Ask Kate: How Do I Avoid Working for ‘The Devil’?
Dear Kate - I’m about to graduate from fashion school and I can’t find a job with an ethical fashion company. The only jobs I see are with bigger, unethical fashion brands. How do I avoid working for the devil? – LM, Los Angeles
Congratulations, it’s great that you made it through school and now want to apply your knowledge working in ‘ethical fashion’! But first, you need two things: experience and money. And bigger fashion brands are the best place to find both.
As a recent graduate, the more experience you gain, the more marketable you will be in your career growth. Job site Monster.com advises,
New graduates too often focus on looking for the perfect job, instead of a first job. Especially in this economy, the first job should be about finding a position where you’ll learn a great deal.
And I couldn’t agree more. Big fashion brands, particularly fast fashion brands, have money and are able to hire young graduates straight out of school. Whereas smaller companies, like many ethical fashion brands, work on leaner budgets and usually need candidates with applicable experience.
It’s also helpful for you to learn how big brands work. You’ll be able to see what they are doing to be more sustainable and why they choose to focus in the areas they do. Almost every big brand has a corporate social responsibility department working on topics like: waste, water, workers, materials, etc. Plus, big brands have deep pockets to work on fixing complex supply chains in innovative ways. So working for a big brand will give you insight into methods and methodology towards sustainability that smaller brands might not be able to address or afford.
So rather than thinking of big brands as ‘the devil’, think of them as stepping stones in your career, giving you invaluable experience (and the paycheck you need to help pay back that student debt). Your first job might not feed your soul, but when it comes time to find your dream job, the fact that you will have great experience from a well known brand is a) going to help you get a job at a smaller brand (it rarely works the other way around) and b) give you great insight to share with your dream company.
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