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Running Head: From Classroom to Design Room

From Classroom to Design Room: The Transitional Experience of the Fashion Design Graduate by Steven Faerm

Mentor: Nina Jensen

Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements of Master of Science in Education Bank Street College of Education 2012


Abstract From Classroom to Design Room: The Transitional Experience of the Fashion Design Graduate by Steven Faerm

This study examines the transitional experience of fashion design graduates as they move from academia into professional practice through the lenses of recent graduates, established professionals, educators, academics, and undergraduate program structures. This study also considers the future of fashion design education and what kind of undergraduate experience might best prepare graduates to transition into the industry. The literature review examines design in society, fashion design education, developmental attributes of young adults, mentorship, and undergraduates’ preparation for the professional world. Through focus groups with professional designers and educators, professional conferences, an online survey of recent graduates, the college experience, and the evolving industry, the graduates' experience is contextualized. This study aims to provide fashion design educators and program directors with awareness for how they can improve their students' preparation for entry into professional practice.


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Table of Contents

I.

Introduction………………………………………………………………………………3

II.

Literature Review……………………………………………………………………..…5 Design in Society………………………………………………………………….6 Fashion Design Education……………………………...…………..…..…....……8 Developmental Attributes of Young Adults……………………………..………16 Mentorship……………………………...………………………………..………19 The College Experience…………………………………………….……………19 Preparation for the Professional World…………………………………....…….21 Summary of the Literature Review…...………………………………………….23

III.

Methodologies…………………………………………………………………………...26

IV.

Findings………………………………………………………………………………….28 Pre-College Experiences…………………………………………..….…..……...28 The College Experience and Graduate Attributes………………………...…..…30 Internships……………………………………………………………….……….32 Support Systems for the Transition Experience……………………..…...………37 Unexpected Challenges………………………………………………..…....……40 Evolving Professional Goals………………………………………….…..…...…44

V.

Data Interpretations…………………………………………………………..……..…47

VI.

Conclusion………………………………………………………………………………52


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VII.

List of References………………………………………………………………………59

VIII.

Appendices……………………………………………………………………..………63 A. Online Survey………………………….…………………………………..………65 B. ..Focus Groups………………………………………………………….…………101 C. Conferences………………………………………………………………….……113 D. Five Year Program Models……………….………………………………….……119

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Introduction Today's fashion design graduates are facing a rapidly evolving and highly volatile professional landscape. The fashion design industry's uncertain future, the number of schools that are rethinking their long-standing philosophies of design education, and the heightened demands placed on designers are affecting the graduates’ transitional experience from academia into professional practice. What are the challenges experienced by graduates during their first three years in the field? In what ways is design education evolving, and how is its evolution reshaping designers’ roles? How can design schools prepare graduates for their new roles as young professionals? This study explores the transitional experience of fashion design graduates through a variety of lenses while considering the future of fashion design education and the evolving industry. As an Assistant Professor in the Undergraduate Fashion Design Program at Parsons The New School for Design (formerly Director, 2007-2011), I have taught hundreds of fashion design students. These graduates have had a wide range of experiences during their initial three years of professional work. For some, the transition into the industry was fluid, while for others it was filled with many unexpected surprises. The purpose of my former students’ undergraduate education was to provide a solid foundation and fluid transition into professional practice; unfortunately, however, not all graduates made the shift easily. The graduates' entrance into the industry has been further affected by rapidly changing practices in design education. The majority of American fashion design education programs are reexamining their current structures and practices in order to respond to several circumstances. These include an industry that is changing at an unprecedented rate, an evolving student generation, and a new set of skills and abilities demanded by the profession. Fashion design education is attempting to address these challenges by placing greater emphasis on "design thinking" and conceptual processes in order to produce designers who can understand broader contexts, create innovative new products, and rethink business systems. How will these new emphases affect the graduates’ entrance into the field? Will the new approach to education improve their transitional experience, or will additional support structures be needed? How do internships contribute to the graduates' professional preparation? How can educators consider the roles internships play within this new academic framework? It is incumbent upon fashion design educators to prepare students with the knowledge and skills they need to enter the field successfully. The importance of examining the quality of preparation becomes particularly meaningful when that landscape is rapidly evolving and its future directions remains uncertain. Research into graduates’ pre-college, undergraduate, and early professional experiences must be conducted if future fashion design students are to be well educated and prepared for a successful entry into the professional landscape. By raising awareness in these areas, program directors and educators will be better informed about how to advance fashion design education and thus prepare graduates for a rapidly evolving practice.


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Literature Review The young adults’ transition from academia into the fashion design practice can be better understood by examining key areas that surround and impact undergraduate fashion design studies and their graduate’s first three-years working in the industry. They include the impact of design in contemporary society, fashion design education and speculations for future evolution, the developmental attributes of young adults, the importance of mentorship, the college experience, and the young adults’ preparation for the professional world. Collectively, these areas greatly inform, prepare, and affect the fashion design students’ transition from the classroom to the design room. Design In Society In the words of Virginia Postrel (2003), "we are increasingly engaged in making our world special through design" (p.7). Fashion design has achieved such attention that it has entered the museum environment with one notable example being the retrospective of Giorgio Armani's work shown at The Guggenheim Museum in New York City. Around the world, increasing numbers of urban centers are hosting their own fashion weeks that are state sponsored "and therefore represent the commercial and cultural interests of the respective country" (Loschek, 2008). The prevalence of design is underscored by such mainstream retailers as Kohl's, H&M, and Target hosting top designers such as Karl Largerfeld, Vera Wang, Comme des Garcons, and Isaac Mizrahi who offer "guest star" collections (Pink, 2005). Due to an ever-increasing demand for “designed” objects, rates of production and consumption are reaching unimagined heights. The Spanish retailer Zara has approximately two hundred designers who develop forty thousand styles each year, of which twelve thousand are produced (Seigel, 2011). The production cycle for the Swedish retailer H&M, design-to-retail, is just three weeks and involves a highly choreographed network of chain management around the world (Seigel, 2011). This surge in garment-making has direct relation to consumption; consumers now demand roughly four times the number of garments that we did in 1980, and the same quantity that we buy will be discarded each year (Siegel, 2011). These high levels of production, consumption, and disposal have shaped consumers' psychology and the relation to design. Due to abundance, design is no longer driven by need (Van der Velden, 2006). As Daniel Pink (2005) describes in his book A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future: Abundance has satisfied, and even over-satisfied, the material needs of millions— boosting the significance of beauty and emotion and accelerating individuals' search for meaning. As more of our basic needs are met, we increasingly expect sophisticated experiences that are emotionally satisfying and meaningful. (p. 46) Maslow’s hierarchy of needs elaborates on this idea by stating one's nonmaterial yearnings increase when one’s material needs are met. The designer's role is evolving due to the new demands consumers will place on products that have greater aesthetic value. Material abundance has made designers realize that the only way to differentiate their products in today’s overstocked marketplace is to make their offerings aesthetically


