She Broke the Rules to Land an Internship

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Mark Twain once said, “Life is short. The  Break the rules.” Madeline Hill agrees.

When she was 16-years-old, all Madeline wanted was to land an internship. However, she was just a tad underage. What would have stopped many in their tracks instead lit a fire underneath this University of Georgia student.

Madeline did end up getting the internship. How? By telling her future boss that she was 23-years-old, seven years older than she actually was.

She figured the risk of her age embellishment would pay off. And for her, it did. Madeline says that this real-world experience at a young age has worked to her advantage.

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Image via Wilhelmina

Madeline’s story is a combination of risk taking, creativity, travel and joie de vivre. When she was just 14-years-old, she started working as a fashion model with stints in Japan. She says that her years modeling helped her develop a thick skin that was necessary to survive in the ‘Devil Wears Prada’ world of fashion.

With a goal of working in digital communications in New York City, Madeline is working hard to carve a path for herself. She’s a contributor to top outlets like Femsplain and Huffington Post and Fashionista.

We sat down with this digital nomad to learn more about what motivates her career-driven lifestyle, the lie she told to get an internship and the five women she’d love to share a meal with.

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Image via Wilhelmina

What’s unique about your story?

When I was 16, I lied to get my first internship. I told my future boss that I was 23 and it worked. Since then, I’m always thinking about new ways to get ahead and make connections. I think the fact that I started getting real-world experience so young has worked to my advantage. I’m not afraid to take risks, because I know that, at the end of the day, they will pay off in some way.

Half of me is my digital self, where I want to work doing digital marketing and brand partnerships, while the other half of me is obsessed with storytelling. I combine those two sides by writing freelance pieces for websites like The Huffington Post and Femsplain. I am also working on a book of short stories in my free time.

I think having diverse interests is what makes me unique. I don’t think that there is a “right” path in life. I always go with my gut and do what I love no matter what.

What’s something that not many people know about you that has defined who you are today?

I started working as a fashion model when I was 14. While I still model occasionally, it is certainly not my career path for the long-term. But, working as a model allowed me to understand how to be professional from a young age. I was forced to interact with adults who were much older than me, learned how to manage my expenses, and maintain a good reputation with clients.

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Image via Wilhelmina

Where do you find inspiration?

I have a really strong group of women who I am constantly reaching out to for advice. We even have a Facebook group, where we brag about our recent accomplishments and discuss areas where we need advice. I am constantly amazed by the things these women do and it pushes me to go beyond what’s expected of me.

I also spend a lot of time reading whatever I can get my hands on. Whether it’s a book of short stories by Leslie Jamison or an article in The New Yorker, I am a strong believer in soaking up a breadth of ideas. For me, this has been a great source of both creative and practical advice that I apply to my life every single day.

What’s been your favorite experience as a college student thus far?

Probably getting the opportunity to study abroad at Oxford University. While I love digital communications, I am a firm believer in a strong liberal arts education. Having the opportunity to push myself academically at one of the most prestigious universities in the world was one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had. I dove headfirst into classical texts and was pushed to effectively communicate my ideas in a coherent and concise manner. These are all skills that have helped me in the professional world immensely.


You get to invite 5 influential people to a dinner party. Who are they and why?

  1. Lena Dunham: I am amazed by her talent and honesty in her work. She doesn’t care what anyone thinks about her and has achieved immense success at such a young age.
  2. Joan Didion: One of the most well-known female authors in the world, Joan is a pioneer in the literary world. I’d love to pick her brain about her memoir, “The Year of Magical Thinking” over coffee, while reading The New York Times one day.
  3. Sheryl Sandberg: As someone who wants to pursue a career in digital, Sheryl not only is a great resource for those who want to go into that field, but especially for young women who are trying to take a stab at the glass ceiling.
  4. Jill Abramson: She’s the former executive editor of The New York Times: Recently, I listened to an episode of “Here’s The Thing,” which is a podcast hosted by Alec Baldwin and fell in love. She achieved so much success in journalism, despite many setbacks, she persevered.
  5. Beyonce: I mean, do I need to say anything more.

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