Taking a Risk

I left Moulton four years ago to study Fashion Marketing at the University of Southampton. Originally, I'd planned to study Business because it was the A level I enjoyed most and the one I was best at and because I thought it was the course that would leave me with the most options once I graduated. However, the aspect of business I really enjoyed was marketing.

I'd always been interested in fashion, but I knew the fashion industry was very competitive, so I worried that if I did a fashion degree, I would struggle to get a job afterwards. I thought that my options would be limited by having such a specialised degree. However, I spoke to one of my Business teachers, who queried why I wanted to study business when it was only really the marketing element that interested me. They asked me what else I was truly passionate about and when I said fashion, they told me about courses where you could combine marketing and fashion. This hadn't really crossed my mind before, but when I read information about the course I knew it would be perfect and that I'd enjoy it much more than a standard business studies degree. 

People also reassured me that I wouldn't be turned down from marketing jobs simply because I had a fashion marketing degree. However, if it was fashion that I wanted to get into, this would improve my chances of getting into the industry a lot. Also, I thought that if I do a degree I'm passionate about, I will be much more likely to gain a good grade as I'll be more motivated.

I absolutely loved my degree course. I studied modules in topics like digital fashion marketing and fashion promotion and each module required me to create an illustrated portfolio of work rather than sit an exam. We also created mood boards and had to do presentations. This therefore involved creative skills, much more so than if I'd have done a business course. I even had to complete a Career Planning module about preparing for life after university. We had to write a CV, create a Wordpress blog featuring our work, create a LinkedIn account, and have a mock interview which we were marked on. This helped prepare me so much for when I graduated and began applying for jobs and had interviews. I believe having these skills, which I wouldn't have gained on a business course, helped me gain fashion internships and my current job, as it put me at an advantage. 

My final major project was chosen to represent the University of Southampton, along with around 15 other people at Graduate Fashion Week, an international fashion event for graduating students . This was a great opportunity to showcase my work and make contacts. Our lecturers were great at making the most of their contacts in order to benefit us during our studies. We had the opportunity to have exclusive tours around fashion houses during our visit to Paris. We were invited to a Burberry presentation about their marketing methods at their London headquarters. We also had lots of people from the fashion industry to come in to give us lectures and seminars. 

Having graduated last year, I'm now a brand co-ordinator in the makeup team at Avon, within the European brand marketing department. I'm involved with the new product development process which involves working with suppliers and clients all over Europe. It is extremely varied and requires a high level of motivation, but since I am passionate about beauty I enjoy it. There are lots of perks of the job - I attend interesting meetings about innovative new makeup ideas, I have been on a shopping trip to analyse competitors' products and I've had supplier meetings which involved testing makeup products! 

I am keen to eventually work my way up to where I would be more involved with coming up with the new product ideas, but working as a coordinator within the marketing department is allowing me to learn so much on the job. 

Since fashion marketing involves beauty too, I know that my degree course put me at an advantage for this job. Before this job I had several internships in the fashion industry, and after hiring me my bosses said that the knowledge & skills that I'd learnt during university were impressive and very relevant. Without my degree I would have been unlikely to have gained such good internships, and without the degree and experience combined, it would have been unlikely that I'd have got this job role at Avon.

My advice to anyone considering a more specialist degree course is if it is something you're passionate about and you think you could do well in, then go for it! You're much more likely to be motivated to work hard if you're studying something you enjoy, which therefore means you'll enjoy the university experience much more and you're likely to get a better grade. When I was researching for my university projects, it often didn't feel like work as I was so interested in what I was learning about - my tutors even noticed how enthusiastic I was and awarded me the most engaged learner award for my course! 

It is unlikely that employers will reject you just because you've decided to go for a niche course if you change your mind about what career you want after uni. But studying a niche course that you're passionate about will provide you with better skills and knowledge that will put you in a much better position if you decide it's the right career path for you after university. In a competitive environment, it will make you stand out from everyone else.