LCF’s MA and postgraduate students were given a unique insight into the workings of the fashion industry as part of the week-long Graduate School Festival. A host of panel discussions, featuring some of the industry’s notable designers and recruitment consultants, aimed to give students practical advice to assist their transition from studying to the workplace.
Chaired by Dr Lynne Hammond, Director of the Graduate School’s Business and Management programme, the discussion titled ‘What Are Employers Looking For?’ debated key questions regarding the application and interview process for entry level positions.
The panel were in agreement over keeping CV’s concise and using the interview process to highlight your personality. Application tips included filming or handwriting covering letters and sending them by post to show you have taken the time to think about your application.
“Make your CV stand out”, said Urban Outfitters’ Junior Talent Scout Kate Davies. “Be concise and have an impact. Have an opinion and have conviction. Tell me why you should work for us.”
Being creative with applications was encouraged, along with demonstrating your understanding of the brand. Kate advised interviewees to “dress in the clothes that reflect our brand”. New Look’s Kate McCloud reiterated this:
“Really understand the customer and understand who we are”, she said. “Use the interview to show us you are a good match for the company”.
The second panel discussion tackled the question, ‘What is a Creative Entrepreneur?’, chaired by Chitra Buckley. Making up the panel were costume designer Patrick Whitaker, lingerie designer Nicole de Carle and retail entrepreneur Samson Soboye.
The panel debated fundamental business issues such as strategies and financing. Work experience is essential, as Nicole explained:
“It’s so important to have experience. It’s what employers look for and if you are wanting to be an entrepreneur then experience is key”.
Discussing her experience at Alexander McQueen, she said: “I had to knock on that door and continue to knock until I got in.”
Being persistent and positive is crucial. The panel also stressed the importance of trademarking your name, ensuring costs are covered and making sure your garments are financially viable. “Understand what product is selling over what you would like to design”, advised Nicole.
Although different in topics, both panels unanimously agreed that success comes from being yourself, being original, being enthusiastic and selling your strengths. As Samson advised, “if you don’t believe in your product, you can’t expect anyone else to believe in it or believe in you”.
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- Words by Grace Elisabeth Cook, Postgraduate Certificate Fashion and Lifestyle Journalism