In Conversation with BA (Hons) Fashion Buying and Merchandising student, Heather
Getting ready for a career in fashion requires not just developing in your subject area, but also gaining crucial industry experience, connecting with industry professionals, and exploring the broader context of your chosen discipline.
At London College of Fashion (LCF) we offer courses that give students the chance to embark on their fashion career paths and pursue their passion while also providing opportunities to develop their skills and set them up for entering industry.
As part of BA (Hons) Fashion Buying and Merchandising, students have the opportunity to work with industry on collaborative projects, as well as the chance to undertake a placement year. Students not only gain invaluable experience that will set them up for success in their future careers, but also an extra Diploma in Professional Studies Industry (DiPS) qualification. We have had students working for big brands like Nike, H&M, Disney, Rixo and ASOS.
The DiPS placement allows students to apply their knowledge to the practical world, while building on soft skills like problem solving, teamwork and commercial awareness. Under the guidance of the DiPS team, students secure a full-time work placement in their area of specialisation in the industry. In addition, students complete an academic piece of work, which builds on their academic skills and sets them up for their final year of study. Placement students are much more likely to achieve a high-class degree than non-placement students - 81% of placement students over the last 3 years have achieved a 2.1 or a 1st compared with 43% of non DiPS placement students!
We caught up with BA (Hons) Fashion Buying and Merchandising student, Heather, who is on her DiPS placement to give you a better idea of what it's really like to work with industry professionals.
Can you tell us why you chose the BA Fashion Buying and Merchandising?
Originally, I was studying History, Ancient History and Archaeology at the University of Birmingham. But in my 2nd year I started to realise I was not happy nor fulfilled. I took a big leap and left the University of Birmingham and started following my passions. I was always interested in fashion but was never the most artistic, so designing didn’t feel like the right path for me. What really interested me was the why and how. Why was this pattern chosen? How was it made? By whom? Where? Why this price? When I began looking for university courses, BA Fashion Buying and Merchandising stood out to me because it was exactly that.
Can you tell us where you worked/what you did in your DiPS year and your experience on placement?
In my third year I went to work at Amazon within the Advertising team as an Account Manager. There I was the primary point of contact for my clients, responsible for providing data-driven proposals and strategic recommendations, managing campaigns from end to end including launch, optimisations and final reporting. I had an amazing experience where I was able to work with some great brands like Samsung, Apple, Dolce & Gabbana, Swarovski, Levis, Havaianas and many more. I met with some amazing people, gained great friends and mentors that I still lean on today.
What support did you receive from your tutors during your placement year?
While it is a year without lectures or seminars, your tutors are still there to check-in on you occasionally and support you whenever needed. You can lean on them for any issues, not only at work but also for the end-of-year assessment. A full-time position will be new for many people, so having our tutors ease any doubts or worries was nice so it
What do you think the benefits are of completing the DiPS year?
I can’t recommend it enough; I knew as soon as I joined LCF I wanted to complete the DiPs year. I had applied for many positions in the fashion management field but was rejected due to my lack of experience. The DiPs year is an opportunity to experience working in industry whilst making connections that will be useful in the long term. Amazon gave me full management over my book of business, which was daunting at first, but by the end of the year when catching up with my clients and seeing their improved performance, was one of my favourite parts of the job. If you are like me and enjoy learning new things, meeting new people and having new experiences then it will be one of, if not the favourite year of your degree. If you demonstrate your passion for the work, and make a good impression, you could even be invited back after your final year of university.
Can you tell us about any other industry projects you have worked on? Tell us what aspects you have enjoyed the most and how your experience is working with a live brief?
As someone who loves variety in their work-life, new challenges brought on by clients or briefs were always something I looked forward to. What shocked me the most about working as an Account Manager was how fast paced the role was. While some may think digital media management is fully automated or you have weeks or months to work on a brief. Really, the brief to launch lead time could be as short as one week; Account Managers must be responsive and proactive with their clients. Also, as Amazon has many different placement channels, Amazon.co.uk, Prime Video, Twitch and many more, you get to work with different teams and build excellent people skills.
What advice would you give to someone who is thinking of applying to BA Fashion Buying and Merchandising?
Do your research! Understand what a normal day as a buyer or merchandiser will look like. Use all of your resources too; try reaching out to professionals on LinkedIn or ask a friend in a similar position what their day-to-day duties are. I would also recommend working alongside your studies – it allows you to develop skills and make you distinctive to interviewers. In my second year I was lucky enough to work as a studio intern for London-based brand LNDR. They exposed me to inter-team collaboration, helping me to develop my problem-solving skills and boost my confidence in a professional setting. This really made me stand out in my Amazon interview and contributed to me landing the Account Manger role.