Anyone, ANYONE?? (Help me break into the fashion industry)
Rewind back to my Sophomore year of college. Sophomore Spring was approaching, which means it's time to declare a major. But what did I want to do with my life?! This is a huge decision, and I have many interests. I thought about a Nutrition or a Psychology major. Finally, with the help of the phenomenal business school career center, I chose to major in Business. This was also the Spring I decided to pursue a career in Fashion. Knowing very little, I had A LOT to learn. I am a go-getter, and nothing was going to stop me from landing the perfect first job. It's important to understand different career options within the industry.
LinkedIN became my best friend. I had numerous phone calls with fashion industry insiders in order to get a better sense of positions available. It was exhausting, but I persevered. I asked them pros and cons, what their week looks like, job responsibilities, what they wish they would've known when graduating college, etc. Through this process, I was able to pick up some of the language used in the fashion industry. Utilize as many connections as you can think of: Greek life, Athletes, Alumni from your college, etc. Don't be afraid to ask someone to speak, because you never know what they'll say. Also, if someone doesn't respond right away, don't assume the conversation won't happen. In college, it's hard to understand what the real world is like, and how busy it can get. This is especially because you already feel like you have limited free time during college. It's necessary to catch someone at the right time. Once the day begins, the emails start piling up. If you send an email, and don't get a response, send a quick follow up 2 weeks to a month later. This will put you back on their radar. They probably read the email, and thought "I need to respond to this", and then got busy & forgot or didn't see the email, etc. Many situations can come into play here, but know that persistence is needed (even if it goes against everything you've learned). Growing up in the South, persistence and following up is something I have to actively work on. I feel like I'm annoying or inconveniencing those I reach out to, when they are probably happy to speak about their career (remember: people LOVE to talk about themselves), but have been too busy to respond. Today's world is all about who you know. Most people you speak to will tell you throughout their career, each job was made possible because they knew someone at the company.
Lastly, intern, intern, INTERN. This is the safest way to try a variety of positions. It's challenging to know what you'll like until you're on the job. Even if every internship you have, you realize it's not for you, that was an important step in figuring out what you DO want to do. It also will give you a better background if you later work with someone in that part of the industry. Once you begin working, it's harder (but not impossible) to switch to a different career track within the industry. With internships you can try working at a magazine, then retailer, then with a showroom, etc. without getting pigeonholed into that position's track one you've started working. You're able to gain experience on multiple paths, which is a phenomenal opportunity. Good luck!!
Artwork: Fum Is Fashion Files