Networking, getting to know those in the industry you’re interested in, and finding a way to make sure you career and job out of college is a lot to handle when you’re still in school trying to study, balance mental health, have a social life, and more. As someone who has been doing remote internships since my senior year of high school, is now running a small business, has a fashion blog, and is a content creator, not to mention a college student, I have had a pretty busy year. I would not take back anything and I love all that I have accomplished and achieved because it has shaped me into who I am today and I wouldn’t have had all the opportunities I do now if I didn’t get out of my comfort zone and learn how to push into a world of business that I was totally new to.
Although I may still be a beginner in this world of networking, I have learned so much that I want to share with others who may be in the same spot that I was in last year when it comes to finding how you can advance to the next stage of your life in a professional industry. Here are 5 tips that I would recommend if you’re just starting out in getting to know people in your topic of interest, or simply just want to educate yourself more.
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1. Create A Business Profile
When I first realized that fashion was what I wanted to study in college, I knew that I had to take a step right away while I was a senior in high school and begin to collect as much experience as I can (even if it was remotely) so that I can have a proper resume and at least some sort of foundation before I began university. I watched hours worth of Youtube videos, read so many different articles, and listened to dozens of podcasts to find any information I can on how to apply for internships, projects I can start to begin networking, small business ideas, and more. With COVID hitting in March 2020, this gave me even more time on the side to do as much research as I could and do it all from the comfort of my home.
One day, I looked up on Youtube “how to get an internship in fashion” and this one video was the one that lead to me to taking the first step in my career. She said before you begin doing anything, make a LinkedIn profile and start from there. It seems like a small step but if you use LinkedIn correctly, the amount of connections and people can meet or chat with through there is incredible. Almost anyone from any company or job you can think of has a LinkedIn profile and if you send them a connect request (Connect is what you call a ‘friend request’ on LinkedIn so every person who has a LinkedIn profile will say ‘connect’ in the corner) and they accept it, you will be given the chance to chat with them and hopefully they will answer.
Right away I made a LinkedIn profile, put a photo of myself that was the closest I could find to as “professional” and then filled up my profile with information from my internships, old jobs I’ve had, my skills, etc. I started sending connection requests to anyone I could and would message anyone as well. The first step to getting yourself out there though definitely starts through LinkedIn and it is super underrated to many who don’t use to correctly.
2. Have a Business Email
Before you reach out to anybody and begin looking for who you may be able to connect with in your industry, create a separate email that you will only use for business purposes. This was another tip that I just decided to do along the way of my journey because I didn’t want my emails for business related inquiries to get mixed up with the ones from my spam or promotion emails from those stores that I shop at. So I created another gmail account where I know I will be able to send and receive emails strictly for business, campaigns for Instagram, or opportunities for my blog.
This is also going to be an email that has to have a more professional name than your regular personal email. My personal one has numbers on it compared to my business one which is just my first, middle, and last name. No numbers, no nicknames, none of that. Go to google and create a new gmail or any other website that you prefer your email to be under.
I would also recommend putting this email on the bio of your LinkedIn profile if you’re looking to work with certain people and you may want them to reach out to you. For example, I have my business email in my Instagram bio since I am a content creator and blogger so if brands ever want to work with me or send me a sample of their product for a blog post or content, they can easily reach out and it’s faster.
3. Reaching Out to People
This was what I was most afraid to do because at the time when I was first starting to have a business profile online, I wasn’t sure at ALL how to approach anyone, write an email, or even chat professionally. It was a whole new world to me. But practice makes perfect and slowly I would message back anyone who would connect with me on LinkedIn and say thanks for connecting and I’d love to chat in the future. Anything along those lines just saying thank you and being nice is always a great start .
I remember hearing someone say before that you should message people from your university through LinkedIn or email, or anyone who is an alumni from your school and is working now in the field you want to study so you can ask them questions about how they got to where they are now.
