August 10, 2011

Fashion School Or Internships

"Should I go to fashion school?" I'm almost positive that this is the most asked question among fashion industry hopefuls. Unfortunately there doesn't seem to be a clear-cut answer with industry professionals on both sides of the fence--while many require a degree of some sort others prefer that potential employees have first-hand experience. 

Having attended fashion school {for a short time} as well as participated in my fair share of interning, I decided to compile a list of pros and cons for each.

 Of course this is only intended to provided you with a bit more the end only you can determine the best route for you.

Fashion School Pros

  • Surrounded by like minded individuals who help feed your creative side and encourage you when things get tough.
  • Taught by industry professionals {most professors are currently working in the field}.
  • Networking potential among peers... you never know if your classmate is going to be the next fashion successes, plus professors may be able to provide you with insider opportunities.
  • Career opportunities via the school career center or job fairs {of course the type and caliber of companies that show up depend on each school}.
  • Like any other learning environment you have professionals to help you seemingly whenever you need it. This should be taken advantage of because you won't have someone there to guide you every step of the way once you graduate.
Fashion School Cons
  • The price tag. Yes, fashion school can cost you up to $40,000 a year {the same as some four year private universities...also happens to be the reason I couldn't finish}.
  • Many fashion schools only provide their students with an Associates Degree, but if the type of degree you get doesn't matter then this isn't such a big deal.
  • Get ready to compete. You thought the fashion industry was competitive? Try competing with every other person in your class everyday on every project... You are not the only one trying to get a job after graduation.
  • Say goodbye to your friends, family, and life for the next year or two. Fashion is fun, but it is also a lot of hard work. Most likely you'll  have to give up leisure activity and family time to finish school projects. I spent upwards of 4 hours a night working on fashion illustrations for one class.

Internship Experience Pros
  •  You get to experience the industry first hand and if you are a "visual person," like I am, this is invaluable. 
  • For the most part, industry professionals are at your disposal so ask as many questions as you can think of {of course make sure the timing is right... don't ask what their favorite lip gloss is in the middle of a staff meeting}.
  • Networking with industry professionals, now is the time if ever to show off your skills and get to know some people.
  • Sometimes you get paid and if not you get free stuff! :)
  • Nothing looks better on a resume than "I worked for insert fashion company here." Or better yet a reference letter from Ms or Mr Fashion Boss.
Internship Experience Cons
  • Getting your foot in the door can prove pretty difficult if you don't have prior experience or know someone who can get you in.
  • For the most part you are either not going to get paid or if you do it will most likely require getting a second job.
  • Long hours. There is no such things as 9 to 5 with an hour lunch break.
  • Don't know the first thing about fabric, trims, buttons, zippers, Microsoft office, PR? If you are even lucky enough to get the position in the first place, there won't be any time to learn and your stress levels may just skyrocket.
One more note on fashion school, if you want to be a designer or do merchandising and you posses no experience or skill in either, then fashion school may be a good route for you.

Fashion School Websites:

I know this isn't an exhaustive list so if you have any further questions please feel free to ask. If I don't have the answer I will do my best to find it for you! 

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