Many of us love fashion, but few consider it a real career.
The mainstream sees fashion as glamorous from the outside but hideous from the inside. It is an industry with often ridiculously high price tags and dis-proportionally low average income. That’s why fashion is rarely associated with MBA. A typical MBA student targets a 6-figure post graduation income, while in the fashion industry, the mid-level income is almost half of that figure. So when I brought my resume to the Style Careers New York Fashion Career Fair, I found I really need to make my MBA education a legitimate story.
Late boomer as I am, I was not determined to jump into the fashion industry until the end of my year-one MBA life. Trying to identify my true career goals, I went back to school to give myself time to think and try out things. And it turns out that a setback is a blessing in disguise. If I were so sure about continuing my former career in marketing/business development, I would never have the chance to come across this industry that I have been in love since I was a child.
It’s difficult for international student and I have to face the fact that I am going to earn much less than the majority of my classmates if I could eventually land a job in fashion. But this is the only industry I would still love to work for if I were not paid and had to work 24/7.
So what I have done so far to get closer to my dream job? Check out some of the steps followed if you are also an international student and want to make it in fashion?
- Build LinkedIn network to explore opportunities
Join relevant groups and follow companies you are interested in. Connect to people that have an aspiring career path, even if they are completely strangers. Closely monitor group discussions and job postings on LinkedIn. I spotted the Style Careers job fair in a group discussion one day prior to the event!
- Utilize Specialized Job Board to identify your targets
So far I found the most useful ones are stylecareers.com and fashionjobstoday.com. Take full use of headhunters/agencies registered in StyleCareers.
- Cross check on myvisajobs.com to narrow down your targets
Search for relevant companies and check through their H1B filing history and positions offered for each H1B. If they are all about technical jobs, you can basically rule that company out. I used to fly all the way to Houston for a fashion buyer job and could not even start my interview conversation because the company has strict rules not hiring H1B students except IT professionals. Unless you can find a way to get around with the HR, don’t waste the time and money. We are not trying to make miracles.
- Take baby steps and build experiences as many as possible
Contribute to online blogging communities or take up an internship regardless paid or unpaid. You might be a PHD in engineering but you are a freshman in fashion. Start from the basics!
I wish the best of luck for all of us. Where there is a will, there is a way.