If you’re interested in studying Fashion in college, choosing to focus your studies on fashion business is a great opportunity to not only be creative and learn the technical side of fashion and design but to learn how the craft translates into a trade. When selecting my major and focus, I chose to major in Retail Management with a concentration in Apparel Design and Technology. Fortunately, my school offered this as an option so I was able to learn both the design and business aspects of the field simultaneously. With my course load involving both business-oriented courses as well as technical classes, I was able to learn new skills and concepts that would prepare me for an array of career options after graduation.
As I mentioned in my first blog, Why I Chose to Major in Fashion, I had the opportunity to study at a fashion school for a year and earn an associate degree within my four-year bachelor’s program. At the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), I majored in Fashion Business Management, which provided even more in-depth insight into the business of fashion while studying in the fashion capital of New York City. This program complemented my studies and introduced me to the various careers within the industry. Here’s what I learned about the business side of studying fashion during my time in New York.
Networking is key
Being from a small town, there weren’t many fashion businesses or resources available to connect me to the industry. One often overlooked benefit of being a college student is the networking component that comes with it. Various career fairs, professors who have experience in the industry, and school programs that offer guidance in building relationships with businesses are all huge perks that every student should look for in a school and take advantage of—no matter what your major is. In order to score my first internship as a sophomore in college, I attended my school’s career fair and also attended the National Retail Federation Big Show and Career Fair in New York City— an amazing platform for those interested in the retail industry. I connected with Lids Sports Group through both of these career fairs and met with their recruiter to land the internship position.
Related: How to Start Networking: Top Tips and Tricks
Connecting with experts is crucial
While attending FIT, I was able to learn from professors who are veterans in the industry and who showed me firsthand what it’s like to work in fashion. I got connected with Foot Locker after attending another career fair, and although this internship was canceled because of COVID-19, I was able to create a relationship with the company, which will only lead to more opportunities in the future. I had a total of three internships while I was in New York, and with each one, I was sure to utilize LinkedIn to foster lasting connections with my employers and those I worked with along the way. Seeking relationships and utilizing them is key to creating more opportunities for yourself that you may be unable to create just on your own. Connecting with professors and reaching out to those within the industry are simple tasks you can do to fast-track your way to your dream job in fashion.
Interning in the industry is essential
It’s clear that internships are your best chance to learn and work in the career field you’re interested in before you graduate and have to make official career decisions. Be willing to take on internships with companies that you’ve never heard of before, and apply to programs even if you don’t think you’re good enough for them—you likely are! Each of the internships I held were the result of pushing myself no matter the competition or my doubts. I applied to my first internship with Lids Sports Group as a Retail Operations Intern despite only being a sophomore—the position description said I had to be at least a junior. But I scored the internship anyway, and I learned even more than I expected going into it. With each experience, the more I added to my résumé and the more I got to prepare for future opportunities.
Internships also help build your skillset and make you a more well-rounded candidate for jobs in the future. It’s important to diversify your experiences by seeking internships in various areas within the industry to see what you like and broaden your knowledge. I’ve interned within operations, design, production, and merchandising, which has given me more insight and skills that set me apart from other candidates for future jobs. Despite internships often being unpaid positions, they’re extremely valuable to your development and should be treated as any other job. Be professional and build strong relationships with your employers. These companies and connections will serve as references in the future when you begin your career. Many internships can even lead to full-time positions within a company, so give each opportunity your best and ask questions often to show your interest.
Related: 5 Strategies to Turn Your Internship Into Your First Job
Getting the most out of your experiences
While in college, seeking out new experiences and getting the most out of them should be one of your main focuses. With each internship, part-time job, and course, you should pay attention, take notes, and learn new skills that you can carry with you throughout your college and professional career. Ask questions and learn beyond the limits of your field. The fashion industry is highly competitive, but there are so many companies and opportunities out there for you if you make the effort to find them. Be diligent in mastering your craft and pushing your own boundaries. This industry is always changing, so stay updated and continue to educate yourself throughout your college career to unlock endless opportunities.
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