I’m pretty sure anyone who has gone to a fashion school or is about to go to one, can agree that it’s pretty exciting in the beginning. All you can think about are the clothes, designers, shows, and if you decide to move far from home, the adventures in the city! I moved from California to go to school in New York to study fashion merchandising. Although I had withdrawn from the school due to issues with financial aid, I can still say that I was grateful to have gone, and I do plan on continuing with fashion, just maybe not with this school.
I wasn’t exactly an extrovert, so I wasn’t part of the whole clubbing scene like the rest of my school was. This didn’t hinder my experience though. I met a few people who liked what I liked and that’s what made everything so fun. School, however, was pretty stressful.
Many people dismiss anything fashion related as “easy” and a “waste of knowledge, money, and talent”, so I came knowing close to nothing about how a fashion school really is. Here are some things I wish I had known so I could have been more prepared:
- GET A JOB IN HIGH SCHOOL! Paid internships started either in the second semester of the first year, or the first of the second year. You basically get a normal job (in retail) and they call it a “paid internship”. We had a few weeks to get a job, and almost everyone had never had a job before, so we were all competing against each other to find a job we liked in Manhattan. If you have references from previous employers, this will make it easier for you to get a job. It also helps your resume look a bit more full!
- Volunteer and go to events! People everywhere would kill for a chance to volunteer at NYFW, so take advantage of it! I wasn’t exactly comfortable with volunteering at NYFW at the time, but now I regret not taking the chance. I did, however, go to smaller events and they’re still so much fun. These events can be used as experience and show that you’re truly invested in the industry.
- Use your planner. Trust me. Fashion school isn’t just reading Vogue and painting your nails in class. In fact, it’s the exact opposite (except for reading Vogue. We had the whole Vogue archive)! You’ll need to make time to finish homework and projects, to meet with your groups and clubs, to go out and buy supplies, to go out to museums for extra credit, or to go to stores to do your homework that focuses on that store. Manage your time so you’re not pulling all nighters like I did.
- Pronounce everything right. You will not believe how many people get angry if you say Givenchy or Yves Saint Laurent wrong.
- Start paying your student loans. Fashion schools are very expensive, and your aid probably doesn’t cover it all.
- Be on good terms with your professors. Obviously you could use them for references, but at my school, close to all of my professors actually worked in fashion and had a pretty decent reputation. They weren’t just professors teaching you from a book, they’re teaching from experience. Be on time, be nice, and do your work and maybe they’ll help you get an internship that you’re actually interested in.
- You’ll get tired of fashion, but stick with it. Fashion is an extremely cutthroat industry, so that’s why you need to learn and do so much.
I miss being able to go to school to learn about what I loved and having all those opportunities at my fingertips. Although it’s cutthroat and frustrating at times, it’s just so exciting!