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appealing and emotionally compelling (Pink, 2005). In order to create products that resonate emotionally with their targeted audience, designers must become empathizers, pattern recognizers, and meaning-makers (Pink, 2005). To support this new approach to design, many believe the design industries are evolving from a “product-centered practice” to a "knowledge-based economy." The future of our design practices is to "produce ideas and design solutions that demand a high level of education, skills, and creativity" (Skjold, 2008). Yet this future has migrated manufacturing from domestic centers, such as New York’s Garment Center, to overseas locations. When manufacturing is no longer part of the Garment Center and just design remains, the designer’s role evolves in a larger global context. When evolving into this role, fashion designers emphasize the critical need for creativity and innovation in order to inspire consumers who are inundated with commercial offerings and desire emotionally satisfying and meaningful products. As the leader for producing fashion design, New York City has more fashion establishments than anywhere else in America (The Municipal Art Society of New York [MASNY], 2011). Through the stylish and “off the rack” creations of Claire McCardell, Norman Norell and Bill Blass, among many others, the city became an international leader. The industry's abundance of fashion design houses is evident by the 270 fashion presentations held during Fashion Week in February of 2012 attended by over 100,000 industry professionals (Berry, 2012). Despite such quantities, the city’s Garment Center has been radically reduced from its former status as the single biggest employer in the city (Pinkerson & Levin, 2009). Traditional fashion production centers, such as those in New York and Milan, are being vacated due to the availability of less expensive production facilities overseas (Gill, 2008). The percentage of American clothing made in the USA has declined from 95% in 1965 to 5% in 2009 (Pinkerson & Levin, 2009). Fashion Design Education The German state school The Bauhaus (1919-1933) strongly influenced the primary structure for American art and design higher education (Marshall, 2009). The Bauhaus's mission was to promote "the integration of artistic and practical pedagogy, aesthetics and applied skills to produce artists and designers who can participate as creative individuals in the professional working world, becoming part of society and contributing as a group to the greater good of Germany" (Wax, 2010, p. 23). As duplicated by many of America's leading fashion design programs, Bauhaus students were encouraged to learn design principles "by doing and making," and studied various art and design fundamentals before progressing to a chosen design specialization (Marshall, 2009). In order to provide this education, faculty were active, practicing artists and designers who imparted their expertise by placing emphasis on how things were made in the contemporary practice (Wax, 2010). For many American design schools, such as Parsons The New School for Design, the academic mission was originally aligned with The Bauhaus and based on a vocational, tradeoriented activity driven by industry (Wolff & Rhee, 2009) and taught by active professionals. Other leading institutions, such as The Fashion Institute of Technology, were launched with government support to supply the growing post-war American apparel industry’s need for highly qualified labor (MASNY, 2011). Contemporary fashion design education is centered on building practical skills and creativity that prepare students for entry into the practice.


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Program structures vary across American design schools; students either enter a four year fashion design program directly or are required first to complete a "Foundation Year," where they learn the fundamental skills and principles of general art and design before entering three years of dedicated fashion design studies. Upon entering the major, emphasis is placed on building the skills associated with the practice, such as pattern making, garment construction, designing fashion “collections,” and understanding the various markets. The advanced semesters challenge students to refine their design processes and aesthetics through theory- and skill-based design assignments. To augment the academic experience, some programs engage professional brands or visiting designer critics to work with the students on designated projects; while these experiences complement the contextual learning outcomes, they also offer important insights into the professional experience. Fashion design curriculum is typically framed by the core studio courses of fashion design and garment construction that are taught throughout the undergraduate levels; these are supported by required liberal studies and discipline-related subjects such as digital design, textiles, drawing, business, knitwear, and other courses that support students’ individual goals. Semester-abroad programs allow students to engage in other forms of design pedagogy and foreign fashion industries. The capstone experience of the undergraduate education is the development of a graduate portfolio and fashion collection that showcases the student’s abilities and launches them into the industry. Most graduates enter the industry immediately following graduation and secure positions as Assistant Designers. For some of these professionals, graduate studies in such areas as business, fashion history, and fashion design are undertaken in order to advance professionally or to enter a related area of greater interest. As the world demands better solutions for concerns such as environmental sustainability, educators are providing opportunities for students to become future "agents of change" by creating curricula and design projects that interface with social and civic organizations. For example, fashion design students at Pratt Institute created hospice uniforms for Visiting Nurse Service's Haven Hospice Specialty Care Unit (Dennis, 2011), and students at California College of the Arts (CCA) visited Guatemala to design within cultural contexts and learn issues of sustainability, market conditions, and fair trade principles. As some have asserted, the design school's mission is "...to foster a new generation of designer-citizens: productive, engaged, inventive businesspeople, policy makers, and community activists, many of whom also make beautiful and useful things" (Wolff & Rhee, 2011, p. 12). The field of art and design education is preparing for this new landscape by rethinking the role future designers will play (Wax, 2010). Academia has begun to question how it can prepare students. What new skill sets will be needed for the shifting professional landscape? How can our programs and graduates prepare for a future that is so highly unpredictable? This unpredictable future is largely due to how globalized the fashion industry has become; the world is becoming smaller, as Tom Friedman's book The World is Flat (2005) describes. In today’s design room, a designer might hail from Belgium, design for a German brand, present work bi-annually in Milan, and sell to stores in Asia, as was the case of Raf Simmons who designed for the label Jil Sander. Therefore, it is necessary for fashion designers to become increasingly educated in the nuances of the expanding global markets, sub-cultures, available resources, and technologies. As a result, higher education curricula are becoming increasingly influenced by ethical issues, philosophy, innovative technology,


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and an increasing sensitivity to environmental issues and different cultures (Marshall, 2009). By infusing curricula with relevant information in these areas, programs aim to prepare design graduates so they can succeed in the evolving global industry while having an ability to synthesize their fashion practice with other disciplines in order to innovate products. Examples of successful interdisciplinary design include the collaborations between Marc Jacobs and the artists Richard Prince and Takashi Murakami at Louis Vuitton, and Nike’s LZR Racer bodysuit that was created through advanced computer software. The practice of fashion design is no longer the siloed vocation it once was, but is now understood to be a link that greatly impacts local and global economies, and the environment. Many American design schools are offering or considering multi- and inter-disciplinary studies where the process of research and development engages analytical thinking as the primary learning objective (Palomo-Lovinski & Faerm, 2009). Parsons The New School for Design recently created the graduate program Transdisiplinary Design in which students of diverse backgrounds work as design teams in specialized areas of Urban, Sustainability, The Social, and Systems. Other schools are adopting interdisciplinary models in hopes that they may become the defining logic for the whole institution (Marshall, 2009). In the 21st century, emphasis on design process is being increasingly utilized across disciplines as a thinking tool that can be applied to sustainable design, business systems, and a host of other fields (Marshall, 2009). According to Laetitia Wolff and Jen Rhee (2009) at Parsons the New School for Design: Design is no longer just a vocational, trade-oriented activity driven by industry, as described in Parsons' founding mission, but rather a methodology with potential application to almost any kind of problem—the focus has shifted from object to process or system. (p.10) Tim Marshall, Provost of The New School and former Dean of Parsons, encourages a shift from building students' rudimentary skills in a specific design area towards a design pedagogy that values the core qualities inherent in the design process: the ability to collaborate and communicate, a capacity for empathy, an ability to articulate design insights to those in other fields, and the capability to act strategically (Wolff & Rhee, 2009). As Joel Towers, Executive Dean of Parsons, states that "there are moments when this narrowness [of academic study] makes sense, when the specificity of expertise is necessary. But we're at a moment where the issues we're trying to address—their complexity—require a breadth of knowledge" (Agid, 2008, p. 12-13). In order to nurture this type of creative development in students, educational institutions must enable design's cross-fertilization with areas such as science, education, or business, in order to innovate products for our society that are shaped by media, technology, the economy, and environmental awareness (Palomo-Lovinski & Faerm, 2009). This approach to design education was raised at The Fashion Institute of Technology's conference Moving Forward: Fashion Design Today held in November of 2011. At this event, participants at a round-table discussion expressed the idea that a broader approach will provide greater flexibility and value to graduates in today's hyper-competitive job market. Flexibility will be an asset since, as the designer Clement Mok asserts, future designers will be expected to cross boundaries into unfamiliar practices while being able to “identify [new] opportunities


