at The Forge; a bunch of my cooking mentors in my atelier for one of my salon dinners that was covered by SF Chronicle ~ here with Adam Sobel, Alexandra Foote, Shelley Lindgren, Cal Peternell and Daniel Patterson; at the same dinner with my film mentor B. Ruby Rich and SFIFF director Noah Cowan.


“Every great dream begins with a dreamer.
Always remember, you have within you the strength,
the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.”
~ Harriet Tubman

* end note: I started writing this just after the Women’s March piece (because I think people are trying to figure out what to do not only in our society but also in their personal lives, how they can make a difference) and finished last night in the midst of the immigration ban chaos  ~ and I do believe that the direction in the creative fields above ~ which might not be in the direction of making tons of money or helping save people’s lives directly ~ can in fact, directed in certain ways ~ do just that ~ many start-ups make money and films are healing. Fashion is ultimately about how we feel in our bodies and can give us confidence. I (and many other independent designers) have made hundreds of women (and men) feel beautiful in their bodies. Food is about the power of gathering and meeting face to face; it’s also about telling stories, opening people’s minds and hearts (think Moonlight, Hidden Figures, Lion, even LaLa Land, 20th Century Women, Tower, Fences ~ to name a few of the provocative films I’ve seen the past 2 months); and art in general both as an object but also as an experience, performance, context, is about giving viewers different ways of seeing the world. We all need this right now, more than ever… onward we go ~~~~

1 Comment

  • Reply February 1, 2018

    Kate Bystrowski

    Cari…what a wonderful wealth of information, thoughts, quotes and sharing! Thank you so much for who you are and giving to the world!

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