"Did you study Polka Dots 101?" That was one of the not so clever jokes I would get when people would find out I studied fashion in college. That's one of the many reasons I started this blog. I'm not sure when studying fashion became such a joke, it's a billion dollar industry. Most of my career has stayed within fashion but that's not my only interest so I have tried to branch out in my career.
Recently, while applying for jobs in social media some of these questions are coming up again even though I have worked with non-fashion clients, furthered my education at NYU, and have written about non-fashion related topics. However, I also feel that fashion is one of the most innovative fields and they were one of the first to jump on to the social media bandwagon. So I wonder...
How is a Bachelor's Degree in fashion any less of a degree?It challenges you to be creative. They say everything has been done in fashion already so it's a constant challenge to create something new and buzz worthy. It goes hand in hand with technology. Fashion companies have been instrumental in leading the way for tech companies: Pose.com, Instagram, Tumblr and Pinterest would not be the major companies they are without fashion.
You constantly need to be observing trends. In the tech space there are new fads every week. Someone with a degree in fashion has to know what fads are going to stick and which ones are going to fade away quickly. You also need to be constantly aware of cultural shifts and predict what the consumer is going to want. Fashion companies work months if not years ahead of when a consumer will be purchasing, so having a keen eye and observation is a must. Those skills definitely apply to social media marketing.
You need to be disciplined. Fashion is not all polka dots and rainbows. It is a seriously fast-paced business that many of your internships teach you to be a disciplined worker working late hours and weekends.
You need to be able to multi-task. No matter what part of the fashion industry you work in, you will pretty much always be working on multiple projects at a time. In the magazine industry, you could be finalizing the layout for the fall issue while researching article topics for the spring issue. In design, you could be finalizing the runway looks of your fall show while scouting fabrics and inspiration for your spring collection.
You need to be able to think quickly on your feet. Life is unpredictable and so is the fashion world. Issues come up and you need to be ready. You can imagine 20 different scenarios and the one you don't imagine will happen - every time. You need to be able to think calmly and find a solution quickly. It is an important skill to have in any industry.
Having a degree shows I have passions. I set a path for myself career wise and I went after it. Most people in broader degrees probably didn't know what they wanted to do. I knew what I wanted to do since I was fairly young - a fashion editor. I was always writing. Got involved in my school's newspaper, joined clubs, did an internship at Conde Nast Publications and graduated Magna Cum Laude. I did everything you're supposed to do; however, life can sometimes get in the way. Graduating in 2009, it was one of the worst job markets in history and as a new graduate that did not make things easy. Things were out of my control but I'm grateful because I found my new passion - social media!
Dreams can change. I have other passions. However, social media wasn't taught when I went to school and wasn't even invented until I was already enrolled in college. So how am I supposed to have a degree in it? Companies need to realize that not many people stay within their degrees especially after the financial collapse of 2009. Many people in fashion came from different backgrounds: lawyers, architects, etc. I don't see why the same can't be true for other career paths. I write this post for not only myself but for those other former fashion students applying for jobs. Look at their skills and know that a Bachelor's degree from any institution teaches discipline, hard work, and basic business etiquette. But a fashion degree also includes the skills mentioned above. I would hire lots of people from the fashion industry. They are most hard working, creative people I know!
Do you have a degree that is a little outside of the box? Do you find potential employers assume you are not qualified because of it?
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