Since the beginning, the fashion industry has been dotted with pairs of mentors and mentees—Christian Dior severed as a mentor to Yves Saint Laurent, Vera Wang worked under Ralph Lauren in her early days, and Tory Burch cites Anna Wintour as her mentor. The benefits of having someone to guide you and confide in during your first years in the industry are essential, but that doesn’t mean you have to be one of the biggest names in fashion history to have a mentor. Look around! There are so many people who could be a great mentor to you, whether they’re a professor, a peer, an Instagrammer you adore, or a family friend you’ve seemingly known forever. Six of our own College Fashionista community members share advice on how they found the perfect mentor and the impact it’s had on their lives.
“It doesn’t hurt to ask someone to be your mentor.”
“I was an intern at an insurance company last summer and all the department heads came in to meet us. The CFO had such great advice for us and had such interesting things to say about his work. So, I shot him an email the next day saying I appreciated him taking the time to speak with us and that I wanted to sit down and talk to him a little bit more about some of the points he touched on. He was quick to accept and we met later that week for what was supposed to be 20 minutes but we talked for almost two hours. When my internship ended, I gave him a thank you note. We stayed in touch last semester while I was abroad because he was helping me with job applications and now that I’m working on interviews, we’ve made plans to meet up so he could help me out. It doesn’t hurt to ask someone to be your mentor. Here I was, a brand new intern asking the CFO of a major company to have a meeting with me. I was terrified but it definitely paid off.” — Kenia Viezcas, Miami University of Ohio class of 2018
“Look around at your life and see who is already supporting you.”
“I met my mentors through show choir in high school. One of them was my director and one is his wife and throughout the year, I grew close to them and leaned to them for advice. They’re like parental figures to me.I keep in constant contact with them but if we don’t see each other or even speak for a long time we’re able to pick up right where we left off. My mentors have helped me with many decisions like choosing a college and have led me down the right path with relationships. It’s great because I have someone outside my family and friends to lean to for advice, and I know I can get a completely unbiased opinion and outlook on any situation. My advice on finding a mentor would be to look around at your life and see who is already supporting you. Then approach them asking to support you and engage with your goals as a mentor for particular avenues of your life.” — Nicole Buttrick, University of Central Florida class of 2021
“Don’t let fear stop you from reaching out to someone you look up to.”
“I found my mentor through social media, and I loved what she was doing. I contacted her via email, met with her for coffee, and the rest is history. I simply reached out and asked if she would be willing to meet with me and give me some advice. After that, the relationship formed on its own because we had great chemistry. To keep our relationship strong, I make sure to meet with her either in person or online frequently. We also get along really well, which I think is a huge part of a successful mentor and mentee relationship. To me, mentorship means having someone around who is willing to guide you and give advice. They don’t necessarily open doors for you, but they fill you in on how they managed to find the open doors for themselves. When asking someone to mentor you, don’t expect them to automatically give you the keys or secrets to success. Success still takes hard work from you; a mentor is simply a guide. Another piece of advice I have is don’t let fear stop you from reaching out to someone you look up to! Send that email or that DM. The worst that could happen is that they don’t respond or that they don’t have time right now. In most cases, they’ll be happy that they’ve inspired someone else, and they’ll be flattered that you asked.” — Maya Fleming, Georgetown University class of 2019
“Don’t be afraid to reach out to your professors! I know they can seem intimidating, but they want to help students.”
“I have two professors who naturally became my mentors through meeting with them and our classes together. With one, I went to her office hours to talk about getting a job versus going to grad school and ended up crying in her room because she was so sweet and real with me, it was an incredibly refreshing conversation for my junior year self. Honestly, having them as mentors is everything, I wouldn’t have done my thesis without their help and support. Now that I’m about to graduate, I keep in contact by updating them on my work and my life, always asking advice on everything from applications to interview prep and outfit consultation. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your professors! I know they can seem intimidating but they want to help students achieve what their hearts want. And if you catch someone at a bad time or don’t get the response you wanted, try to remember they have families and outer obligations outside of school. Try not to get discouraged and try someone else!” — Ruby Winborn, Loyola University Chicago class of 2018
“To me, a mentorship is like a professional friendship.”
“I had a professor in a large lecture class freshman year and I loved her teaching style, but I didn’t get to interact much with her. It wasn’t until last semester that I got to take a small honors class with her and we really connected. After completing my final paper for the class, my professor actually suggested that I present my research. From there we worked together on that project. I then reached out to her via email about mentoring me again for a scholarship opportunity. Now, we meet weekly to catch up and go over these two projects. It’s a great connection that I see lasting beyond my college years. To me, a mentorship is like a professional friendship. My mentor guides me professionally, but I’m still able to talk to her about other aspects of my life.” — Amelia Johnson, Kent State University class of 2020
“Having someone who believes in you and sees your potential not only motivates you to pursue your goals, but it also increases your confidence.”
“I met my mentor in my first year of university when we were on a volunteering camp. She’s two years older than me, but, as we grew closer, it became evident that our career and life goals were similar and that she had experienced things I was yet to. She began to guide me on how to reach my goals as she was previously in that position. I attest many of achievements and my confidence to pursue things thanks to her guidance. Having someone who believes in you and sees your potential not only motivates you to pursue your goals but it also increases your confidence because if someone believes you can do it, then you want to try and be the best possible version of yourself, for yourself and also for them. When I doubted I could do things such as going on two important overseas programs, she always supported me and put things into perspective when I had a loss of career or life direction. I am so thankful for her and it is crazy how alike we are. She always says I am the person she was two years ago and she sees a lot of herself through me while I see her as someone I aspire to be. Our relationship stemmed from a strong friendship and I think that is what enabled it to grow into a mentorship. Once I started realizing how similar we are in relation to personal values, professional goals, life directions and aspiration I then realized she was someone I saw as a mentor.” — Joanna Dang, University of Technology Sydney, Australia class of 2018
How did you find your mentor? Share with us in the comments below!
Featured photo by @kalynneelizabethsmith.