Monday, December 19, 2011


Posted by Bethan Holt, Fashion Junior at Large

I've now been Fashion Junior for almost five months. When I was chatting with the FashEd the other day, it struck us both just how far I'd come. Six months ago, I was finishing my English degree and wondering what I would do with my life. Fashion Journalism had been my first choice of career ever since I saw a documentary about Anna Wintour, on a plane when I was 12- what a cliché.

I did my best to exploit my very few contacts in journalism as soon as I could and so got a couple of internships under my belt when I was still quite young. However, the gloomy picture which my university (a well-respected red brick) painted for me made me dedicate most of my third year to Plan B- The Graduate Scheme. That meant taking part in endless psychometric tests, assessment exercises which ranged from building a bridge made out of Lego with 10 other people to spending three hours dealing with a fictional earthquake. I got further than many with lots of the schemes which I applied for but fell at the final hurdle each time. So, I can well understand the frustration of young people looking for work who have slogged their way through a degree (a decent one does require considerable dedication, contrary to popular belief) as well as doing voluntary work, internships and taking up positions on committees of university societies but finding they STILL don't fit the bill.

Fashion Junior graduating!
All this meant that by the time I was tweaking the final essay of my academic career (further study was something I couldn't face) I was still not sure where my next pennies were coming from. I had joined Twitter as an observer, following people who tweeted about things which interested me. It became better procrastination than Facebook. So as I wrote about post-colonial interpretations of Shakespeare, My Fairy Twitter Mother, Melanie Rickey, tweeted that she needed an intern for a few weeks. I tweeted back and there began my astoundingly swift journey from unemployed graduate statistic to Fashion Junior at Large, a job which not only involves posting on this blog but also helping out the FashEd with all her other projects.

 Around 100 people applied for the job I have and I still have to pinch myself that I am the one who got it. I see internships and jobs advertised every day via Twitter. In fact, you should follow @katie_jane_rose because she is always retweeting opportunities.  You'd be stupid not to be on Twitter if you want a career in any industry which has embraced it. It is a unique chance to connect with the key people. I was very lucky to get a paid job straight away, I don't contest that and don't want to sound like a brat. I was gearing myself up for unpaid internships like many of my friends. I'm lucky that my parents live near enough to London  that I could have done that. It's a travesty that that fact is a prerequisite for gaining experience in capital-centric industries. Even doing paid work at weekends would do nothing to cover rent in London.

I wanted to write about this because I feel despair about the situation which so many people my age find themselves in. On Friday, Dazed ran the first of a series of interviews with young people about the unemployment they face entitled 'Wasted Youth'.Newspapers are full of gloomy stories about the situation with plenty of jobseekers willing to tell their stories; what's shocking and should send shivers done the spine of every person in this country is that these people range from 17 year olds who want to become plumbers and electricians to 24 year-olds with Masters degrees. No path or background is a guarantee any more.

But I do think we can be more positive and more savvy. I loved Celine Cavaillero's website which even made it onto after she recreated their site as her CV. At the time, everyone was talking about her and being entertained by her way of making herself stand out. I gather that since then she has landed a job with Yahoo in France.

But it's not all about gimmicks; I know I wouldn't have been offered my job with the FashEd had I not displayed considerable fashion geekiness. I gave an impassioned monologue about my love of Jonathan Saunders' AW11 collection. I was also able to explain who Ines de la Fressange and Diana Vreeland were. These people are not completely obscure but you do need to have been immersing yourself in fashion news and history to be able to answer.

So, if you are looking for a job in fashion I suggest you do hours of research, looking through the latest collections, reading about designers, see what Fashion Editors are talking about. Learn to make a fabulous cup of tea and think one step ahead of your potential employer (not always easy!). Be endlessly proactive. 'The harder you work, the luckier you get' a very wise editor I admire recently wrote and that could not be truer.

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