In the nearly seven years since we started WhoWhatWear.com, we’ve interviewed hundreds of people for various positions and helped counsel interns and employees alike on what their next steps should be. We are not the job gods, but we do know a thing or two about getting into the fashion world and finding the right career path once there. Since graduation just happened and summer internships are about to start, we figured now is the perfect time to share some of the things we’ve learned--often times the hard way--so that you can find the right place for you to work. Read on for our top 10 tips on finding and landing your fashion dream job!
1. Educate Yourself
There are so many different aspects of the fashion world--from publishing to production to public relations to prop styling--you really need to investigate the possibilities. Are you crazy about the displays in Barneys windows and the way products are showcased in the store? Maybe you should be a visual merchandiser. Always had a passion for drawing, especially clothes? Perhaps fashion illustration is for you. Is there a section of a fashion magazine that you really adore, say the pop culture section up front or maybe the fashion spreads? Figure out which editor is responsible for that section, and go after similar jobs. In short: research, research, research!
2. Come Up With Your Target List
Once you have a sense of what area you’d like to work in, think about the companies or individuals who really inspire you and make you excited about fashion--that's who you should be going after. We always know when a potential employee is truly a fan of our company, and that passion makes a huge difference. For example, if you’ve collected every single issue of a magazine since it debuted and know each section inside and out, maybe that’s a publication you should try to work for. Or perhaps you think a t-shirt line is simply impeccable in everything they do--from the advertising to the branding to the fact that the shirt’s label is a tiny chain instead of a typical tag--that’s the sort of company you should look into.
3. Create A Thoughtful Resume and Cover Letter
Your cover letter and resume are the first impression your prospective employer gets, so you really need to customize it and make it flawless. If you're looking for an internship and don't have a great deal of experience, the cover letter is even more important. To really impress, include specific examples as to why you love the company and how you'd be a great addition to the team.
4. Scrub Your Social
We have all been overserved at some point in our lives--that's fine. Having a million photos of you holding a red cup and making a devil face all over the web? Less so. Know this: your prospective employers are going to Google you. They will check out your Facebook profile, Tweets, Instagrams, and Vines, so make sure nothing comes up that is anything less than professional.
We cannot stress this enough: you have to intern. In addition to getting actual work experience in your given field--which is priceless--you also get the chance to check out the company culture. You will also make contacts, both with fellow interns and your bosses, who can help you for the rest of your career. We go out of our way for our exceptional interns and do anything we can to help them get jobs.
6. Go Above & Beyond
Just getting your dream internship isn't enough--you have to go above and beyond every day. Be the first one in and the last one out. Volunteer for any job, not just the more desirable ones. Take the initiative, and do things before you're asked. And remember: if you can't excel at the smaller or more tedious tasks--like making copies or getting coffee--you'll never get the bigger projects. Remember: you won't be doing this forever and you're learning how to be truly resourceful and thorough, two key skills that any employer will see as an asset.
7. Look The Part
Before you even open your mouth, your interview outfit is communicating things to your potential future boss, so make sure you know what your look is saying. When in doubt, we always say to err on the conservative side, but that doesn't mean you have to wear a suit. Your goal should be to look polished, professional, and totally pulled together, and also show some of your personality. We wrote an entire chapter dedicated to this topic in our book What To Wear, Where, so check it out if you want more details. (We're biased, of course, but it's pretty good!)
8. Ace Your Interview
This seems like a no-brainer, but it bears repeating: do your homework. Research the person you're interviewing with and make sure you know not only what they do, but also their recent projects and the company's history. Being able to demonstrate your familiarity with the company is a sign of respect and enthusiasm. Also, be punctual. Things will not go well if you start off on a tardy note.
9. Showcase Your Point Of View
Even if you don't have a great deal of experience in fashion, you can still show your taste level through a blog or smartly curated Pinterest boards. Think of it as an addendum to your resume and one more way you can potentially impress your interviewer. People in fashion are always interested in well-executed visuals, so it's really just offering one more way to stand out from the crowd.
10. Send An Old-School Thank You
In this fast-paced world, emailing your interviewer to say thank you might seem fine--and for some people, it is--but nothing beats a handwritten note. The key is to make sure you put it in the mail on the same day you go in for your interview. Promptness is everything.