May 22, 2012

Why You Should Take My Fashion Degree Seriously


"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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47 comments:

  1. "Did you study Polka Dots 101?" - Ha! I love that line. I minored in Fashion. The Parentals wouldn't let me major in it. That or Acting. Le sigh!

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  2. I have 2 degrees both Bachelor of Science - one in Textiles and one in Textile and Apparel Management. I'm a textile designer. No one understands what I do. Mostly people think I sit around and draw pictures all day, that is a small part of it but I'm a wovens designer so my life revolves around numbers and math. I do so much math, I like to point out that the concept of a computer partially came from a jacquard loom, the very looms I do most of my work with. I got the polka dots 101 comment too, so don't feel bad. And when someone just won't let my career/degrees go I just tell them that I know how to do laundry really well. Duh.

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    1. I have such respect for textile people... that so was not forte in school. I was always the writer/creative ideas type.

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  3. I've always admired your passion. I'm boring. Studied economics and local policy, and work in the Economic Development Division of a city! oh well, pays the bills... keep pushing, you'll find something!

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  4. I wouldn't say my degree was necessarily out of the box but not all that related to what I do now. I got a BS in Pre-Law in 2003 and then an AS in Paralegal studies in 2008. I landed my first job in my field, absolutely hated it, and then the economy tanked.

    I'm really glad you stuck to your passion and became educated in it. My real true passion was writing but at the time I felt like I needed a more "traditional" type of career.

    Now the way the market is, there's no such thing as a traditonal career or education skill set anymore. You have to get super creative with the skillset you have and carve you own path.

    You hang in there, self yourself, get creative with what you can do and the right opportunity will come your way!

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    1. Well seems like you picked a good option :) Journalism majors are nothing nowadays. I'm definitely working on creating my own path, it's been a very interesting path to say the least. Thanks for the advice :)

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  5. Appreciate this...I've gotten so much stick for my degree and wish that maybe a bit more support (especially as I quit a 6 year career and even moved countries to do this) would be given.

    Kate

    www.thrillofthechaise.com

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    1. Oh wow... that's a major step and employers should definitely see that as a serious commitment!

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  6. Yeah people don't understand the actual blood, sweat and tears that go into this. Literally sleeping on pins and needle while getting projects done. Patternmaking, computer patternmaking, markers? -- Lot's of math and technical skills needed. Illustration and technical design via Adobe creative suites --- hello graphic design skills. It isn't just about a love for clothes and shopping which most people equate it to. I know in my school lots of people were weeded out or dropped out because they couldn't keep up with the work load. I graduated at the end of 08 so I understand the frustrations that came with the tanking economy. Sometimes I question my choice however the skills I learned are invaluable. You're right that our skill sets can be an asset in so many other fields. Press on! - Samar

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    1. For sure. Thanks for your wise words and the great reminder :)

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  7. Wow. I commend you. Having a college degree is a great accomplishment and don't let anyone make you feel otherwise. I actually have the opposite problem though. I have a technical degree and I am not taken seriously in the fashion industry. Go figure.

    But seriously. The economy is terrible, so employers are practicing their right to be choosy. You just have to find the employer that appreciates the skills you bring to the table. After 5 or 6 years in the professional world, it's really all about your resume. Try to get some hands experience in your field of interest. It will go a long way.

    Congrats on links a la mode!

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    1. Aw thank you :)

      Yes, employers are definitely being greedy and taking people who are overqualified. Thanks for the tips!

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  8. I received my JD (law degree) this month but I blog concerning fashion law ;)

    Hope you visit me, xoxo <3
    A Preponderance of Fashion

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    1. I know so many lawyers/finance women who went to fashion hehe great idea!

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  9. I have a degree in Behavioural Science (BA in Psychology, basically) and I find people assume I have more training than I actually do! I reckon my friends that did "artsy" degrees - fashion, fine arts, graphic design etc. - actually have far more practical & job-relevant experience than I do. I'd actually love to go back & study Fashion or Photography this time.

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    1. Oh interesting. Thanks for sharing :) I always wanted to do photography as well... would help with my blogging too hehe

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  10. i honestly feel anyone who slights any degree is a dumb narrow minded moron...i have heard such stupid shit when i left science and shifted to studying arts..i have grown immune to it..but then again it hits from certain people..