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and make connections between them" (Pink, 2005, p. 135). To provide graduates with these abilities, we must give priority to academic research (Van Zandt, 2011). This will require a reexamination of current fashion education practices in America. Fashion design in America is significantly under-theorized when compared to other creative disciplines such as architecture and fine-arts (Skjold, 2008). However, outside of American, the research approach to fashion education has been highly developed by such schools as Central Saint Martin's and The London College of Fashion, both in the United Kingdom. These institutions base their design school research traditions on the humanities, cultural awareness, and historical contexts "where fashion is considered a cultural phenomenon in a social and historical context" (Skjold, 2008). The advanced level of European fashion education is illustrated by the sixteen graduate-degree programs offered by The London College of Fashion and the quantities of doctoral programs offered throughout Western Europe. For example, at the state-funded Kolding Design School in Denmark, the contract between the school and the Ministry of Culture states that one-third of the teaching is to be research-based (Skjold, 2008) in order to enrich the fashion industry. Determining the ideal balance of conceptual learning with practical application seems to be a prioritized discussion in fashion education. Some educators think that the "intellectual, analytical, and conceptual considerations through research and experimentation must be foremost within a college design curriculum, yet should be grounded in ideas of practical application" (Palomo-Lovinski & Faerm, 2009). As fashion design education evolves and students' attempts at originality are nurtured, curricula must effectively balance artistry (vision, research and design), craft (technical skills), with business acumen (professional practice and placement) (Palomo-Lovinski & Faerm, 2009). Cameron Tonkinwise, Chair of Design Thinking at Parsons stated: We are educating designers who can actually begin to be social entrepreneurs and not just the providers of a product for somebody else to commercialize. With business acumen and design thinking skills, they are strategic in that they don’t just come up with the theme; they come up with the system that is going to sustain and proliferate the theme and actually have an impact on the world. (Wolff & Rhee, 2009, p. 13) At the Fashion Education Summit hosted by The Council of Fashion Designers of America in January of 2012, there was general consensus amongst the attending educators and professional designers that a craft-based education should not be lost or neglected, nor should it be replaced by academic traditions that do not provide the specific needs of fashion design education. The de-emphasis of such knowledge as garment construction and materiality and overemphasis on humanities and social sciences could have the potential to create a "fragmented education in which students would neither learn to work as designers nor do research, and in which the different requirements of the curriculum would appear meaningless" (Skjold, 2008, p. 11). However, attendees at the Summit agreed the key challenge for students lies in being able to acquire essential skills, interdisciplinary experiences, and conceptual development successfully within the relatively short time period during which a design degree is obtained. Students must acquire the skills they need to succeed in the current marketplace while simultaneously collecting knowledge that will


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allow them to remake and improve the future marketplace (Towers, 2005). Many American fashion design schools are responding to the need for designers to have advanced knowledge by offering (or currently developing) Master’s degree programs in fashion design and design theory; other institutions are contemplating the development of doctorate degree programs. If design schools do transition from an exclusively skill-centered curriculum to a theorycentered course of study that is supported by skill development, design education will increasingly emphasize the iterative stages of design and the students' ability to contextualize their creative process. The resulting paradigm shift therefore prioritizes “thinking” over “making” in design education. To promote this focus in design theory, some design schools offer first year students coursework that teaches design process through immaterial areas such as business systems analysis and service design. Service design "addresses the functionality and form of services from the perspective of the clients" and contextualizes the design processes by requiring students to empathize with users and to "develop a holistic understanding of the ways in which our relationships to services govern everyday life" (Forlano, 2010). By engaging with these broader types of design thinking, students gain a more sophisticated thought process for design application that may permeate and inform subsequent practical work (Bailey, 2007) and thus innovate the design industry. This will also encourage broader collaborations across disciplines. These new academic and professional partnerships will challenge outdated modes of fashion design and production (Palomo-Lovinski & Faerm, 2009). The importance of evolving design education into a field in which designers are allowed and encouraged to cross traditional barriers was underscored to students and educators by The New School's President David Van Zandt during his inaugural address in 2011. He stated: Future designers will acquire success not by simply how smart they are by studying traditional subjects or to those who have master technical skills. It will go to those who are able to comprehend both the problem and the context of the problem and how to design or create solutions that are efficiently and aesthetically desirable for the community. (Van Zandt, 2011) As academia speculates on which attributes the future designer must possess, and how students can be provided opportunities to develop successfully, a deeper understanding for how industry and academia define "design expertise" must take place; this clarity will allow fashion design education to develop the needed expertise that much further (Dorst, 2004). As suggested by Van Zandt, design expertise is no longer relegated to creating a mere item, but relates to larger and more connected conversations that may inform and affect more serious global networks. According to Rhee and Wolff at Parsons (2009), the school's ongoing objective is to "foster a new generation of designer-citizens: productive, engaged, inventive business people, policy makers, and community activists, many of whom also make beautiful and useful things" (p.10). These graduate attributes further support the students’ abilities to become leading “design thinkers” who work more laterally across disciplines. Like Towers, Marshall emphasizes that graduates—regardless of their areas of study— must be able to continually learn new skills, be entrepreneurial, understand complex issues, and take leadership roles in implementing change. Marshall states designers “….need to abandon positioning design as a secretive and privileged process in favor of a fluid and


