12/10/2015

My Fashion Career Journey So Far


Perhaps it is a little too soon to be writing about my career journey considering I'm still at university and yet take my first steps up the career ladders as a graduate. Nevertheless, I feel I have a lot to share about my internships and previous work experience in the fashion industry so far and this subject is something I get quizzed on quite a lot. So in this post, I'll be sharing my journey, my top tips and advice for anyone interested in a career in the business of fashion... PS - Grab a cuppa because this post is going to be pretty lengthy!

As many of you may already know, I study B.A. (Hons) Fashion Management at London College of Fashion. I've just finished my placement year (study abroad in New York and placement at Ralph Lauren) and have just returned to begin my final year of study. Fashion Management is very much a business course related to the fashion industry, exploring areas such as buying, merchandising, marketing and PR. London College of Fashion is a very competitive place to study and I was lucky enough to get a place on one of the most coveted fashion courses in the U.K. Prior to LCF,  I studied  A-Levels in Maths, Economics & Business and English Language as well as achieving a BTEC Subsidiary Diploma in Business. The course required 280 UCAs points as a minimum to be accepted.  I'm planning of doing a post around my university experience so let me know if you'd be interested in reading that!

Upon starting my degree and moving to London in 2012, I understood that for roles in fashion, it is so so important to have industry experience as well as a related degree. Practical on the job experience is key to gaining a better understanding of the fashion world, great for networking and making contacts, plus is the perfect way to figure out which area of the business you are most suited to and would like pursue a career in. Before I moved to London, I had no fashion-related work experience other than my blog. It is great to have a blog to show your extra interest in your career path and mine has helped me stand out from other applicants by showing a level of initiative and demonstrates a proactive nature.

Oasis: Sales Assistant 
Retail is a great place to start when it comes to jobs in fashion. I managed to get my first job in London after about 2 weeks of moving to the city. Although it is not for everyone, working on the shop floor and understanding more about the retail environment really helps with courses relating to fashion and puts things into perspective a little more. With flexible shifts and part-time hours available it is also a really good job to have alongside uni for a bit of extra money. I was really lucky to be part of an amazing team at Oasis and thoroughly enjoyed my experience with the company. For me, working in retail has played a huge part in developing my confidence and I've made so many friends along the way too! When applying for head office jobs, I would say retail experience is pretty vital as a lot of companies would dismiss your CV without it.
For part-time retail jobs check out FashionJobs.com and follow companies via LinkedIn, or as I found most effective, pop into a store with your CV and ask the manager if they have any positions available. First hand contact can often be the most effective method of communication.

Christian Dior Beauty: Retail Operations Intern
I was pretty shocked when I landed my first internship with one of the most coveted luxury brands in the industry, Dior. In my first year of university, I was able to balance 1-2 days a week interning at Dior alongside working in retail and studying. Although I was working with the beauty department rather than fashion, the concepts are very much the same - and who doesn't love being used as a model occasionally and having their make-up done by the beauty experts! Glamorousness aside, working with retail operations exposed me to a wide variety of roles within the business and my daily tasks included working on the internal Dior Magazine, general administration tasks and working on various charity and fundraising projects.

Karen Millen: Merchandising Distribution Analyst in International Franchise
After completing my first year at uni, I was really eager to use my summer wisely and try to gain more industry experience. From my interest in maths and business, I was keen to give merchandising a go and emailed HR at Karen Millen after seeing a position advertised online. Its important to make a good first impression at the interview stage by dressing well and appropriately, staying professional but also being likeable. I loved my time at Karen Millen and ended up working 6 weeks over the summer  and gained experience dealing with allocations, reports, communicating with store managers and range planning. I loved my team who I worked with and came back as a paid part-time temp during my second year at university.

NYLON Magazine - Buying & Merchandising Co-ordinator
I've already written a post more about my internship in New York, where you can read full details of my Day In The Life: NYLON Magazine Intern. I interned for four months whilst studying abroad in NYC last year and absolutely loved my experience at the magazine. I've always been interested in the publishing sector of the fashion industry so it was a bit of a dream come true for me to intern at one of my favourite magazines. I worked primarily with the NYLON Shop where I researched new brands to stock on the website, worked with product upload and description as well as doing styling for the NYLON social media. It was such a fun experience and I made loads of great industry contacts and got to attend some awesome events along the way! I don't think I would even have been considered for this position without previous related work experience and my background in blogging was a bonus too!

Polo Ralph Lauren - Menswear Allocator
As part of my placement year on my Fashion Management degree, I was required to complete a six month work placement following choosing to study abroad. My experience at Karen Millen swayed me towards the merchandising route for my placement. Although initially I wasn't convinced I would necessarily be a Ralph Lauren girl, I have to say I'm so glad I stayed open-minded when applying for placements as my experience at the company has really paid off. I started at the company in January of this year and worked full-time until July with the menswear team as an allocator. As the driving force of the business, I was really glad to be placed within the menswear department at Ralph and having a large responsibility within the team really motivated me. My daily tasks would include being responsible for allocations of denim, bottoms and outwear stock across the European stores as well as running various reports, conducting analysis and communicating with stores.
Although I loved my experience with Ralph Lauren, I didn't necessarily feel like I was working in fashion and the role was very much Microsoft Excel based. The role was good for me in terms of learning key skills like leadership and negotiation, however has made me rethink my graduate roles slightly in terms of what sector of fashion I'd like to pursue a career in.

I'm still considering options in buying, merchandising and ecommerce for a career when I've graduated next summer and I'm excited to see where the next chapter of my life will take me.
So that's about it regarding my career history so far. If you have any questions, feel free to tweet me @helloomonica and I'd be happy to help!

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