The Advice I Always Give to Fashion and Media Students

Career Advice for Fashion Students

Yesterday I spoke at panel event at the University for the Creative Arts (UCA) Farnham. I studied Fashion Journalism at UCA’s Epsom campus, graduating with a First Class BA (Hons) degree in 2011. And every now and then I work with current UCA students, to provide career guidance and social media workshops.

This is both a huge honour, and a little bit trippy, because it doesn’t feel like it’s been that long since I graduated (how have eight years passed so quickly?!).

Generally, I find it quite hard to provide actionable career tips. Because in creative industries there are next-to-no rules. And any rules that are in place are usually made to be broken. So there’s no tried-and-tested path to success.

However, the more students I speak too, the more I find myself circling back to these four pillars of career advice, again and again…

Take your work seriously, but not yourself

This advice applies to all industries, I think. Creative or not.

Respect your work. Respect the process. Take it seriously. Always go in with enthusiasm and a desire to produce great results. But, whatever you do, don’t start taking yourself too seriously. Keep that ego in check!

People will want to work with you if you’re reliable, and can be trusted to do a great job. But it won’t matter how great your work is if you get a reputation for being difficult, self-important or haughty. No one is ever above being replaced.

Invest in your social media presence

Never underestimate the importance of social media. Your presence on Instagram and Twitter (if journalism is your field) are hugely important.

It’s never too early to start building your “brand” and carving out a distinct style that people associate with you.

Recent Fashion Marketing graduate, Mary Wyszomierska, agrees. “At university, our tutors always encouraged us to use social media as a way to engage with the industry, and present our skills,” Mary explains. “I was really enthusiastic about Instagram, and over time I started interacting with Monica from The Elgin Avenue. We had a similar visual aesthetic, and eventually she reached out over direct message to ask if I’d be interested in interning for her. It lead to a year-long internship.”

Running an Instagram account with 4k+ followers, and my experience working as a Social Media Intern, really enhanced my CV and helped to make me a more appealing candidate in job interviews,” Mary continues. “Employees are looking for digitally-savvy applicants, and will even ask which accounts you follow on social media in job interviews. It’s so important!”

{If your social media strategy could use some work, check out all of my advice posts here.}

Career Advice for Students


Style Credits: Wrap dress by Joanie (gift) | Basket bag by Next (gift)


Learn how to send a good email

I get it. Sending out cold-emails isn’t fun. So I understand the desire to fire off 12 copy-and-paste messages in one go. But if you think sending cold-emails is dull, take a moment to consider how those receiving generic, impersonal emails must feel. (Spoiler alert: they go straight into the trash).

And that’s why you must learn how to send a good email!

At the start of your career you’re going to be asking for a lot of favours. Whether that be an informal coffee meeting, an introduction to a new contact, updates on job opportunities, or help landing internships.

So do not underestimate the power of a personal, well-written email. ALWAYS do your research first. Address the email properly (“Dear editor” will not do), show that you know and admire that person’s work, and – wherever possible – share how you can be of service to them before asking for something in return.

Career mentor Naomi Mdudu spoke about how to write engaging cold-emails in episode #38 of the Let’s Discuss Podcast. So if you feel like you need to brush up on this skill give the episode a listen.

Network horizontally, as well as vertically

Networking is hugely important when you work in a creative industry. And, more often than not, people assume that means networking with people who sit higher up on the career ladder.

Whilst there’s no doubt that it can be useful to have connections in covetable positions, I think it’s equally as important to focus on relationships with your peers. So network horizontally, as well as vertically.

People rise in groups, so build strong and genuine relationships with other assistants and interns now, because they will be the PR managers, marketing executives and editors that you’re working with, 10 years from now.

What advice would you give to anyone rising up within your industry? Leave a comment below with your suggestions…

Photos by Kylie Eyra

HAVE YOUR SAY

  1. Marta says:

    I’ve studied fashion design and now I’m hoping to continue my studies in business because even though I love fashion, I don’t see myself working as a designer but on the marketing and business side of fashion. Very helpful tips, definitely gonna put them to good use in the future.

    • Ella Gregory says:

      Hi Marta! So glad you found these tips helpful. And the marketing and business side of fashion is so interesting, so I’m sure you’ll love working in that area!

  2. Elo says:

    I am currently a Fashion Marketing and Management student, at the same course that Mary did, and loving it so much! These tips are super helpful, thank you!x

  3. Teresa says:

    Such great tips that we should all remember to utilize every day.
    If I had to give one extra advice to someone who’s business relies on a website, I’d be adamant on learning the basics of SEO. I didn’t appreciate its importance until I saw exactly what an effect it has on my statistics on a daily basis. And being genuine 🙂 That takes one far in life in all areas. x

    Teresa Maria | Outlandish Blog

    • Ella Gregory says:

      Hi Teresa. This is SUCH good advice. Thank you so much for sharing. I focus quite a lot on SEO (although not as much as I would like too – it’s time consuming, isn’t it?), but I know a lot of newer bloggers don’t even think about it. And it can be so beneficial. xxx

  4. Estranged says:

    Great post – as a business school student I find that tips #3 and #4 apply to more “traditional” career paths just as much as creative industries. It’s all about creating and maintaining connections, not just for the sake of landing one internship but to enrich your career path for many years to come.

    • Ella Gregory says:

      Absolutely! How are you finding business school? I actually wish that I’d studied business sometimes. As it would be SO useful!

      • Estranged says:

        Business school is fantastic – there’s incredible diversity amongst students and faculty, so I’m constantly exposed to new ways of thinking, amazing stories and I can definitely say I’ve grown so much as a professional but also a s a person since starting my studies last year and it gives me a lot of confidence.

  5. Jade says:

    I love this, thank you!! Any tips always help as it’s an industry that is so unknown and scary, therefore, being a first year fashion marketing and management student this has really helped!!

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