Like most of you reading this, I love fashion. I love picking out my outfits, shopping with friends, reading fashion publications, and curating unique pieces for my closet. Yet I don’t go to FIT, and I’m a horrible seamstress. I’m not studying fashion, even though I’d like to pursue some sort of career in the fashion industry. In a world where it seems like experience and internships are everything to employers, this may be troubling. How am I supposed to get fashion career experience that looks good on my resume?
There are plenty of options available to you on campus, around town, or even remotely. Some are individual, and some are group projects. A few are paid opportunities and a few are more for the experience. Some even give you an excuse to go shopping. Whatever your preference, there’s a fashion career experience that will suit you perfectly.
1. Join a Fashion Club or Publication on Campus
One of the most convenient fashion experiences as a student is getting involved with a fashion club or publication on campus. It’s on campus, it allows you to collaborate with other students, and you’re able to network. You’re also able to take leadership roles within the club or publication, which would allow you to practice your skills and impress a potential employer.
Tulasi Sundaresh, a student at Boston University, recently became an art director at Off the Cuff. It’s a campus publication that aims to bring art and fashion together. Through the magazine, Sundaresh has met and collaborated with student photographers, fashion writers, and stylists. “I love working with like-minded and stylish people,” she said of the magazine team.
What she anticipates most is the magazine’s release day. After designing content and editing shoots for weeks she said, “it’s so rewarding to see the work all come together in a physical copy.” The only thing she finds more satisfying is being able to bring that physical copy into her next interview.
2. Get a Retail Job
Retail jobs aren’t just good for staff discounts, they look great on resumes, too. They demonstrate that you have general work experience and some sort of grasp on the fashion world. Many large fashion companies actually prefer that their interns have worked some sort of retail job prior to applying.
In fact, Aritzia requires all of its employees (corporate included) to have worked on the sales floor at least once to gain general knowledge about styling and the store’s products. According to Erin Barclay, who manages the Prudential Center store, “one of the best skills you can take away from retail is the detail.” Attention to detail is key when working in fashion, whether you’re in a busy retail store or Vogue’s office during NYFW.
If that’s not experience enough for you, try reaching out. Lots of retail companies offer internships or outside experience if you ask.
3. Collab with Brands on Social Media
Brands love collaborating with young, fashionable women, and you should start loving collaborating with brands. In certain cases, you can score profile exposure, product, and even payment. Sometimes you’re invited to runway shows or other events. Best yet, you’re can place these experiences on your resume. This shows an employer that you’re capable of influencing an audience and creating brand content.
You can attract these brands to your social page by posting cohesive photos and original content. It also helps to tag brands in your photo and use hashtags that interest similar accounts to yours.
Cierra Nia, a fashion influencer studying at Boston University, says she attracts brands by posting authentic content and posting consistently. “It’s important that you stay true to yourself and interact with your followers,” she adds. “Brands want to see that you already have a following that you can influence.”
Nia, who boasts a following of 21.3K followers on Instagram, says she still uses her friends for help when it comes to getting brands to notice her. “I have my friends tag the brand in the comments or even repost the content on their stories,” she said. “It gets the brand’s attention and they see that so many people support you. Real, not forced, engagement is important.”
She keeps her email address in her Instagram bio to give brands easy access. Nia also claims this keeps matters more professional when collaborating. “It means a lot more when a brand takes time to email you rather than copy and paste a message in your comment section.”
As for any advice she might give to someone starting to collaborate with brands on social media, Nia suggests DMing brands you’re interested in working with. “It never hurts to ask, and you never know where it might take you,” she said.
4. Start a Blog/Vlog
If you prefer working on your own, you might consider starting a fashion blog or YouTube channel. Both options are great if you like styling or writing about fashion. These can then serve as a portfolio you’re able to show future employers.
More than ever, hiring managers are looking for details in resumes that distinguish you from other candidates. A blog adds context to your resume or cover letter by showing how you apply your fashion skills and knowledge. It also shows to your employer that you’re a go-getter, a leader, and willing to put the work in to get a great end result.
Blogging and vlogging allow for you to make a name for yourself before even beginning your career in fashion. Your digital footprint shows recruiters that you’re internet and social media savvy, while also letting them get to know you and your skills before any type of interview.
Both blogging and vlogging also let you get a taste of what a career in fashion might be like. It’s one of the top fashion career experiences because it can totally turn into a career if managed correctly!
5. Apply to College Fashionista
If you’re reading this, you’ve probably heard of College Fashionista. Luckily for you, so have lots of employers. A fun, remote option, CF provides you with pretty much all of the things on this list: a community of fashionable peers, opportunities to collab with brands, a chance to write articles about fashion and related topics, and so much more. It’s the ultimate fashion career experience, and I highly recommend becoming a member of the community if you haven’t already!
Have you tried out any of these fashion career experiences? Do you want to? Let us know in the comments below!
Opening image by community member Chloe Felopulos