Work Life

Getting Ahead: Don’t Treat Work Like School

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Many young, talented individuals entering the dynamic world of the fashion industry often find themselves unintentionally falling into the trap of treating work like school. The misconception that technical skills alone are sufficient, coupled with the belief that hard work guarantees success, can hinder professional growth. As the saying goes, “What got you here, won’t get you there.” In this blog post, we’ll explore crucial aspects that differentiate the professional landscape from the academic one, offering valuable insights to help young fashion professionals thrive in their careers.

Collaboration is Key:

Unlike school, where success is often a solitary pursuit, the fashion industry thrives on collaboration. Your ability to succeed is intertwined with the support you receive from your boss, colleagues, and stakeholders. Building strong relationships and having influential advocates can significantly impact your career trajectory. Recognize the power of teamwork and actively seek opportunities to contribute to and benefit from a collaborative work environment.

Advocacy Matters:

In the professional realm, exceptional work alone doesn’t guarantee recognition. Unlike school, where professors assess your assignments and exams, the workplace requires active advocacy. Your work is unlikely to speak for itself; it needs champions. Cultivate relationships with those who can speak up for you and your contributions. Building a network of mentors and allies can amplify your impact and open doors to new opportunities.

Embrace Subjectivity:

In school, success often hinges on understanding and reproducing a lesson correctly. Conversely, the professional world is characterized by subjectivity. There isn’t always a single “right” answer, especially in the dynamic and creative field of fashion. When solving problems or charting the course of a project, embrace the diverse perspectives and solutions that arise. Learn to navigate ambiguity and contribute to the collaborative process of finding innovative solutions.

Learn Through Experience:

While textbooks play a crucial role in academic settings, the majority of learning in the fashion industry comes from hands-on experiences. The 70-20-10 model highlights that 70% of learning occurs through experiences and how we interpret them. Actively engage in diverse projects, challenges, and opportunities. Reflect on your experiences, extracting meaningful lessons that contribute to your professional growth. Remember, the most valuable knowledge often arises from the practical application of skills in real-world scenarios.


As you embark on your fashion career, it’s vital to shift your mindset from the academic approach to a more nuanced understanding of the professional landscape. Success in the fashion industry requires collaboration, advocacy, an appreciation for subjectivity, and an eagerness to learn from experiences. By embracing these differences, you’ll not only navigate your career more effectively but also position yourself for sustained success in the dynamic world of fashion. Remember, what worked in the classroom might not be the key to unlocking the doors of opportunity in your professional journey.

Chris Kidd is the owner of,,, and

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