Breaking into industry
While we only support people a little further down in their career, the question we are most commonly asked by graduating students is how to get an actual job in fashion – and, while there’s no simple answer, we thought it would be helpful to create a short guide for those creative spirits looking to enter the fashion industry.
Creating a portfolio is the first step on the path to working in the world of fashion – and the key is to keep it current and concise. Someone doesn’t have hours to go through every page of your work, so think carefully about what best demonstrates your abilities, and make sure it is easily readable: your portfolio is there to tell the story of where you started with an idea, and communicate how you reached your final designs.
Presentation is of paramount importance: the first thing that someone will notice is how you’ve packaged your work. A portfolio should be clean and professional and, if you’re showing a physical version with swatches, it should be easy to transport. You should be able to talk through your work succinctly and cohesively, so enlist a friend for a few practice runs so that you can get used to presenting it in person.
Click here for a link to our Talent Atelier Portfolio Guide.
Specifically branded personal projects are a great way of showing your interest in a company, and demonstrating your ability to immerse yourself within a brand’s DNA is an invaluable quality. They are also also a way of expanding on your current selection of work, testing out different handwriting styles and showing your versatility as a designer.
The first thing to remember about interviews is that they aren’t an exam; they exist to give you and your potential employer the chance to see if you would be a good fit in terms of experience, role and culture. Your interviewer will almost certainly ask you a number of questions, so be prepared to talk about yourself, your work, your experience to date and your broader interests.
You’ll come across best when you are interested and engaged – so, before you go, make sure that you’ve researched both the company and the role fully. And ask questions! Whether they are about the company culture, the structure of the team or the role itself, don’t be afraid to speak up – and prepare some in advance in case your mind goes blank. At entry level, employers are looking for staff members who are curious and engaged, so if you can demonstrate that then you’re half way there.
An internship can be incredibly unnerving experience, and you can easily end up feeling a bit lost. Start by introducing yourself to everyone, which shows that you want to be there, are self-motivated and eager to learn. Then, volunteer for all the little jobs. They might seem slightly menial at the time, but will show that you are keen and willing; remember that you can pick up as much from being in these environments as you choose to and it’s all about how much you invest in the process.
A few key pieces of advice
Everyone gets things wrong, and you’re not expected to know everything.
If you can’t do something, then ask. There is nothing worse than seeing someone staring blankly at a sheet of paper and not taking the initiative to ask for help.
You’re there to learn, so try and get the most out of the experience as possible. I promise that it will set you in good stead for the future – both in terms of the skills that you will pick up, and the relationships that you will build.
If you’re not in a position to do an internship, then it’s a good idea to try and gain some experience working for a brand that you like in-store. This will allow you to get a foot in the door, be around the product, customer and get a handle on the inner workings of the business. It also shows dedication to the brand, and you will pick up a nuanced understanding of the consumer side of the industry.
Our final tip: don’t panic!
It might be easier said than done – leaving university can often feel daunting and overwhelming – but if you are prepared and willing to work for it, then a job in the industry you would like to work in will come along. Remember, everyone has to start somewhere!