So before I even get started I am going to be completely honest, I am not the ideal perception of a success story, considering the fact that at this very moment I am jobless as well as homeless, sharing a hostel room with a bunch of middle-aged foreigners half way around the world. It may even sound like I am a good example of a failure even – however, I am continuing the long and sometimes tedious track followed by many thousands of interns in the hope of making it into the elite world of fashion magazines.
In recent years fashion has suddenly become fashionable, I know fashion has always existed but it has only been up until recently that a hobby only people of wealth could appreciate has slowly trickled down into the lives of the normal everyday working class society. It seems now every second post on social media is someone’s styling work or #OOTD photo, thousands of girls (and some boys) flood fashion pages asking for where they should start and where to study. This is where I come in, not only to make you extremely excited at the fact these days you don’t really need any form of certified qualification to succeed in the world of fashion but also to then bring you crashing back down to reality due to the thought that working long hour days doing tedious jobs in return for no income whatsoever is the norm for at least a year when getting started.
To study, or not to study?
In my honest opinion, what you study as well as where you study is totally up to where you eventually see yourself working. I dropped out of school in my final senior year to enrol in a fashion business college. I ended up choosing The Fashion Institute based in Surry Hills, purely based on the facts that it was the cheapest at the time, Sarah Stavrow (the college director) had been through the business before therefore had an understanding and also the one year course appealed to the impatient side of me who couldn’t commit to anything longer.
Would I encourage others to follow in my footsteps? Well, let’s cut to the chase, if you grew up following fashion and feel you know enough about the industry to be able to secure an internship in the area in which you want to succeed, try that first. Fashion business college is a good place to be in order to grasp the full workings of the fashion industry, you must understand that in order to be good at one job in fashion you must be understanding of how every other job works, it is also handy to know the ins and outs as you may often find yourself using these other career paths as an alternative way into your dream job.
Interning above EVERYTHING!
The reason in which I don’t recommend studying fashion as a subject is due to the fact that it’s not your degree or marks within education that get you a job, but how you perform at an internship. This being said, you are usually stepping into an editorial office therefore you should have quite an advanced understanding of grammar, spelling and basic administration etiquette.
What I found quite strange with interning was that here I was with a college course, that at the time actually gave me no particular degree or certification, working in a fashion cupboard with girls doing law and journalism degrees. Although they were paying a lot more on tuition fees and spending many more years on their study, in the end it came down to our commitment to the role within our internship positon that determined our success.
Do it Yourself.
All colleges and universities offer careers advising, these are great due to the fact that agencies may contact them personally with exclusive work offers which may be forwarded to you. My advisor offered me a few great roles but I found my most rewarding positions were the ones I found myself. If you want to have a flexible internship that allows you to explore all areas of the industry whilst learning the ropes of your dream job, freelancers are the people to assist. Research your area of interest and find out the people working within in it, these people are constantly working and may not have the time to hunt down an intern or they may not even know people are out there willing to assist them for free!
I sent numerous emails to many different stylists and directors before I even left school, most whom I didn’t hear back from, but within a couple of months, without any form of training or understanding of the fashion world I found myself in a studio working as a freelance stylist’s assistant.
In college, we were also told networking was the way to go – don’t go into internships thinking you are the Queen of Sass and viewing everyone and everything as your competition in the fashion game. Make relationships with not only the people working within the office but also with your fellow interns, whilst interning at one of Australia’s largest fashion publications I found the interns who were willing to go the extra mile in order to make a friendly work relation were the ones who were often selected to assist on out of office jobs as well as being put forward to full time positions within any fashion publication the office knew about. It is through these bonds I made at this internship that found me my first assisting job in London.
What I found whilst studying and making a way for myself, was that no doesn’t always necessarily mean no. I am a bit of networking psycho – upon first starting I was given news that a popular magazine which I dreamt of interning at was interviewing potential people for work experience, I unfortunately had prior commitments and my careers advisor had been instructed that they were very restricted with time and I would just have to wait until their next intake. As I previously noted, I am not a patient person, Google came to my rescue and within a day I had personally contacted the magazine, found out who was in charge of interviews and had one booked for the next week. After all that, I didn’t even get it – but there’s nothing like a dose of reality to remind you that you still have a long way to go.
However, that story wasn’t to make you question further my definition of success but to prove that sometimes if you want something done right, don’t be afraid to take the reins and contact these people yourself.
No. The industry isn’t actually that small.
You’ll hear a lot within the Australian fashion industry about the struggles as the business is so small. Yes, Australia’s industry is small, but every industry in Australia is relatively small. Don’t feel that you have to aim your goals within your own country, every continent has its own industries of fashion, all of which run exactly the same (apart from the obvious language barriers). With the right contacts it easy to continue your career into unknown lands.
As I was writing this I attended a meeting with editors from a leading international fashion and arts magazine based in the United Kingdom for a potential internship, I was asked to commence straight away as they currently had only a couple of interns, and what did they think about my lack of any credible degree? They preferred it, as it would hopefully mean I would be more flexible in the days in which I was available. And in a cruel twist of fate and irony, I also have a paid assistant job coming up within London, on a shoot for the Australian magazine that turned me down as an intern less than a year ago… *smirk face*
So anyway, what I am trying to get at is that the fashion industry is a very hard business in which to achieve ultimate success, it is a career path of ladders, no matter what position you find yourself in there is always another higher up to aim for, but that doesn’t mean you can’t feel successful whilst you go. This list could have honestly gone on for at least another one thousand words, and could’ve included everything to the hierarchy of an editorial office to what personal attributes earn you extra bonus points when applying for an internship, but I will let you have some fun in working these ones out as you go. I hope this will be able to help in there exploration of fashion as a future for them and have them understand that although it may not require a degree like many other options, it still requires just as much work and time to just get yourself in it – but it will be worth it… hopefully.