Since graduating from my degree in Fashion Journalism just under 5 months ago, I’ve been plummeted into what they call ‘adult life’. Suddenly, the foundations of an educational system that upheld me for the past 17 years have fallen away, leaving me to stand on my own two feet. This sudden paradigm shift – in what feels like an instant – can be an unnerving prospect for many. But in fact, I’m 99% certain that I’ll look back fondly on these next few years as some of the most pivotal moments of my life.
Learning to navigate through life post-graduation is one of the biggest periods of self-growth and awareness that you’ll ever go through – that is, should you choose to boldly follow your dreams (and you should).
“I’m no guru, but I’ve found that simply hearing another person’s experiences
is a pleasant reminder that we all share similar doubts and worries – no matter who we are.”
Since graduating, I landed a role as fashion trend forecaster and left my family home in Yorkshire to pursue my dreams in the big smoke. Along the way, I’ve learnt some valuable lessons and discovered some insightful truths that I’ve whittled down into 10 key points below.
ONE / Experience matters more than grades.
Sure, getting a good degree matters – let’s not get it twisted. But ultimately, employers value time spent gaining industry experience over a number of hours spent curled over a textbook in the library. Although I feel extremely lucky to have landed a job straight after graduating, I’m aware that luck only comes to those who are prepared to receive it. I had 4 interviews for my current role and found that the company were far more interested in hearing about the times in which I took initiative to meet personal goals over academic achievements. For instance, personally reaching out to publications to create Fashion Week content for them enabled me to achieve my goal of attending my first London Fashion Week!
TWO / Confidence is KEY
Once you leave University, you can no longer hide behind your classmates or sit at the back of the class in a seminar. You have to speak up. Whether that’s jumping on a phone call, presenting in front of your colleagues or simply contributing to team meetings – getting comfortable with putting yourself out there is key. At my first team meeting, my manager expressed her appreciation for me taking an active role in discussions and speaking up – adding that most newbies tend to be extremely quiet. (However, I’m yet to conquer my fear of taking phone calls!) Ultimately, the more frequently you force yourself out of your comfort zone, the quicker you conquer your fears.
THREE / Despite the $$$, it was still worth it
Having started University after the tuition fees rose, it is estimated that I have already gathered £44,000 in debt at just 22 years old. Deep breaths... I have often wondered whether gaining a degree qualification was worth it in the end but upon reflection, there are a lot of things I learnt at University that I just simply didn’t know beforehand. As a Fashion Journalist, knowing your history and references is of utmost importance in order to make an intelligent and considered critique. So make the most of all the knowledge you’ve acquired and highlight it in your CV i.e Skills – Catwalk Reporting.
FOUR / Toot your own horn!
When you step inside this industry, modesty should be left at the door. There is no room for shyness here! Whilst there is a fine line between arrogance and confidence, the people who get far in their careers are those who aren’t afraid to speak up about their achievements. Bring attention your skills and what sets you apart from others. Do you have a knack for photography as well as writing? Mention it!
FIVE / I’ve still got no clue about ‘adulting’
Despite how much your course tries to prepare you for ‘the real world’, leave room for the unexpected. The same goes for personal finance and taxes, I feel like I still don’t have a clue what I’m doing in that department. But the best thing is – no one else does either! Thankfully, there are a tonne of events and online resources that you can utilise to get clued up. Maven host some fantastic events (I recently attended ‘Making A Living From Freelance Writing’) and there’s a whole plethora of Facebook groups dedicated to bringing together creatives in similar fields to share knowledge and information, such as ‘Freelance B2B Writers’ for freelance journalists.
SIX / Networking is not just a buzzword
No doubt you’ve heard your mum, cat and dog bark on about this word before, but it really cannot be stressed enough. As cringe-y as it may seem, networking is vital to getting ahead in this industry. Part of this comes from honing your people skills and just generally being a pleasant person to be around. You’ll find that you need to rely on your peers (previous interns you worked with and your alumni), so make sure to keep up to date with where those people are on LinkedIn and create a personal database with contacts you come across at work. You never know, they may be the connecting link that’ll land your next job!
SEVEN / Take care of your online portfolio
Be sure to have a great website advertising your best work (quality > quantity), a CV ready to go and an up-to-date LinkedIn page showcasing your latest achievements. You never know just who might stumble upon your work.
EIGHT / There are no more summer holidays
Ah, summer holidays… what happened to them? Unless you’re a teacher, say goodbye to those long summer months and hello to the 9-5 work week. After graduating, I would personally advise not to book any holidays for the next 4 months in that summer. I got offered my job role just two days before my start date in June and couldn’t imagine having to turn it down just because I’d already booked a holiday for that week. Something worth considering…
NINE / Your degree doesn’t necessarily indicate where you’ll be
Unless you’re studying to become a Doctor, it is not uncommon to end up down a career path that strays far from what you initially intended. Whilst my degree is in Fashion Journalism I’ve ended up in trend forecasting, soon to be transitioning into a retail data role. Whilst I never thought I’d end up working within a data team, it turns out my fashion terminology skills are an asset and easily transfer to the requirements of this role.
In fact, it is often beneficial to have studied in another area of that in which you work in order to bring a new perspective to the table. Take SHOWStudio editor Lou Stoppard, who studied History at Oxford University and now works alongside legendary photographer Nick Knight, interviewing some of the biggest names in fashion.
TEN / There is no finish line
In fact, this is just the beginning. It’s likely that you’ll still have the same amount of workload and stress levels as you did before, but it’s all about finding coping strategies to deal with these inevitable aspects of work life. Also, don’t forget that education continues outside of the classroom! Strive to constantly learn new things and develop your skills. I love sites such as Skillshare for taking short courses in areas such as video editing and even basic coding. Whilst improving my CV, I also feel a much more fulfilled and happier person for having learnt something new.
Words by Heather Ibberson
Artwork by Gabby Longmire