I was talking to a student last week who had just graduated from a fashion diploma course here in Vancouver. She is very talented, but I struggled to tell her what to do to get her career started. The options are more education, internships, or trying to get an entry-level position, but there is so much competition in this market, that I said luck would play a big role in determining whether she would get her foot through the right door.
On top of that, she had a lot of student loans. I meet many students, who have upwards of $50,000 in loans, but leave a fashion school with less than a degree (a diploma) from a virtually unknown school, and few prospects. What is crazy is that this isn’t exclusive to the fashion industry, as there are so many fields where this is happening.
I studied for one year in Vancouver, one year in France, and for one and a half years in London, but somehow managed to walk away with an MA from the most prestigious fashion design school in the world. I had accumulated about $20-30K in debt (not to mention what I owed my parents…), but that seemed worth it for the education I had received. Owing $50K in debt, without having a degree or an MA, is another story. I am still paying off my student loans, and I have earned pretty decently in the past few years, so I can’t even begin to imagine how many students today, particularly those who finish an education with less than a degree, will pay off their debts before they retire.
The moral of the story here is not “don’t study fashion” because if it is what you really, really, REALLY want to do, then you should do it. But think about the debt you’ll accumulate and the job prospects. I get scared when I talk to students sometimes… How the hell does a twenty three year old deal with $50K of debt, and no clear plan on how they will earn the money to pay it off? It is terrifying.
On that note, there are a lot of very talented, motivated people out there who will get themselves great jobs, rewarding careers, and easily pay off their debts. But they aren’t the ones I worry about.
Tomorrow I am going to write a post about important things to consider when deciding to pursue a career in fashion. Check back then!
Catwalk images from Style.com.