One of the most influential courses for a student nearing graduation is Professor May Beard’s FH 452 Senior Symposium class. The course is designed so that students learn advice from various guest speakers in the industry, gain experience in constructing a proper resume and cover letter, and participating in a speed interview event.
With graduation approaching in December, I thought I would reflect on some words of wisdom from this past year’s guest speakers:
1.) I LOVE every area of fashion and I want to pursue, or at the very least give EVERYTHING a try. However, I was given a word of caution about this from the lovely Frechye Bush (our local FGI President and a favorite mentor of mine!) Frenchye admitted that she had the same exuberance I have, she wanted to do EVERYTHING. While there’s nothing wrong with being ambitious, you do at some point need to narrow it down a bit. The reason being is that what if you’re approaching a mentor and you tell them your lofty ideas for your career path and they too do not know where to start to guide you? If you write down your top 10 ideas and then narrow it down to your top 3 you can visually see how to incorporate your top 10 ideas into a focused top 3. Real life example: I found myself facing the dilemma of not being able to narrow down what I want to focus on for grad school. To make a long story short, I came up my top 3 ideas (Fashion, Journalism, and Advertising/PR), talked it out with another trusted mentor, and my top 3 ideas became one CONCISE, FOCUSED idea! (Shout out to Anne-Marie Gurko for getting me on the right track!)
2.) I owe this awesome idea to Frenchye: for those who are very visual like I am, sometimes it helps to physically compose a plan for your future and outline the steps necessary to execute your plan.
3.) Another important lesson is from Devin Vandermaas (Founder of The Factory 2.0) : college is an important time to network! I’ve met some of the most amazing and influential people in the world wide and local fashion industry through Fashion Group International! Making as many connections as you can and having an “arsenal” of mentors is a necessary and ongoing part of life that might as well begin now. Devin also asserts that we should never be afraid to ask for advice when we need it.
4) We shouldn’t sweat it if we lack in the quantity of experience in the work field, because quality is far more important. Another guest speaker advised us to do whatever we think we needed to do to get necessary experience, such as taking on a workshop experience in Paris if you think that will give you the upper edge, or perfecting a seemingly unprofessional accent a la “Working Girl”–but each person has their own unique vision, level of taste, experiences, etc. and because we are uniquely individuals, that’s what we bring to a company. Never lose confidence in yourself no matter what you might think you’re competition has going for them.
5.) Are you currently in the process of lining up an internship? Some advice from an Ursuline Graduate, Stacy Piotrkowski: if you haven’t heard back from company you’re interning with, DO get in touch with them! To make a long story short, because Stacy followed up when she didn’t get a call back, she DID secure her internship with Seventeen Magazine!
6.) Lastly (there are SO many important lessons, this isn’t actually the last) if your boss has you “pushing a dumpling cart” at an office party, or running an errand to Mood on a rainy day in the city, you CAN speak up for yourself and politely suggest to your boss that your services would be better used doing something else besides being a “gopher.” A word of caution while making a suggestion like this is that you should remember to be RESPECTFUL and COURTEOUS to your boss