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  11. Just randomly came across your blog and found this post! Couldn't agree more. I studied Apparel Merchandising and have no regrets. I think I learned way more than people assume!

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  12. I'm planning on pursuing a fashion degree in college. And this article really helped me out. Thank you so much for sharing. :D

    10% off discount code to Vantage Point Vintage

    :)
    Carrie
    http://readmylifeascarrie.blogspot.com/

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    1. Aw I'm glad! Best of luck with you college career!

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  13. I totally agree with you, fashion is one of the ones that are constantly changing and you have to be observant to be ahead of the trend and almost predict what will happen. Good luck hun!

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  14. Fashion is not all polka dots and rainbows. <--- great line.

    The facade of beauty has the backbone of hard gritty work. Your skills show that you know how to make things look effortless and effective. I wish you much success in the fashion field and without.

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  15. WOW! I commend you for all of your hard work! Don't let anyone make you feel bad. You work just as hard, if not harder than they do!

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    1. Aw thank you :) I don't... just think it's ridiculous!

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  16. I would have loved to study Fashion! I did take a few classes in college, but rather went in the route of Finance. I wish I would have lived my dream out and done something artsy, so I'm proud of you that you are doing one of your dreams. I'm pretty sure Auditing wasn't my dream. LOL! Apparently God's plan though. =) xoxo A-

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  17. earning a degree shows dedication, passion, and more. no matter what the discipline is! you've got really good points!

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  18. I feel the exact same way about my Psychology degree. How is studying human behavior, interactions, what makes people do what a joke? I feel like it should be really versatile. In business don't people want to know WHY people want to or don't want to buy something? Or how to make people work together more productively? In advertising wouldn't it be good to know what would appeal to people and why? But, apparently I am qualified to do nothing. Awesome. Grad school here I come. Sorry got off on my own tangent lol but it is so frustrating! I feel your pain.

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    1. It's a great degree! Advertising definitely requires a lot of consumer behavior knowledge. haha aww it's okay, I had my own tangent :p

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  19. People who discredit your degree are just close-minded. I have people ask "Well, what can you do with that?" or "So you are going to be a teacher?", when I tell them I have a Bachelors in English. I haven't decided how I'm going to use my degree or if I'm going to continue with school, but I've already been offered jobs, so I just laugh at the close-minded people! Sucks to be them ;)

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    1. Definitely. Unfortunately there are a lot of close minded folks hiring people out there.

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  20. People are insane. No potential employer can argue with this or your determination to pursue another career you are passionate about!

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  21. The reason it's less of a degree, is because it is the study of something that does nothing to further humanity, unlike most Science, Maths and Humanities degrees. THAT'S WHY.

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    1. I'm currently studying fashion (degree) focus on couture and tailoring to Savile Row standard. It is really some of the things mentioned above, hard graft! (Despite the pre-conceived nature of "polka dots and rainbows". ) the slog I don't think stops there. Loopholes there are, but trying to get a foot in will usually mean being exploited for your energy ideas and desperation for a break all for the worthy price of absolutely nothing. You my aswell give them a blood sample while you're at it. unfortunately i'm starting to think its not that I don't respect the skill and admire those who do and will continue to keep it alive. The industry just seems all too blood sucking of energy and the balance isn't right in terms of what you get back in pay and a decent lifestyle, and this is where I ironically enough have to agree with this guy. Deep down I don't know what I'd get from my own success in an essentially commercially wrapped up industry encouraging more and more conspicuous consumption...hmmmm...?

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  22. i really want to pursue a degree in fashion. my major is nursing but my true passion is FASHION! i would love to have my own shoe line, but i need money as soon as possible so thats why i figured nursing would be a field for stability. WHAT TO DO?

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  23. I just graduated from high school and I've been thinking about what to study. I always thought I wanted to go for film, but when I came across fashion, I changed my mind and now I'm applying for fashion. I still love film just as much as fashion, so I was thinking about getting a degree on fashion design and then specialize in costume design. I've still had my doubts, but your post made me sure of what I want to pursue. Thank you so much! :)

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