I'm currently a college student taking the International Business program at Seneca College in Toronto. I wish to transfer to university next fall but I want to change to a program that is more fashion oriented. Do you think I should do something like retail management or stick to something like business management? I really would like to work in the fashion industry in the future but I don't know where to start.
Both programs would offer you a wealth of skills and knowledge. The question I would have for you is: What kind of role do you want to play in the fashion industry?
Retail management would provide an excellent foundation for understanding the business of buying and selling, understanding customer relations and service and the dynamics of managing a retail store. General areas of business management would also be covered, giving you a basic but important knowledge of how business works. If selling, buying and managing a retail store is drawing you to fashion, then this program would offer a very targeted approach to retail.
On the other hand, if managing a business or playing a strategic, vital role in one is your calling, then a comprehensive, all encompassing program in business management is what you are looking for. Learning about key decision-making, risk management, ethics and business strategy development and implementation equips you with valuable skills to apply in not only fashion retail, but also small and large design companies. You could also use these skills as an analyst in business fashion, perhaps providing an economic or sociological perspective to fashion houses.
Both programs, combined with some strategic networking and self-marketing, will offer many options for you to lend you talents in the fashion industry.
An additional approach to take is to talk directly with people in the fashion industry – people whose job you want some day. Find out how they got into the field, what training do they have and other contacts who can help you make such a key decision in your career. What were some of the obstacles they had to overcome to get where they are? Use your personal network, as well as online networks, such as LinkedIn, to find people to talk to.
You can also reach these people by seeing if someone in the industry is on the advisory board for the programs you are interested in. These advisory boards at colleges and universities are made up of influential business people in the field and they tend to be more than happy to help a student.
Although this is an important decision, it is not one to stress over for the next year. Research the field, talk with experts, and decide how you want to make a contribution to the fashion industry. This, combined with your gut feeling, will help you pick the right program to get you there.
Eileen Dooley is a certified coach and lead consultant for Cam McRae Consulting , an outplacement and career coaching firm located in Calgary.
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