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porous approach that situates design as a shared practice of societies and cultures with the designer enabling general participation through professional facilitation" (Marshall, 2009). Developmental Attributes of Young Adults To understand the transition from academia to professional practice experienced by fashion design graduates, we must examine the general characteristics of young adulthood. What challenges, hopes, beliefs, and needs do young adults have, and how are these influenced by the transitional period? Research into this specific population will provide a deeper context of the three year period as graduates become acclimated to the professional design room environment. Despite the fact that a transitional period experienced by recent college graduates has become normative in today’s American culture, there has been little research performed on the development of the 19-29 year old when the transition into adulthood is commonly marked (Arnett, 2003); the first scholarly conference discussing this age demographic was held at Harvard University in 2003 (Arnett, 2004). In lieu of such scholarly attention, media has focused on this age group through the works of fiction and journalistic accounts; these have often portrayed the subject in a negative and pessimistic light (Arnett, 2000). Researchers raise the issue that such portrayals can be damaging when viewed by young adults since, when young adults begin to form part of their self-identities, they may initially base these identities on stereotypes (Erikson, 1968). This age group may also seek a niche in some section of society through free role-playing experimentation. Marcia (1980) describes this by stating: …identity is a self-structure—an internal self-constructed collection of drives, beliefs and individual history. The better developed the identity is, the more aware one is of their own uniqueness and similarity to others, along with their own strengths and weaknesses. If one's identity is weak or underdeveloped, the more confused the individual is and likely to rely on external sources for selfevaluation. (p. 159) While stereotypes may be initially adopted for self-identity, one of the primary focuses for young adults is to gain an understanding of how they fit within the larger community (Yates & Youniss, 1996). This is a salient point given the increasing diversity of cultures, religions, and ethnicities young adults experience in their local communities. Individuals must learn to navigate such integrated environments themselves if their parents did not experience such diversity when growing up and are unable to impart such preparation to their children (Karcher, Brown, & Elliot, 2011). Given the evolutionary nature of identity formation, it does not happen neatly. In the earlier stages, the individual seeks release from the parents, shifts from being a “taker” to being self-reliant, and sets aside childhood fantasies by adopting a lifestyle (and perhaps a career choice) that is more realistic (Marcia, 1980). This can be especially challenging for those entering such highly competitive professions as fashion design where, due to competition from increasingly large graduate population and limited job vacancies, entry into the field may be closed or available to only a very few who are at the top of their class


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(Arnett, 2004). The young graduate may be forced to settle for an alternate, less desirable career path. In order to form an identity, an engagement in various life offerings takes place so that the young adult may make more enduring decisions. Author J.J. Arnett (2000) claims this process begins in adolescence but takes place mainly in young adulthood. He states: Emerging adulthood is a time of life when many different directions remain possible, when little about the future has been decided for certain, when the scope of independent exploration of life's possibilities is greater for most people than it will be at any other period of the life course. (p. 469) For many young adults, a plan or route has been created for travelling from adolescence to adulthood. However, the plan is almost always subject to change through changes in academic pathways, situations that may affect their studies, the realization that they may need additional coursework or degrees, and additional personal circumstances (Arnett, 2004). This evolving pathway grants most young adults a wider scope of possibilities than in other age ranges because they are exploring options. As Arnett (2004) states “To be a young American today is to experience both excitement and uncertainty, wide-open possibility and confusion, new freedoms, and new fears� (p. 3). Despite these commonly experienced challenges, most young adults view the exploration exhilarating rather than onerous (Arnett, 2010). Studies have shown that well-being, selfesteem, and life satisfaction all rise steadily during young adulthood for most people (Galambos, Barker, & Krahn, 2006). Those in their early 20s are often depicted as feeling daunted by low economic prospects, student loans, and by the soaring national debt. However, at the same time, they feel ambitious and eager to pursue their financial, occupational, and personal goals (Hornblower, 1997).

Mentorship The period between the ages of 19 and 29 can be one of great instability (Arnett, 2004). To support their developmental process, young adults learn to rely on peers, parents, and other adults for emotional support, advice, community, and mentorship (Karcher, et al., 2011). Mentorship is valuable in the transition process because it develops competence and character through teaching, advising, and the demonstration of model behavior (Hamilton & Hamilton, 2004). Optimal development during young adulthood leads to a healthy and productive life; the adult is able to earn a living, engage in civic activities, and participate in social relations and cultural activities (Hamilton, et al., 2004). To achieve maximum benefits during the transition into adulthood, young adults must have active engagement in diverse activities and develop supportive relationships that provide mentorship. Mentorship is what is most beneficial to their development and often results in their success in academic programs and the professional world (Hamilton, et al., 2011). Mentorship may prove to be particularly needed as one survey found that the average youth under eighteen spends five to six hours a day with some form of media (Hamilton & Hamilton, 2004), often alone, without parental supervision (Brown, Schaffer, Vargas, & Romocki, 2004).


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The College Experience Due to today’s youth struggling to discover their personal and professional pathways and thus taking longer periods of time to explore and experiment, the college student demographic has altered. At the beginning of the 21st century, nearly half of all undergraduate students were more than twenty five years old, and for most young adults today it takes at least five to six years to obtain a four year degree; just 56% of college students complete their four-year degree within six years (Van Zandt, 2011; Briody, 2012 ). There are several reasons why students prolong their college years, and while these include wishing to improve one’s income, the need to obtain degrees that carry a higher status, and the simple joy of learning (Arnett, 2004), college in the United States is commonly seen as the time when one finds out what one wants to do (Arnett, 2004). This importance of college allowing for exploration and discovery was supported by many college students; one subject felt her college experience was “full of revelations and growth” and that “Because of college, I am closer to possessing the knowledge I need to be who and what I want to be” (Arnett, 2004, p. 138). A prolonged college experience that involves broader and deeper professional exploration may prove highly beneficial since it is during this time that many young people acquire the education and training that will provide them with the foundation for their personal and professional achievements in the decades ahead (Chisholm & Hurrelmann, 1995). This wider scope and deeper investigation ultimately allows young adults to make more thoughtful decisions (Arnett, 2000). Some scholars express concerns that the American higher education system does not provide graduates with a fluid transition from the classroom to workplace because there is a lack of proper guidance systems for secondary level and college students. Young adults face an overwhelming amount of choice, yet are not sufficiently mentored. Similarly, many educators assert that today's entering college freshmen are underprepared for college, thus prompting high dropout rates. To increase retention, some institutions, such as Virginia Commonwealth University, have created programs to help students transition from high school into college; from 2004 to 2012 the University experienced an 80% increase in freshmen retention. Preparation for the Professional World According to Barling and Kelloway, the majority of American high school students are employed part-time (Arnett, 2000). Most are engaged in service jobs such as restaurants, retail, and similar avenues where challenges are low and the skills learned are few. Adolescents view these jobs not as direct preparation for career goals, but rather as a means to make income for their active leisure life (Arnett, 2000). Despite viewing these jobs as casual activities, adolescents can gain significant long-term benefits through these jobs which will impact their adult development. By working, the adolescent acquires independence, gains confidence in handling responsibilities, increases various skills, develops a team playing attitude, and develops awareness for how the world operates. These, in turn, help shape their values, goals, and identities (Hamilton & Hamilton, 2004). Unlike in adolescence, emerging adults use work experiences to gain focus on their professional goals. The individual begins to consider how employment opportunities will lay the groundwork for the jobs they may have through adulthood (Arnett, 2000). For fashion design undergraduates who intern, the workplace is commonly used to learn what they are


