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How to Get a Career in Fashion

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Finding your dream job in the fashion world may seem next to impossible given the steep competition. Yet, all designers don’t get their big break from reality TV shows like Project Runway, some go to school and have amazing careers in fashion — with or without the hype. So, what’s next? How about a fashion education.

Did you know that you can major in perfume design or gain the business skills to be a buyer for large department stores like Bloomingdales? There’s an array of jobs in design, merchandising and business — all you have to figure out is what interests you the most.

Well, we’re here to help you make it work. We spoke with a career counselor and professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology to get some insider tips for you. Check out our guide that will show you how to get a career in fashion. Plus, discover the hottest jobs in the industry you may not know about.

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Probably one of the most important things you can do for a future in fashion -- get out and network! Join important networking sites like LinkedIn to develop your professional network and relationships with people you know and meet in the future.

Volunteer and search for internships. The time is now, the sooner you start, the more your chances improve. Search on fashion job sites, scour fashion school listings and volunteer for fashion events. The more people you meet, the larger your network will become.

Image Courtesy: LIFE

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You've done your research, but you're still in high school and not ready to apply to a program yet. Well, in addition to your internship, you might as well start taking a couple classes. That's right, look for classes on Saturdays, some schools like FIT offer classes for high school students.

If you don't live in NYC, check your local community college for Saturday courses with a fashion focus. And, if you can't find any classes, you should start exercising your skills on your own. Whether that's designing, researching or writing.
Image Courtesy: Fashion Bomb Daily, Sketches by Jerome Lamaar Fortez

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In order to apply to a school for a career in fashion, you need to showcase your work. Call career counselors at the schools where you'd like to apply and get their advice. Get the specifications of the admission process and what admissions counselors like to see in portfolios for the major you'd like to have.

Once you're admitted to a school, you'll need to pick a major right away, so make sure you've worked in the industry, have a portfolio and know where you want to get started once you get it -- though it seems backwards -- knowing this will help you craft your portfolio and create the best application for admission.

And, remember, you must follow your passion -- without it, the stress, competition and intensity of this industry will get to you and you may not make it to your ultimate goal.
Image Courtesy: Ottowa Fashion Week

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1. Fashion is about producing, selling and buying -- the sooner you get out and start learning about the industry the better. Whether you're steaming clothes for a design house or working in retail, you must get experience.

2. Stay ahead of the game. Sure, it's good to be very "now," but many in the fashion world are looking ahead two seasons. Be forward-thinking.

3. The average starting salary for a graduate from FIT is $38,000-40,000. This is a reality. Plus, you need to keep in mind that for the first few years of your career, you will not have a life. Both for personal and financial reasons, you need to consider this when choosing your major and career path.

4. Fashion has downsized. Due to the economy, the industry has changed dramatically. You must know how to multi-task and have a variety of skills. The more cross-trained you are, the better because employers are hiring only one person where they used to hire three.

5. Be tech savvy. You know fashion and how to sketch, write or merchandise, but do you know how to use new technology that will make you an asset to a future employer? Learn it. Live it.

6. Think creatively. No one said finding a job in fashion would be easy. Ultimately, it's up to you to make it work. Be thoughtful about what you do and keep trying new things -- whether that's in finding a job or when you are working on a project. Innovation is the key to success in this business.
Image Courtesy: Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week

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