Despite misconceptions, fashion degrees are good for more than design

Studying fashion in college can lead to many career opportunities after graduation despite common misconceptions about the industry. Credit: Julianne Kerver I Lantern archive photo

Earning a college degree can be daunting regardless of degree earned, but with misunderstandings about the opportunities a fashion degree offers, life after college can seem particularly uncertain for fashion students.

Caroline Farrell, a fourth-year major in marketing and fashion and retail studies, said people sometimes have negative associations with fashion degrees, such as doing a lot of work for little pay. However, the Ohio State Fashion and Retail Studies program is designed to prepare students for the industry through opportunities within the university and the chance to gain real-world experience before graduation.

“I think there’s definitely a stigma about being underpaid or overworked in the fashion industry, and it’s not a very sustainable industry either,” Farrell said. “If it’s something you’re passionate about, it’s never a waste of time.”

Studying fashion in college can lead to an array of career opportunities after graduation, said Alexandra Suer, lecturer in fashion and retail studies. With a fashion degree, students can choose from many different career paths, ranging from design to the business side of industry.

“With our program, in particular, merchandising — so becoming merchants or buyers — is probably tops,” Suer said. “Many of them will likely fall into production and supply roles, thus doing a lot of things, like logistics and costing of all product components. Finally, product development is where where I can see many of them falling.

For students wishing to further their knowledge in the field of fashion, adding a minor in business or communication is a useful way to deepen the degree, Pete Rex, director adviser at the College of Education and Human Ecology, said.

“Any time you can add, you know, additional academic experience in something like business, that’s going to be helpful,” Rex said. “It will be a good talking point during interviews and skills that can be used on a day-to-day basis by the workforce. It is definitely something that can grab someone’s attention as they enter the early stages of their career.

Earning a fashion degree in Ohio State requires an internship, and Rex said Columbus is home to big fashion companies, such as fashion brand Express, where Suer previously worked, and smaller ones. businesses and shops.

Getting the most out of student organizations while in college is also a good way to gain fashion experience and bond, Suer said. Joining the Fashion Production Association of Ohio State while in college encouraged her to switch careers from architecture to fashion.

“I, you know, ended up changing careers. It was thanks to a student organization that really opened my eyes,” Suer said. “I think being involved in student organizations just relies on that networking and relies on figuring out who you are, your happiness, and what you want your future to look like.”

Farrell said she recently accepted a job offer as an assistant buyer for Ross Dress For Less in New York, which she said she was largely able to get through internships and networking. done at the university.

“I know it sounds clichéstar, but it’s the best way to get any job,” Farrell said. “Really use the guest speakers who come as well. They are more than willing to help, and that’s how I got my internship for last summer. Also, the teachers are so caring that if you stay after class and talk to them, they are also very connected.

Networking opens doors to new and unexpected opportunities, and Suer said it was the reason she was able to get a job as a colorist and textile technologist at Express.

“Building relationships and connecting with people can really help you,” she said. “The retail world is much smaller than you might think. It starts to become a small family and people all know each other.

Suer said that despite popular beliefs that a degree in fashion isn’t as useful or lucrative as other fields, fashion students can earn competitive salaries after graduation and the industry is growing. constant growth.

“It’s a big, big industry, and I mean, a multi-billion dollar industry. It’s not going away. Everybody has to wear clothes. Everybody wants to feel good about themselves,” he said. Suer said “I think students who have this degree, the world is their oyster.”

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