Case study

Junior fashion designer — Hope Fenney

Hope found that doing a year in industry during her fashion degree helped hone her skills and build up her network of contacts. Discover her top tips for getting a job as a designer

How did you get your job in fashion?

As part of my BA Hons Fashion with a sandwich year at the University of Central Lancashire, I did a year in industry where I worked in the ladieswear department at Matalan. When I went back to university to study for my final year I kept in contact with some of the people I'd worked with, and towards the end of my final year I saw that Matalan had advertised a job vacancy in the childrenswear department.

I applied for the junior girlswear and Candy designer role and then had to complete a design project and two interviews.

What's a typical day like?

My working day involves replying to emails from suppliers, researching new ideas and trends, range building with the buyers, and designing and completing tech packs to send to the factories.

What do you enjoy about your job?

I'm constantly learning new skills everyday and developing ones I already have. I love the travelling side of the job as well, as we're able to go to new cities for research.

The people are also one of the best things about the job. You have to be able to get on with the people you work with to make it a happy environment.

What are the challenges?

The main challenges are meeting deadlines and managing the workload. It's a very fast-paced industry and you always need to be on top of your workload, and know what is going to be the next big thing.

How relevant is your fashion degree?

All the skills that I gained during my degree have played a part in my current job role. The degree taught me the basics of all areas, which were then developed further during the industrial placement.

Where do you hope to be in five years?

I would like to have progressed from junior designer to designer. Taking on new challenges, developing my skills further and being recognised for this, would be amazing.

What advice can you give to others?

I would strongly recommend that you take a year out in industry as part of your degree. I feel that my year in industry has played a massive part in where I am today.

Also, try to make connections with people already in the industry. Stay in touch with people you meet on your placement as you never know when it can be helpful.

Finally, work your absolute hardest at university in every year, not just your final year, as everything that you put into your work will pay off in the long run and prepare you for industry.

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