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Completing A Fashion Placement Year Could Be The Best Thing you could do.
Choosing a degree in fashion was never a negotiable subject for me. I knew I wanted to go into fashion, but choosing a course was slightly overwhelming. The sheer number of options is an incredible development from what it used to be a number of years ago. Which makes it much more difficult to make a decision on which course you want and where exactly you want to attend.
However, there was always one factor which helped me narrow down my options.
The ability to complete a fashion placement year as part of my degree, and that is exactly what I did.
I chose to attend The Manchester Fashion Institute at Manchester Metropolitan University, to study Fashion Promotion with a Sandwich Year.
This allowed me to complete 3 years of study, with a placement year in between. It was the best decision I ever made.
RECENT POST: What is uni really like: University myths
Read on to discover why completing a fashion placement year could be the best decision you make when completing your university degree.
Visit Megan Mariah to hear about my experience completing my fashion degree.
If you haven’t had any prior experience applying for jobs and attending interviews. Completing a fashion placement year is going to be imperative for gaining valuable experience.
Applying for a job in the fashion industry isn’t the same as applying for any other job. You are expected to be creative within the application process. You are expected to think outside the box and stand out, and with so much competition. It is important you get the practice in for when the real deal comes along when you graduate.
In my experience, applying for placement internships was a long process. From writing your cv to searching for jobs, the process isn’t as simple as it may seem. Each cover letter and CV you send out has to be specifically tailored to the role you are applying for. Each CV has to be creatively designed in a way which makes you stand out from everyone else applying for that same role. Applying for one job takes research and an understanding of the company. All in preparation for both the application process and the interview process.
Gaining this experience early on in your career will be so valuable to you in the future. Not only will it build your confidence in completing job applications. But it will also expand your knowledge regarding what should be included in your applications VS what shouldn’t.
Interviews are daunting for everyone, no matter what job it is. But going for a job in the fashion industry means an extensive interview process which can be scary for a newbie.
This is where having a placement will help you. Being able to experience what a real interview process is like will build your confidence for the future. You will know what to expect, what questions will be asked and what is required of you from both the application and interview processes.
For me, being someone who gets extremely anxious about interviews, experiencing how they work in the real world, gave me a valuable insight into what I was to expect in the future. I completed assessment days, where the interview took place in a group setting, one to one interviews, as well as 2 part interviews which required a sit-down chat and a presentation. All were very different, and it gave me an insight into how different companies like to recruit their employees. Now I can say I have experienced so many interview procedures. That when I go for a job now, I don’t think I could be surprised at what’s thrown at me.
These interview experiences taught me a few things:
DO YOUR RESEARCH!
And I don’t just mean the company’s history. Look into their marketing endeavours, their products, who they have worked with and find out what you like about the company.
My first interview threw me off guard with what questions to ask. Get your notepad and write down a few questions to take with you. Refer to it if need be, it shows you are prepared!
Companies want to see the real you, so let your personality shine!
I think anyone would be lying if they said that going from uni to working a full-time job was easy. It’s a massive adjustment, especially when you’re used to attending uni for only a couple of hours at a time. This is where I found my placement year helpful.
Yes, it took some time to get used to, getting up at the same time every day, working none stop (because now you have to and can’t just take a nap in the middle of the day, unfortunately), and getting home tired out ready to do it all again the next day. It’s a big change. I don’t think I would have been ready for that post graduating, had I not experienced it already. I was lucky enough to have flexible working hours. So I learnt that starting early and finishing early was a schedule that worked well for me.
Getting enough sleep is imperative for being productive at work. Especially in a fashion-focussed environment where you are constantly running around all day. Additionally, leaving enough time in the morning to get ready and get out of the house is incredibly important when getting up at 6 am. These little things seem very small, but working a 9-5 is very different to being at uni from 9-5. Being able to experience this is invaluable before entering the world of work.
Visit Megan Mariah to read more tips about working from home.
This one seems obvious, but it’s one of the most rewarding aspects of completing a placement year. Not only will you make valuable business connections which will no doubt help your career in the future. But you will also make friends for life.
Starting a new job in an environment unfamiliar to you is scary. But there is no doubt in my mind now, that wherever I end up in the future, there will be people around me to make me feel secure and happy in the workplace.
Connections are key for any career path, however when working in the fashion industry, they seem ever more valuable. On my placement I met photographers, stylists, makeup artists and hair stylists. I met buyers from other retail brands, event organisers and marketing specialists. All these connections have given me insights into my careers options and made me consider other paths I could take in the future. They have opened up additional work experience opportunities I would never have got if I hadn’t completed a placement year. I now have these connections for life which could mean potential collaborations in the future or even career opportunities which are so incredibly valuable within a creative industry.
Skills & Experience
I entered my placement year feeling overwhelmed and anxious that I would be in over my head. I felt like I didn’t know enough to be working in the industry. This is a common feeling for everyone and I’m here to tell you IT’S NORMAL and that is why a placement year is essential.
I walked into my placement with only the knowledge I had been taught in education, and I left my placement with a vast amount of knowledge regarding; wholesale, design, using stock database software, how to talk on the phone to customers, meetings and generally how a business runs. All of these skills were transferable into my final year at uni
and can now be transferred into any other fashion focussed job. I would not know any of this if I had not completed a fashion placement year. Education is great for teaching you things which will get you your degree, however, how to work in the industry isn’t taught as a unit. You need to experience this to learn this, and that is how a placement year will help.
The skills you learn on a placement year will show future employers that you are able to effectively work in a fashion focussed environment, and with that experience under your belt, you are going to stand out to potential employers as a suitable candidate.
Adding my year long experience to my CV was a great feeling, knowing that now I could apply for jobs wanting 1 year of experience in a similar role, whilst feeling confident in my ability to use my transferable skills in order to become successful.
Visit Megan Mariah to see work examples completed on my placement year.
If you have the opportunity to complete a placement year as part of your fashion course, or any course for that matter, DO IT!
Yes, it takes a lot of time and effort to apply on top of your studies, but it is totally worth it.
Future employers will praise you for your efforts to gain experience, you will gain valuable skills to utilise in your final year of studies, and as a result in your future workplace.
Yes, it means uni will take longer to complete, but you will graduate knowing your experience will be 100% beneficial to you in the future.
By Megan Hinchcliffe
About the Author
Recent Fashion Promotion Graduate from Lancashire, United Kingdom, running my blog ‘Megan Mariah’ where I write about lifestyle, travel, beauty and fashion.