Fashion Student? Here's How To Secure Your Dream Placement

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

From one placement student to another, here's how to get yourself one step closer to securing that industry role.

First things first, I'm by no means an expert but I thought I'd share my experiences with you to help any future undergrads also hoping to embark on an exciting placement year in the fashion industry! I'm still making my way on my own little journey into fashion, I'm not there yet but it's safe to say it's been a pretty whirlwind of a year for me.

So, what did I do? For the last 15 months I've worked as a 'Social Media Executive' for an established fashion retail company. From seeing my first show at London Fashion Week (the snaps featured in this post are from my second stint - Once again thanks to my job, which I attended last week. It was so so much fun!) to flying out to Cologne, my placement year truly has offered me some utterly unreal experiences which I'll never forget and I'm truly grateful for. It's a year in which I've learnt so much about both myself and what it's like to work within the digital fashion/retail industry. It's been fast paced, intense but ever so rewarding to see all of the hard-work pay off. And trust me, in the end - It always does!

Working towards your assignments whilst perfecting your CV and aiming to secure that placement (alongside working a part time job/running a blog if you have those too!) can be so hard to find the balance without curling up into a ball of stress. But it's manageable, have no fear! There are however, a few things which I wish someone would have told me prior to applying for my placement year.

So, how can you too get there?

The application stage:
  • Do your research! 
I seriously cannot emphasise how important it is to not only know about current affairs within the industry but to have a good background knowledge on the company you are applying to work for. What are they currently getting up to? Seen something on their social pages you like? Tell them! All of these things help to show (rather than simply tell) the employer, about your active interest in the industry.

I also highly recommend thoroughly researching different roles within the industry to see which you like the sound of and could potentially see yourself working in. Whether it be 9 months or 12, it's a hell of a long time to find yourself in a job you don't think you want to continue in upon graduating. Of course, there's no guarantee you are going to fall in love with your placement but going into it with an expectation of where you see yourself in 5-10 years time will definitely help you upon graduating. 

Whether it's buying, merchandising, marketing or social media'ing once you've picked your vice spend the year leading up to your interviews/placement itself capturing additional experience in that area of the industry. I interned for nine months unpaid and this truly stood me in such good stead when it came to bagging the placement role against my other candidates!
  • Never underestimate a role
It's great to be sure of yourself and have a set mind on what companies/type of role you want to work for. However, do try to have an open mind. I applied for my placement on a complete whim, I truly did not think I would get the role. I'm not exactly a typical employee for the company in terms of my personal interests; however I completely surprised myself when I entered the role. Sometimes, it's when you least expect it that the best opportunities arrive; be mindful. 
  • Turn setbacks into opportunities
Cliché but so so important to do.
Nobody likes rejection. Unfortunately it's a harsh reality of life, we cannot always have things our way. It's how you respond to it that's the important part. Always be sure to follow up your prospective employers for feedback on your application to know where to focus on improving in for future interviews. Not only does this help you develop your skills but you're showing employers how keen and passionate you are; they'll remember you in future for this if you were to re-apply for the company later down the line. 
  • Intern, blog, guest post - Get experience under your belt!
All of the above are great things to add to your CV. I've blogged on and off for four years but I applied for several placement opportunities and it was me lacking in the real experience department which is where I continued to fall short. I researched opportunities, I hustled and I worked unpaid as a PR intern for 9 months. Never see an opportunity as 'unpaid', you're being paid in experience and sometimes that's worth far more than the money in the long haul.

The Interview:

  • Dress for YOU
You've applied for a role in fashion, let the employer see your personality as you walk through the door. Dress comfortable and dress for you. You're likely to be more relaxed if you're happy in what you're wearing. Not a heel wearer? Then don't do it for the interview, you're in fashion; there's more freedom to play with the rules of typical interview attire in this instance. Take advantage of it!! I paired a bomber jacket with a slogan tee, trousers and flat slip on shoes for mine, showing a touch of my personality but still keeping things on the formal side with trousers for good measure. 
  • Have questions of your own prepared
Yes, you are trying to convince an employer about why they need you in their company but you also need to know what they can offer you. Why should you want to work for them? Interviewers will typically ask you if you have any questions at the end. Definitely try and prepare at least two. Once again you'll be remembered for taking the initiative to affirm your interests in the role, plus you might leave learning something you didn't know prior going into the interview! 
  • The group task - Get noticed, but get others noticed too
I know that sounds crazy, why would you want the employer's spotlight to be on someone else? Going back a step, during the placement process it's quite likely you'll go through an assessment centre; involving a group task and sometimes even a presentation alongside your one-to-one interview. Typically, the group task itself you won't find out what it entails until on the day of assessment, however there are some key guidelines on how you should act. Make yourself noticed - Give points but get others noticed too. Actively encourage quieter members of your group for their thoughts, getting others involved says really good things about your character as this reflects how life should be in the workplace. Taking ideas from one another rather than simply making it all about you, because in this case you're so concerned with the employer noticing you that it makes it very easy to forget that. Bounce off of one another!

And a few final words...
Fashion is fast paced. Even more so now we are living in the age of a digital era, spend your time keeping a finger on the pulse; actively reading up on current fashion news/trends/affairs on a day to day basis. You could be in the office kitchen one day and have read a really interesting article on a recent piece of technology featured at fashion week. A colleague might question you about it...

"Omg have you seen ______?"
"Yeah I have! It's great/awful."

It's impressive to be in the know. And people will you remember you for that. Ever heard of the elevator pitch? Think of this of the 'I am in fashion' pitch. 

If you're currently applying for a placement to commence next year then I wish you the very best of luck with securing one. Everything does happen for a reason in the end so try not to be too downhearted if you fail to secure one. It isn't a 'failure', your opportunity just hasn't arisen yet.
And if you currently are out on placement this year then I hope you have the most fantastic time, make the most of it because university comes back around before you even know it!

I'm always happy to share any further advice on my experiences, so feel free to slide into my DM's. I'm over at @clarkecouture on insta if you fancy a good ole natter! I was thinking of writing up a post more specifically on my experience in my job role, sharing 'What Working In Social Media Has Taught Me'. If that's something you would be interested in seeing then let me know in the comments below!

Until next time,

Post a Comment

On The Gram

© Clarke Couture's Closet. Design by FCD.