Here are five key things I tell my students:
1. Coursework that directly pertains to the fashion marketing arena is definitely valuable. Internship experience is also key, as is participation in fashion-related activities and clubs.
2. Equally as important as coursework is any sort of work experience, even if it’s not directly fashion-related. Employers want applicants who have worked in a variety of jobs, whether in retail or fast food. It says a lot about a student’s maturity and work ethic if they’ve been working after school, part time, etc.
3. When prepping for an interview, one of the most important things I recommend is reading the fashion trade publications—Business of Fashion, WWD, Fashionista, etc.—in addition to general marketing trades like Advertising Age, The Wall Street Journal, etc. If something important is happening in the industry, you should know about it and be able to speak about its implications. Employers want applicants who are passionate about the field, so show how this “passion” plays out for you specifically.
4. Comfort and efficiency with digital and social media is more important than ever. But the key here is to be able to speak about this as if you were “on the other side of the desk.” It’s not about how you use Instagram personally, but how you’ll use it to achieve business goals as the Marketing Director or Brand Manager of a fashion brand.
5. However you can, demonstrate that you’re a team player, that you have good relationships with colleagues, and that you can work in groups to make things happen. It’s the old standby from kindergarten: “works and plays well with others.” Employers don’t have the time or interest to deal with avoidable interpersonal conflict. The better you can prove you’ll fit into the organizational structure and be able to “hit the ground running,” the more of a leg-up you’ll have.
Let’s say the application process and the interview go well, and you’re offered a position. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you think you deserve in terms of salary, title, etc.—but do the research first. Make sure you establish credibility when negotiating. Also, don’t expect to be at a Director level after two weeks on the job. Just volunteer for projects, show up at company events whether you’re asked to or not, and conduct yourself in a professional manner at all times. A great career in fashion marketing can be yours!