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most skilled at, for which area of the practice they are best suited, and what type of work they will find satisfying in the long term. They learn what they are good at in addition to what they are weak in, a realization that frequently leads to failure or disappointment (Arnett, 2004). Choosing one’s particular career path has deeper meaning for today’s student and young graduates. They have “grown up in an era of great affluence and abundance, and this has made them pursue careers that are more than just paychecks, but something enjoyable and personally gratifying” (Arnett, 2010). Today’s young generation perceives work as something that allows for self-development and self-expression (Arnett, 2004). Unlike their parents’ generation, wherein many considered simply having a job to be enough, the young adult today has been exposed to a hyper-globalized professional landscape loaded with career possibilities. As J.J. Arnett states, they all want to find the job that’s not just “work,” but a form of self-fulfillment (Warner, 2010). As a result of this ongoing search for the career that best suits their evolving identities (Arnett, 2004), many young adults experience a “quarterlife crisis” as they leap from job to job without a clear plan. This is partly an identity crisis because one cannot accurately choose a career path unless one knows oneself well enough to choose a career that one may enter more deeply (Arnett, 2004). This assertion is underscored by research showing that the average American holds seven to eight different jobs between the ages of eighteen and thirty, and one in four young adults has more than ten different jobs during this twelve year period (Arnett, 2004). While such statistics speak broadly to young Americans across all professional practices, the young adult who enters the specific area of fashion design often has a different experience. Fashion design students often state they knew from an early age what type of career they intended to pursue. As a result, they explored the discipline through pre-college coursework and on their own time (Appendix A) and entered undergraduate study somewhat established on their career path. For these students, the period of post-college career exploration is narrower; the goal during college for these students “is to obtain skills and the credentials that will enable them to do the work they know they are cut out to do” (Arnett, 2004, p.130). Although fashion design students differ from other young adults in that their career paths are self-selected early on, these young adults exhibit the common characteristics of exploration in other developmental areas. It is common for most fashion design students, when engaging in various internship opportunities, to explore diverse types of professional environments; these may range from larger global enterprises to brands that are maintained by minimal staffing and sold in the designer's local boutique (Appendix A). These explorations are in part explorations for their own sake because they allow the young adult to obtain a broader overview of life experiences before committing to “longer, more enduring, and limited adult responsibilities” (Arnett, 2000, p. 474). Despite this challenging road to adulthood, the majority of American college graduates transition into a career with the belief that “life will be kind to them and that all will go well in their lives. Most believe they will find a satisfying job that fits with their identity, pays well, while managing to find a ‘soul mate’” (Arnett, 2010).


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Summary of The Literature Review Fashion Design Education Due to the rapid and volatile changes occurring in the industry, the future role of fashion designers will require the ability to perform deeper levels of research in order to support design proposals. Fashion designers will be expected to engage with previously unrelated practices to create innovative fashion design, contextualize the work, and improve industry systems. Academia is considering how to prepare graduates for this accelerated and highly unpredictable professional landscape by reimagining the future of fashion design education. Educators will increasingly focus on developing students' conceptual skills and design processes within curricula that provide greater interdisciplinary opportunities. While this approach is being lauded by many, others—particularly those in the fashion design industry—stress the need for a balanced education that incorporates the development of conceptual thinking and practical “hands on” skills. Emerging Adulthood The developmental attributes of young adults have a tremendous effect on how the graduates enter the industry. The period immediately following graduation is typically marked by great uncertainty, exploration, identity formation, and preparation for adulthood. These factors contribute to young adults undertaking internships and working across several companies in a relatively short time frame so they can discover which professional area(s) they wish to dedicate themselves. The high quantity of change and uncertainty occurring in academia and industry will create an increasing need for student and graduate mentorship. Mentorship may take many forms that include formalized services (such as Career Services Offices located within academic institutions) and less structured opportunities (such as mentorship from internship supervisors). The Transitional Experience With such significant forms of professional, academic, and personal change, research into the transitional experience itself must be considered. This research will allow fashion design programs to produce successful professionals who will enable the fashion industry to flourish. By understanding the common themes that emerge from these three areas of change, educators will gain a better sense for what kind of undergraduate experience might best prepare students.


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Methodologies What are the challenges experienced by recent fashion design graduates during their transition from academia into the professional practice from the perspectives of recent graduates/third year professionals, practitioners, and fashion design educators? What common themes emerge? What kind of undergraduate experience might best prepare graduates to transition into the fashion industry? What would a well-supported transition look like? In order to better understand the transitional experience, several qualitative and quantitative research methods were employed. The following methods were used: 

 

An internet survey containing multiple-choice questions and open response questions was sent to over 200 Parsons alumni who graduated from the undergraduate Fashion Design Program in 2008 and 2009 (Appendix A); the response rate for most questions was approximately 30%. Focus groups were held in New York City and San Francisco (Appendix B). The New York group contained five professional designers who graduated from Parsons in 2006 and 2007; the group in San Francisco was comprised of five adjunct California College of the Arts (CCA) faculty members who are active in the fashion design practice. The purpose of these focus groups was to collect data from participants’ diverse personal, academic, and professional histories. Information about teaching practices, the future of fashion design and education, internships, and the student generation was also collected. Interviews conducted with faculty and students at Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles and Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, Rhode Island provided deeper insights into students’ preparation. The first annual Fashion Education Summit launched by The Council of Fashion Designers of American (CFDA) brought together leading industry professionals and design educators from nineteen American design schools to discuss fashion design education. The event consisted of a moderated roundtable discussion with industry leaders, the keynote lecture I presented about the future of fashion design education, and a workshop with educators. These events provided insights and speculations into the future of fashion design education and how the current generation of students can be prepared for professional practice (Appendix C). The annual Arts of Fashion Symposium's Fashion.edu Lecture Series presented information on international fashion design programs, unique pedagogy methods, and a professional designer’s experience of moving from college to the professional environment (Appendix C).


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Findings Following the data collection, finding were synthesized and categorized into key areas that collectively frame the graduates’ transition. These areas are: Pre-College Experiences, The College Experience and Graduate Attributes, Internships, Support Systems for the Transition Experience, Unexpected Challenges, and Evolving Professional Goals. The study’s findings were primarily based on survey data collected from Parsons graduates, focus group interviews, and two professional conferences. The data obtained was from a diverse population. Future investigation will require research to be expanded to include additional academic populations and settings. This will enable a broader conversation with students and faculty in order to obtain deeper insights into other program models, ideas for evolving fashion design education, and the transition experience. Pre-College Experiences Data about the pre-college experience figured prominently in the survey responses. Graduates were asked what type(s) of pre-college fashion design experience they had. The choices were high school courses, weekend or after school programs, study through one’s own engagement, no experience, and an area to list “Other” means of experience (Fig. 1). A high percentage of respondents (73%) had pre-college fashion design studies in a formal classroom setting; only 22% had no experience. The majority who selected the “Other” category listed participation in pre-college summer programs offered by such prestigious schools as Parsons The New School for Design, Rhode Island School of Design , Savannah College of Art and Design, Otis College of Art and Design, and Pratt Institute. This high level of engagement suggests a generation that is preparing very early for the college experience and thus exploring possible career choices during secondary school.

Figure 1 Graph displaying the surveyed respondents’


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pre-college fashion design experiences.

