So You Want to Work in Fashion?
"I'm 17 and looking for work in the fashion industry. How would you suggest I start my career? I'm concerned about not having anything to put on my CV when applying for internships and unsure how to get in contact with the right people from the industry."
The first thing I would suggest is becoming very clear on what you want to do within the fashion industry! Don’t overthink or feel as though this has to be a fixed decision - you simply need somewhere to start. Grab a pen and paper. On one side, write about what has attracted you to work in fashion and on the other side, write down what you feel your skills are.
It’s tempting to do the crazy thing that we all do and say “I don’t have any skills”. I too felt the same way at one point. But skills come in various forms and sometimes the things that come easiest to you are your magic! A few examples would be: public speaking, research, being good with numbers, problem-solving and so on. Does that feel a little less nerve-wracking now? Good!
With this information, marry your interests with your skills and make a list of all the areas you could possibly embark on your fashion journey. Most people tend to go for the mainstream roles: Buying, PR, Marketing, Merchandising etc. But the possibilities in fashion, especially in 2018, are endless and you could look into more specialised roles such as media planning, customer insights or influencer marketing.
Now you should have a list of possible roles you’d like to take on. Are you ready to actually go out and secure an internship? You will be once your CV has been updated.
At 17, an employer won’t expect you to have masses of experience on your CV if any at all! What they will look for is how you’re demonstrating a desired skill set. You may not have industry experience but life is an experience within itself and that’s all you need at the moment. Use college projects or extracurricular activities to highlight the things they’ll be looking for.
A top tip would be to first read what skills the job description requires and secondly, find ways to convey a similar skill set through your previous experience. For example, if were selected to present your work at an exhibition or show, this would be a great way to highlight what you’d bring to the business. Yet, instead of simply stating what you did, focus on what was achieved.
Also, mentioning positions such as ‘Course Representative’ or ‘Head of Student Relations’ shows leadership and initiative. In terms of hobbies, try to keep these to a minimum as they may not be of interest to your potential employer. Yet, if they’re relevant, provide some detail.
FINDING THE RIGHT PEOPLE
As you’re a newbie in fashion, consider alternative ways to approach your potential employer, as your emails may get lost in the sea of other online applications. Others success stories involved posting CV and cover letters, designing a creative CV to match the branding of the company or even meeting the employers in person and putting themselves forward in that way.
It’s also a good idea to look at your own personal network and determine who could connect you to the right people.
FIGURE OUT WHAT YOU DON'T LIKE
Your first internship will definitely be a steep learning curve! You’ll learn a lot about the industry and about yourself. One such thing may be that you don’t actually enjoy what you initially set out to do. Is that fine? Yes. Does it happen to a lot of people? Absolutely.
A key part of finding your ‘forever’ requires finding your “hell no!”
Good luck and enjoy the journey.