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The fashion industry is a highly competitive one, and trying to get a job can be a tricky thing to get. These days, especially with how poorly the economy has been, retail sales have plummeted making it even more difficult for the recently graduated to make a career in fashion. A survey by Graduate Stats Australia highlighted the stats of December 2011 and displayed that, “76.6 per cent were in full time employment within 4 months of completing the degree”  (Grad Stats Australia, 2011). Although the statistics seem somewhat promising, many students seeking a career in a fashion are urged to do as much volunteer work and internships as possible.

After attending the Fashion Media seminar held by Prospect 360 earlier this year, many successful spokeswomen currently in the fashion industry gave a few tips of the trade and insight into the pathways to success.   Melissa Templeton, current PR manager for Myer Australia stated, “Get out and meet people. In our industry, we do literally meet hundreds of people a year, but do your best to remember people’s names”. This goes back to the golden saying that, ‘it’s not what you know but who you know’. Templeton explained that she had no tertiary experience nor any in PR, and that she worked her way up by starting a temp job at David Jones and working her way up from there. This could lead to the belief that higher education can be questionable when wanting to pursue a career in fashion or even media.

Greta Donaldson, founder of Prospect 360, a series of seminars to help young people get their foot in the door in the media industry set up in 2007 agrees with the “it’s not what you know but who you know” statement, but also believes education still holds value and importance in the media industry.

It appears as though some students are taking things a step further with their education in fashion. A student from the Whitehouse Institute of Design says, “Studying fashion design requires me to have the skills and knowledge to sketch garments properly as well as pattern making. Doing this gives me the head start over others that have not yet learnt the necessary skills”.

Casual academic teaching Communications and Creative Arts at Deakin University, Lara Hedberg is bias on the, ‘its not what you know but who you know’ statement and says, “The thing that you get from studying at a university level is an ability to have a level of credible thinking and awareness that I don’t think you can get just from industry work.”.

The general consensus on the matter seems to agree that it is who you know that will assist in getting your foot in the door, but having a degree to support your credibility is ideal.