During the focus group at California College of the Arts (CCA) in San Francisco, faculty described a student population that is changing due to the reduction of art and design studies in secondary schools. The participants felt students are entering college with less developed skills as the result of many secondary schools decreasing art course offerings, forcing students to acquire basic skills through external programs. One survey respondent wrote: Some of the courses expected the student to already know certain basics of construction (which I did not) so I struggled heavily to make it through. My teachers would seem annoyed with me because I didn't arrive with these skills to begin with. Most of the kids picked up lessons faster because they had done them before on their own prior to arriving at [school], where I needed more guidance. As a result of the reduction in art curricula, a de-emphasis on “making things,” and schools emphasizing standardized tests and rote memorization, faculty felt first year college students have a reduced level of creativity. The participants expressed great concern over this reduction since the industry is demanding higher forms of innovation in both design and industry systems. The College Experience and Graduate Attributes Survey results show graduates felt their college courses were beneficial (62.7%) and provided good preparation for entry into the fashion design practice through skills learned (59.3%). Classroom experiences such as high workload, working on assignments with tight parameters, and learning from faculty’s professional experiences, provided foresight into industry expectations, culture, and career options. For example, during the 2011 Arts of Fashion Symposium, Parsons graduate and professional fashion designer Christine Mayes delivered a lecture that articulated her transition into the industry. She cited an undergraduate assignment that asked students to design for an aesthetic that was different from their own as being highly beneficial for her creative development; it taught her to be versatile and contribute to a brand’s unique identity while understanding her own creative “voice.” Projects that employed team dynamics were described by surveyed graduates and many professionals in focus groups as being beneficial because they prepared the students for how design rooms truly operate; designers form a collaboration in which the individual contributes ideas and learns to negotiate and compromise with fellow designers. As one designer stated: I think some students have a hard time adjusting to the industry. If a company gives you [work], they own the work. It's not your collection, it's not your name, it's not always your say. In school it is [always] your say, what you want, and no one to answer to. When you work, this can be hard to accept, even after twenty years of experience [and] you must learn to swallow it.


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Field trips to design rooms, cutting houses, production centers, and other related sites were cited as being educational because they exposed students to actual industry practices. Surveyed participants asked for curricula to incorporate these activities for future students. Ideas for how program structures can improve to support students were explored during the Fashion Education Summit. Attendees described a need for fashion design education to move away from “siloed” course subjects to integrated skill building (i.e. two-dimensional and three-dimensional design processes) by allowing projects to move across courses in order to build skills alongside one another. This modularity will teach students to better synthesize information, use a broader array of skills that are needed in the profession, and become more adaptable to prepare them for work in the highly accelerated industry. Others attendees felt students need to be more flexible and adaptable for a successful entry into the professional world; in order to strengthen this skill, “learning how to learn” is an area that educators must emphasize in curricula. Summit attendees further emphasized this concept by stating fashion design students must remain constantly aware of emerging industry practices through an academic experience that encompasses both classroom and external educational opportunities; one focus group participant from CCA articulated that her challenging transition into the industry would have been mitigated by having previous real world experience. However, the college experience developed graduates in other ways. In addition to fashion design skills, surveyed respondents described learning other forms of professional development in college, such as the ability to time manage, articulate ideas, and handle a high workload. These skills helped increase the students’ work ethic and discipline and provided a more fluid transition into the competitive, demanding, highly accelerated professional environment. As a result of the increasing speed and uncertainty in the profession, many focus group participants agreed there will be new graduate attributes required by the industry. These will likely include:      

Flexibility and an ability to "wear many hats"; Versatility in design and professional environment; Heightened critical and intuitive skills; Expertise in collaboration and team work; High interpersonal skills; An ability to contextualize design within larger global systems.

As Christine Mayes expressed in her lecture, such skills will be needed because the industry is not a “hand holder.” The professional environment expects designers to be highly observant and resourceful in order to predict and overcome potential hurdles within the design room. To be highly talented is simply not enough for tomorrow's professional fashion designer. Internships For college students in urban settings such as New York City and Los Angeles, internships provide an additional source of learning, professional engagement, and significant opportunities to explore career options in the fashion industry. Students typically find internships through their own initiatives, recommendations through faculty, or their school's


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career placement offices, and usually work one day per week during the academic year and full time during summer recesses. The learning opportunities and tasks given to the intern vary greatly and often depend upon the company's size and structure, the students' skills, and area of design focus. Almost all of the graduates surveyed (95%) had internships during their college years and virtually all of these related directly to fashion design (Fig. 2). Although the quantity of internships varied, a significant portion of these respondents (25.4%) had five or more internships during college and approximately 40% had between three and four. All of the professional designers participating in the New York focus group also had three or more internships during college which exposed them to different markets, responsibilities, and company scales, thus informing their professional goals.

Figure 2 Graph displaying the number of internships surveyed respondents had during their undergraduate education.

Graduates cited internships as the most helpful experience for their transition experience into industry. Out of seven possible choices (Fig. 3), over 71% of those surveyed listed internships as the most helpful for their transition into industry, and approximately 63% cited coursework as the second most helpful. All other areas ranked far below these results: 24% felt part-time work was helpful for the professional transition, and only 22% cited school events as beneficial. Internships were valuable due to several reasons, including the information and skills acquired (“Good learning experience beyond classes at Parsons”), the broader engagement in the Garment Center that could be applied to their studies, understanding how to work for another designer, and general exposure to the professional environment. Participants describe the internship experiences as “insightful and personal”, beneficial for developing realistic professional expectations, and beneficial for learning how to network. The few who had negative experiences and felt internships were least helpful for


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their transition (12.5%) stated they were given menial tasks that did not offer much education or responsibility. As one stated: One of them was terrible. I was basically the coffee girl and ran errands. [The internship] did not teach me anything about fashion. The others were much better. I basically did the work of an assistant designer. This showed me the type of work I would start to do at my first job. It also prepared me for the hours most fashion jobs required.

Figure 3 Graph displaying those areas felt most helpful in the transition between academia and practice.

Areas that provided direct engagement with the design practice, namely coursework and internships, were found most helpful by graduates for their transition into the fashion design industry. Respondents were detailed in describing the usefulness of internships as a result of the knowledge gained that could be directly applied to their future career and for the opportunity to network; one wrote “…the only way to get a job was through internship connections [and] 90% of employees were interns at some point or were recommended by another internship.” Students view internships as “real world” experience that can be synthesized with academic coursework. One graduate expressed that school is able “to teach [aspects about] the industry in theory, but nothing compares to what you learn when you are actually in it,” while another underscored the importance of internships by stating such opportunities provide exposure to the “realities” of producing garments. Their experience with internships led some respondents to feel the area needing the most improvement is the connection between the education received and how the “real world” operates; some felt faculty needed to be better informed in contemporary practices, that curriculum missed key areas of the industry (e.g. how to put garments into production), and that there was an


