Work experience in fashion can be one of the most challenging positions to find. It’s a simple equation of supply and demand and unfortunately there are often not enough opportunities to go around. Imagine boosting your chances? Here is my advice!
Most fashion businesses (head office) have a work experience program for students either in the Senior School years or for fashion students. Work experience tends to be either in a one week or sequence of days or a day a week for a number of months. Either way you need to consider that although the company is getting an ‘extra pair of hands’ for no financial outlay it can be a disruption to the business. This is why you may often find fashion businesses are negative when you pluck the courage to make the call.
Let’s give you a better opportunity for success… Plan your work experience and never leave it to the last minute to scout for opportunities. Many companies have a work experience booking system with bookings required at least a few months before you will commence. Some very popular brands book the whole year out from approaches made in January!
When you call you should ask for the human resources department. If the company doesn’t have one; then ask to speak to the person in charge of recruitment. If your call can’t be put through ask confidently for the name and email address of the person in charge of recruitment. Some companies may not disclose email addresses so send a letter.
You can expect, at head office level to secure an opportunity in design, production, buying, administration or purchasing. Some companies have warehouse work experience I would be a little wary of warehouse work experience if you have not chosen a career in this department.
Now, and most importantly, you need to have prepared some information before you make the call or send the letter. You are asking for the company to give you an insight into their business to assist you with your career. They want to know that even though it is unpaid work experience that they are offering the role to someone sharp and bright! In your letter or conversation you need to be clear about your availability and flexible about the area in the business that you would like to work in. For example the most popular division for work experience is undoubtedly design. Don’t pin your hopes on work experience in the design division. It will boost your knowledge and expand your understanding if you work in other departments. The insight you will gain by understanding the intricacy of departments who lead into design will make you better in the design department in the long run. Employers love it when work experience prospects are keen but demonstrate flexibility.
Don’t be disheartened if you feel you are hitting a brick wall. There are many ways to make your self known and sometimes it may take a few different communication methods to get through. Always maintain a positive outlook on the phone even if you haven’t managed to pass home base (the receptionist). It is my strong belief that you can build a rapport with just about anyone and the receptionist may just put in a good word for you if you strike a good empathy with them.
Okay, back to the letter. Make it short and to the point. Include the following information; availability, preferred department (but be flexible), your present studies and the institution and your ultimate career goals (if you have decided!). And one other thing; ensure the contact details that you provide are your best contact avenues. When a company can’t contact you they will simply go to the next person. Even if you leave the number of a parent or friend as an alternative and advise them to expect a call you have a better chance of securing a role. For work experience students who are still at school you will need to arrange an insurance certificate or guardian authority so be prepared when it is asked for.
Once you have gained your work experience opportunity you need to follow some golden rules! Be reliable, always dress appropriately to the company’s dress code and absorb like a sponge! It is my strong belief that making an amazing impression in work experience can lead to incredible opportunities once you have graduated. Oh and one last thing, always write a letter of thanks. It is amazing how much a thank you creates a positive anchor in people’s minds. Make a great impression and good luck!