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I know how you’re feeling: pre-application nerves, interview preparation and no time to relax over Christmas. Approaching university applications and portfolio deadlines are unavoidable but they don’t have to be as stressful as they are made out to be. Yes, they’re important and take great precision, planning and effort, but avoidable stress should be something to stay clear of.

What was a time when I allowed my nerves to get the better of me actually turned out to be just OK. I remember the worry of preparing possible interview answers, going through every draw for that winning outfit and arriving an hour early in case I happened to miss it. Now, three years later, I look back and wonder why I caused myself the unnecessary hype. 


What shall I wear? A question so many fashion students prioritise over honing in on perfecting their portfolio. Of course first impressions matter, so look smart, but your outfit won’t get you on the course- your work will. So plan something comfortable- wear what defines you, but most importantly, know your stuff. Especially during the interview (I had a group interview), you could clearly see those who hadn’t prepared (and those who had). 

Believe me, there’s nothing to be scared about. The whole aim of the interview is to get to know you, see your work and what you’re passionate about. Use it as a time to show what you can do. Since there are likely to be many students, think of how you can present your portfolio in a different and unique way. You want to stand out- be remembered. 


Your portfolio is your own personal space to present what you’re most proud of. Be creative with it, because after all, this is a creative university. I spent the Christmas before my interview prepping and finalising my portfolio, filling it with articles I had written and various editorial shoots I did. Planning ahead is key- if you are thinking of applying (or already have), then I suggest sitting down to compile how you will present your work- it also makes it clearer to see if you need to do any more. 

Don’t be deceived to think that you need loads of work- it’s quality over quantity.  If you’ve only got a few pieces, but they are of a high quality and you can proudly present them, then that is enough. Present to whatever standard you feel to be enough. And remember, every course is different. I got worried seeing people with huge art books and clothes they had designed, but I was applying for journalism, so how I presented my work varied from other courses. 


Before you apply, research your course. Be sure that you are confident that it’s right for you, and that it’s a place where you will be able to succeed. The same goes for your interview: unexpected questions will be fired away, so know what your course entails and about the industry you are stepping into. If you happen to be applying for Fashion Journalism, you will be asked about publications, the rise of the digital world, and current news. There’s no reason to be nervous, however you must learn about your industry before stepping into the interview. It will help, and make you stand out! 


Use the summer before you start university to try and gain some experience. I began with contributing and writing to smaller websites before I landed the internships I wanted. You might not always find the dream place you’re after, but if you stay persistent, and take every opportunity (small or large) it will pay off. Some students wait until second or even third year to gain industry experience, but I say the earlier you start the better. Most courses at UCA do offer you work experience, which is embedded into a unit, however starting to compile your CV with any experience earlier on will make landing that internship easier. 

I highly recommend Fashion Workie for internships, jobs and endless opportunities in a wealth of industry paths. From editorial experience to fashion design and PR, Fashion Workie is one of the best sites to help you look for work that will start you off. I found all my opportunities and internships there on the site, and I continue to apply for various jobs through the promotion of their site. Even though unpaid work doesn’t seem appealing, the earlier you start, the sooner you will find yourself working in your dream job. 


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