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absence of utilizing The New York Garment Center for educational activities such as field trips and having professional designers critique student work. Internship experiences varied greatly. Most survey respondents had a wide range of internship experiences as students and these increased their understanding of the industry and their professional goals. Diverse professional environments, responsibilities, and markets were often experienced by the same respondent. One graduate wished to interact with different types of fashion design since “…it [will] help my decision when choosing a job, or jobs, in the future;” another chose internships that were at both high-end and mass-market levels in order to “…get an idea of where I fit. These experiences exposed me to the demands, expectations, and the reality of the industry…” This approach was also employed by designer Christine Mayes who felt her diverse internships during college gave her an advantage because “there is much to be learned no matter where you are.” The exposure to different markets and professional environments broadened her abilities, thus contributing to her professional success at such unique houses as Vivienne Tam and Thom Browne; while Vivienne Tam develops highly commercial women's wear in New York City, the latter is known for his highly conceptual men's wear shown in Paris. The students’ responsibilities during internships varied and included patternmaking, designing, sewing, sketching, performing inspiration research, working on digital design work, organizing, and providing general administrative support. While many of these skills were taught in the students’ design programs, the professional environment allowed interns to improve these skills while observing the broader context of fashion design and how design teams operate. Internships deepen the students’ education and professional development through the supervisors’ mentorship. As one designer in the New York focus group stated “[My boss] really nurtured me [and] took me in. Her openness was helpful and I learned from that how to treat others.” As a result of their positive mentorship received during college, many professionals understood the necessary benefits of their experience. This has led them to be active mentors for their current interns in order to provide them with more knowledge and prepare them for a healthy transitional experience. Support Systems for the Transition Experience What types of mentorship and institutional support structures exist for young adults? The support needed by students was underscored by one attendee—a fashion design graduate—at the Fashion Education Summit who claimed “students do not know themselves as well as we did years ago.” Other Summit attendees and professionals participating in the 2011 Fashion Institute of Technology's Moving Forward: Fashion Design Today conference agreed that educators must help design students discover the many other types of careers in the fashion industry due to the field’s competitive nature that is compounded by the high graduate population. The greater diversity of students and the awareness that students must become more fully aware of career options has led some faculty at CCA to feel their role has increasingly become that of "mentor." This role has impacted the transition experience significantly: 34% of recent graduates surveyed found their relationship with faculty was the most helpful for a fluid transition experience. One graduate stated:


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Talking to my teachers and getting advice on how to achieve what I wanted to achieve was the most important and most helpful aspect [of school]. Another one wrote: The faculty did well giving insight into all aspects of the industry, not just sitting at a desk making tech packs. It was great to talk about freelance, full-time, etc. as well as positions other than that of designer. In order to best prepare students for entry into the field, academic institutions employ various methods. Career Services Offices typically support students across all majors through annual job fairs, resume workshops, internship and job boards for students and alumni, and general career advising. The online survey showed the Office played a role in approximately half of the respondents’ transition experiences. Many stated their first jobs were found through the Office’s events, an online database, and appointments with the staff. Activities that were particularly beneficial included assistance with finding employment, resume workshops, and securing internships. However, some students wanted more opportunities to learn these skills. One wrote: [The] whole process of job hunting, interviewing, and finding the resources for job listing[s] were something I wasn’t prepared for. These things weren’t really touched upon at schools I went in with very little to no idea/preparation on how to navigate in the job market. In the CCA focus group, participants cited their Placement Office as an essential component in graduates' transition experience. The faculty further described their Career Services Office as highly engaged with the alumni; graduates are sent new job postings and are frequently supported by the office’s outreach that offers mentorship during all stages of professional development. One member stated that “[The Placement Office] is part of the educational story here at CCA." However, survey results showed 24 out of 46 respondents felt their college’s Career Services Office to be of little or no help (Fig. 4) and they relied on their own perseverance when applying for positions or subscribed to external recruiting websites for job listings. Graduates wished they had received better training in interviewing skills, resume preparation, and networking methods.


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Figure 4 Graph displaying those areas felt least helpful in the transition between academia and practice. Aside from offering professional guidance, many institutions hold alumni social “mixers” that provide alumni with networking opportunities and professional support. To reach a broader community, some institutions produce publications for alumni so they remain updated on events, and feel connected to their schools, fellow alumni, and emerging developments in the field. In light of the economic crisis, Parsons offers a monthly alumni job search support group, and panel discussions and workshops on freelancing, which also serve as networking opportunities. The institution’s concerted efforts to reach out to recent alumni serves to remind them that they are not alone in their challenges. However, despite most schools offering these services, some participants described their colleges as “expecting them to sink or swim upon graduation, door closed, while they focused on the next batch.” The need for an alumni community that provides professional networking and mentorship surfaced in several responses, with one survey participant claiming: There should really be more of a community once you graduate [and] that should be initiated by the school. After all, one of the best things about [college] is those you meet and the connections you make. The graduate continued by stating one’s alma mater should “always feel like a home” where student and alumni are welcomed and receive ongoing support. According to a recent survey conducted by Parsons The New School for Design, 57% of alumni cited the need for networking opportunities with industry professionals and school alumni as the most pressing concern for professional development (Parson The New School for Design, 2011).


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Unexpected Challenges Following graduation, the designers experienced many surprises and challenges that made the transition into the professional practice less fluid than they anticipated. One of the key surprises for graduates responding to the survey was how the industry operates, despite most having internships throughout college. These ranged from understanding the designers’ role within a larger corporate system, the corporate calendar, and how to work with overseas factories. At a conference held at Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City in November 2011, professionals also commented on the graduates' inability to understand the realities of the industry due to the lack of preparation received in college (Wong, 2011). For some graduates, the surprise was too great and they left the profession altogether. Faculty at CCA estimated that 20% of their graduates are no longer in the industry; they believe one reason for that is the shock many recent graduates receive when faced with how the industry actually functions, as opposed to their preconceived ideas of it. When asked to describe their own transition, one faculty member claimed it was “brutally painful” because school provided a “fantasy world” that did not reflect actual industry operations. Another designer felt education provided a strong foundation for designing fashion, but “it was ‘mind blowing’ to learn how the industry really operates.” More in-depth industry knowledge and training in entrepreneurship/business skills were cited for the past two years as the top two suggestions for Parsons to better prepare graduates by survey respondents to the Parsons survey (Parsons The New School for Design, 2011). Another challenge pertained to the industry's accelerated rate of change. One focus group participant at CCA asserted “the industry doesn’t know what it’s doing anymore,” exemplified in its shift from delivering four collections per season to possibly eighteen. The speed and energy required to generate such high volumes decreases the designers' ability to properly analyze previous work and improve both the products and the system behind the products’ creation. Christine Mayes affirmed the "brutal two-week turn-around dates often required by the industry" made her feel the industry focuses on quantity over quality; this pressure does not allow for reflection on areas for improvement or maximum creativity in design. While studying fashion design, survey participants articulated that they had received an education that emphasized conceptual development and design process. This experience led many to feel they entered the industry with different job expectations. One stated: Academia is so different from the industry and no one explains to you the difference. You are under the impression that all of your talents will be utilized in the real world but they are disregarded, and that was a shocker. That should've been something we knew. Survey results suggest graduates were surprised by the lack of creativity offered in the profession due to the high emphasis on technical responsibilities that included creating computer spread sheets, performing garment “specing,” and developing “tech packs” for manufacturing. To mitigate this, some expressed the need for education to incorporate industry practices into curricula. As one stated: In school, we got away with ‘wonky designs’ and we should have been challenged more about specifics, pushed more. ‘What kind of stitching is that


