It’s that time of year: The flowers are blooming, the iced coffees are chilling, and the most recent crop of college graduates is looking for some advice. If you’re one of the newcomers to the workforce who dreams about living your own personal version of the Devil Wears Prada, we’re here to help.
Gap Inc. sponsored this year’s Live Talk Space at Graduate Fashion Week in London, hosting conversations with fashion luminaries like Simon, Director of Creative Recruiting at Banana Republic, Jane Ibarra, Banana Republic’s Head of Fabric R&D, John Caruso, Gap’s Head of Adult Design and Issy Root and Jasmine Bennett, two former interns at Gap and Old Navy and graduating seniors from Northumbria University. They inspired this list of tips for how to go after a job in fashion.
Consider your fit
Choosing your employer might seem like a strange idea when you feel like you’re the one who has to wait to be chosen, but many people underestimate the value of finding a culture that aligns with their values and set them up for success. A company with a strong mission statement that matches your own will be worthy of your talent.
Think about whether you want to keep it small or go big
Small companies can offer great opportunities: you’ll likely have the chance to learn a lot by filling a number of different roles. Larger companies often have better-defined career paths and professional development opportunities that can help you learn and grow, too. It all comes down to company culture, atmosphere and other factors that matter most to you.
Expand your circle and your comfort level
Time to get out there and network! Listening to speakers at a college, attending a fashion show or signing up for an industry-specific networking event are all great opportunities to socialize with potential employers — or with people who can connect you to someone who’s hiring. Don’t be shy; you never know who you might meet.
Talk with people who do what you want to do
Once you’ve gotten a business card from someone, keeping in contact is crucial to gaining more knowledge or a foot in the door. Ask to have coffee or an informational interview to learn more about what they do and why they’re passionate about their work. But be respectful of people’s time: When you email your request to chat, be specific about what you’d like to discuss instead of saying, “I’d love to pick your brain.”
Build a portfolio that shines
A portfolio is so much more than a résumé. It can encapsulate your style and offer a glimpse into who you are as person. A professional, organized and polished portfolio is a way for a potential employer to see how you think, your vision and what you might be able to deliver.
Learn to sell yourself
Your portfolio might land you an interview — but it won’t guarantee you a job, so this is the time to practice your pitch about what you do best. Think about how you want the person who’s interviewing you to remember you after the meeting is over, and have answers and anecdotes ready about the accomplishments you’re proudest of, the top skills you bring to a workplace and the role you tend to play in a team.
Rejection isn’t a bad thing
When one door closes, another opens, so keep putting yourself out there and don’t get discouraged by “no thank yous” along the way. If you’re bold enough, ask the hiring manager what your résumé or portfolio was lacking, so you can work toward building that competency.
Speaking of careers, we’re hiring! You can check out our open positions here.