By Jessica Frost
Once upon a time, you went to high school and got good grades so that you could go to University. You went to University so that you could get a degree and find a good paying job. You needed a good paying job so that you could buy a house, settle down and start a family. Hands up whose ever been told they’d never be successful without some kind of degree or educational qualification?
Well, gone are the days of having to waste your life away in a classroom to gain any chance of getting a good job. I’m certainly not saying no one needs to go to Uni or College; you aspiring doctors and lawyers and accountants don’t have a lot of choice. I’m talking more specifically toward the fashion industry.
Nowadays, a degree is beginning to mean less and less and self-starters are breaking through as the example of ‘making’ it in the fashion industry.
The thing is, having any kind of formal qualification doesn’t guarantee you a job in fashion the same way it does with other degrees. Even if you’ve completed Uni or College, you still have to intern or find unpaid work experience somehow. A lot of people have to take a job unrelated to their studies within a fashion company as well just so they can get their foot in the door.
Studying fashion also doesn’t even mean you will end up with the skills you’ll need to really kill it. So much of the talent in the industry comes from raw and primal instincts. A bit of training can go a long way but there are a lot of successful players proving you can just be born with it.
I personally completed a fashion design course only to find out at the end that it’s not what I wanted to do. Whilst some of the knowledge I gained from that comes in handy for me now, the fact that I actually have that qualification means nothing on my resume. For me, it’s internships, networking and putting my work out there that serves me any chance of cementing myself a position in the industry.
You also have to consider just how quickly the industry and its practices are changing. So many new roles have been created over as short a period of time as the past five years. There isn’t a formal degree or diploma to cover every possible job role or career path. Many fashion industry alums will also tell you about how there isn’t one set path in the fashion industry that you have to follow. Often, working in one role gives you exposure to something completely different and you end up shifting jobs. How do you then decide what course you should enrol in or which subjects you need to take?
It’s also important to consider how completing a degree outside of fashion can help you to be successful in the industry. There’s a huge amount of successful fashion players that studied commerce or got a business degree or even used their studies of architecture or computer science to find their break in the industry.
When you’re planning your future, or even if you’re living your future right now (you know, like, you’ve got a degree and don’t know where to go from here), you have to think about what’s going to work best for you as an individual. Not what your parents used to tell you is the best path. If you want my advice; ditch Uni, do an internship, find yourself a mentor and take advantage of all of the pearls of wisdom life has to offer.