Immediately, I went on LinkedIn, typed in “Fashion Institute of Technology” and found so many students, professors, and people who have graduated from there. I found a student who was a senior while I was entering as a freshman in September 2020 and I asked him this:
To my surprise, he did respond the same day and then we started chatting. He gave me his email and said that I can send over any information and questions I want to talk to him about through there and he created a Google Doc answering every single one which was so incredibly nice. We had also both began our small businesses around the same time so I reached out again and told him congrats and I wish him the best and he had said that this message really made his day, he wanted to give me a huge congrats, said that by my networking skills and my background, he knew I was really smart young girl and to not let anyone stop my grind. He also encouraged me to reach out to him whenever I need business, internship, friendship advice, or anything because he knows how tough freshman is.
If I would have never reached out to him back in September, I would’ve never had made this connection, or had even received these words of encouragement if I didn’t take this extra step. You don’t even have to reach out to people your age either or anyone who goes to your school. You can find anyone who is the field you’re looking to start a career in for the future and message them to ask them any question you may have as to how they got to this point in their career, gained experience, got their first job, etc.
4. Start a Passion Project
During the summer of 2020, I knew that I was going to be a freshman in college in the fall but I had noting credible about me that proved how much I loved fashion as I was going into a fashion college. That was when I decided as well that something had to change and I really wanted to have a project which was something I could work on to truly express myself, what I’m passionate about, and use it to build and network myself in the fashion / social media industry. That was when I began this blog that you’re reading right now called Glamour and Guide. I have received so many opportunities big and small all because I started this blog and I have gotten the chance to not only work with brands but also receive products to do collaborations and interview people.
This is your sign to take the extra step and put in your time plus effort to starting a passion project and seeing where it can flourish and become a year from now. I started my blog with under $100 and I’ve been able to grow it. If there is something you are passionate about and love, I would recommend seeing if there’s a way that you can turn it into a side business or even make some extra money on the side from it because why not! Even if you don’t make extra income from it, you can always just do it for fun and build it up.
From my blog alone, I haven’t collected a single check from ads because you have to make a certain amount before you can pay it out so I haven’t had the chance to do that yet BUT when I do have people reach out to me for sponsorships and partnerships on my Instagram, I have been able to make extra money on the side from there. This was all because I knew how much I loved content creation and wanted to take it seriously.
A lot of people believe that internships need to be done in person or in an office. I have completed 5 internships alone from my computer just being in my house. It isn’t as hard as it seems and no one usually asks if you completed it online or in person. I made a blog post over the summer all about everything I have learned from remote internships and then an ultimate guide on how to get an internship in the fashion industry if you would like to read them and get a reference on where to begin.
I would watch hours worth of Youtube videos all about how to start, the best platforms to apply, what I need to apply, and more. I have only ever use Indeed and LinkedIn to get internships and I have applied through other platforms but I have never gotten accepted through those. I would highly recommend doing one though even if it’s for 3 months because you can collect some experience and see if you like what you are learning about through the internship. The ones that I have previously done include, SEO, Social Media Marketing, Social Media Specialist, Editorial Writing, and Content Writing! I have loved all of them and they have definitely helped me because without those skills, I wouldn’t have had most of my knowledge that I did to start my blog. I learned how to conduct internships, use Zoom, how to email people, and more.
Here is a list of some places you can apply for internships if you’re looking to get started: Indeed, LinkedIn, Handshake, Glassdoor, Internships.com, InternQueen, and more! It does require some extra time so don’t do it if you know that within the first week you are going to get sick of it. I was doing these internships since the middle of my senior year of high school and was able to balance it with school and my personal life because I knew that in the end this was going to benefit me which it has immensely!
I wish you all luck to who is reading this and that you are not only able to find what you are passionate about, but that you can become someone successful (whichever your definition of success is) and that you can accomplish anything you set your mind to! Some may judge you along the way and try to stop you from getting to where you want to be or the person you want to become, but just know that by doing some of what I have listed in this blog post, you are already one step ahead of everyone. Good luck!