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[and] what lining are you using?’ Not just the ideas, but more of how will it be fully made, resolved. Christine Mayes underscored this division between education and industry during her lecture by expressing much of the American industry is “void of [creativity]” and “it was a jolt” to transition into an industry that often looks to European runway shows for ideas. A fashion designer from one focus group stated: I was surprised by how many companies work from other company's work and from Style.com to copy. The majority of companies steal from Paris, Milan, et cetera, but it's good to learn merchandising [and] schools should have more classes on this [subject]. The lack of designing caused much frustration and led some survey respondents to feel that in order to experience design as a creative practice, they must operate their own companies rather than working for a brand that is largely driven by commercial success. Another survey respondent reassessed initial expectations and wrote: [School] was very focused on the concept and philosophy behind fashion, which is great but I felt very limited with available jobs as I was trained for 'higher-end designer customers'. What I realized outside [of school] was that [the] majority of [the] fashion industry has less of that and my fellow graduates [and I had] a hard time adjusting to that. Most of us settled for places that we [didn’t] believe in but [worked there] to get benefits and pay the bills. Similarly, several respondents felt challenged when asked to design for a different aesthetic because they were accustomed to designing for themselves and their own aesthetic with few limitations during their education. One wrote: It was quite a shock, transitioning from [school] to a company that was very different from your own aesthetic and where you were expected to dedicate all your time to a product you ultimately didn't care for. Despite these challenges experienced by the young graduates, the professional designers and educators in the focus groups agreed that students must be taught to maximize their creativity and ensure it is supported by skill building in order to discover who they are as designers during these formative years. This belief that design education should prioritize creativity and conceptual thinking led many of the designers to engage their interns in “real world” technical work to complement and balance their conceptually focused school curricula. It is this balanced approach to curricula development that was widely supported by both industry and academia at the Fashion Education Summit. A designer in the New York focus group shared similar thoughts by stating “I never would have traded the freedom to be creative, despite the rough entry into the field it created.” While these challenges remain salient, almost half of those surveyed (44%) felt the transition from school to industry was easy and fluid, and just over one-quarter (28%) felt it was a challenge (Fig. 5).


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Figure 5 Graph displaying the surveyed respondents’ feelings towards the fluidity of their transitional experience.

Evolving Professional Goals With so many challenges faced by graduates, did the survey participants’ professional goals evolve during their transition period? Most prepared for the fashion design practice through pre-college coursework, rigorous undergraduate studies, and several internships. While many expressed their goals have not shifted and their deeper immersion into the field has strengthened these professional goals, others described slight adjustments in their goals, while still others left the profession altogether. One common change pertains to company demographics. For some, college years were spent preparing for a large corporate brand. However, once employed by these brands, respondents cited the lack of creativity, long hours, insufficient salaries, low personal gratification, and contrarian design aesthetic as the impetus for changing their goals and opening their own, smaller labels. Disheartened by unpleasant professional environments, others began their own companies based on their own ideals. Some who were surprised by the lack of employment opportunities in the challenging economy created their own brand. As one stated: I always thought I would work for a company for many years. After a year of still looking for a job and interning, I decided to start my own line. Best decision I have ever made. In contrast, some graduates valued large established corporations for their financial and personal benefits. One stated:


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I used to want to work at a small company where I knew all the ins and outs, and then eventually start my own small company. Now I will only work at large companies that can afford to pay me properly for the work I do...including overtime hours, offer benefits, [and] offer a possibility to move up in the company. The demanding profession and grueling hours ranked high in altering professional goals. One stated: When graduating, you have this idea of your dream and how it will play out but as you get older your responsibilities and life choices start to change. Therefore your dream of designing changes and the reality of how much work is involved for one [person] begin to be not as enjoyable as it was during college and the first year of starting your career. The idea that you CAN do it all IS possible, but doing it all GREAT and to your fullest capability is impossible. The desire to balance professional and personal lives was evident in survey respondents’ desire to be both successful and happy by choosing a career path that would allow for a satisfactory lifestyle. For other graduates, starting a family greatly impacted their initial goals; one graduate shifted from working at highly esteemed brands that impressed peers to “one where I respect the product, love the work environment and co-workers, and that doesn’t encroach on my life outside of work.” Although some graduates felt startled by the industry’s lack of creativity and high emphasis on commercial success after having college experiences that allowed for full creativity, other graduates embraced the challenge and evolved their professional foci. One stated: My goals are to design real products that can reach an audience who will actually wear the clothes and utilize them in real life, instead of the conceptual runway pieces I thought I'd be making. Another graduate explained that her new goal is to have her ideas in the “more realistic and lucrative” marketplace, rather than “dreaming up concepts.” Due to this increased engagement with the business aspect of fashion design, several graduates expressed they have discovered a new passion for business that complements their passion for design; some have applied to Master’s in Business Administration programs for developing a future fashion company or pursued business–oriented careers such as fashion buying.


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Data Interpretations Throughout the research process, the graduates’ transition experience was contextualized largely through an increasingly demanding and uncertain industry. The literature review and participants in the study articulated that the unprecedented acceleration of today's industry is resulting in an inability to reflect adequately and identify future needs and goals; the industry does not know how to innovate and improve due to the market's ceaseless demand for high quantities of product for consumption. There are increasing pressures placed on fashion designers due to the overwhelming numbers of graduates competing for jobs, the volatile economy, an overly saturated market where products must appear unique, and the evolution of the designer's role that will require significantly more skills. Literature and conferences demonstrated the need for future designers to identify social patterns, synthesize information from previously disconnected systems in order to innovate practice and products, and create a highly original and sustainable vision that can stand out in the global marketplace. The designer's role is also being re-contextualized as a result of production facilities being removed from traditional design centers such as New York and Milan. Production centers such as China and Brazil have established their own fashion weeks while local schools abroad train design students with great success. Much of the literature reviewed speculates these countries will marginalize the American fashion industry and design education. This confirms findings from focus groups and conferences that show American design schools will evolve the older mode of design education centered on making into one that prioritizes thinking, thus building a new knowledge-based economy. This will require educators to reexamine their teaching practices and consider how they can best evolve their pedagogy for this new academic environment. It will also require program leaders to support faculty during this transition. Data from the survey showed there is a high quantity of high school students who are enrolling in pre-college fashion design studies; this preparation in skill will allow American design schools to develop a more advanced theory-centered design education. However, this contradicts findings from the CCA focus group and suggests broader data must be collected. If pre-college fashion design experience is rising, higher education’s evolution to a more theorycentered design education will be critical since, due to the speed of the world today and the volatility of the industry, designers will need to research more deeply in order to back up their work. Thus, students need to learn not only skills, but highly sophisticated forms of research and data collection methods to inform their fashion design proposals. Virtually all participants in this study advocated for higher education to improve students' creative, critical, and analytical skills since there is a demand from the industry for graduates who possess stronger creative visions and innovative approaches to both fashion design and business models. For students not adequately prepared by skill-based pre-college studies, American institutions may develop a system similar to many European art and design universities. Prior to entry into a four-year course of undergraduate study that prioritizes theoretical and conceptual thinking, students complete a "foundation year" that emphasizes basic skills in art and design. This structure can successfully serve those students who do not have sufficient skills, often due to reduced arts education in the American secondary schools. Students already possessing the foundational skills needed for the four year program would not be required to enter this “foundational” year. An optional five-year undergraduate program model was advocated by many educators and students in this study.


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During the transition period, the study showed fashion design graduates demonstrated common characteristics associated with most other college graduates; these included the need for professional and emotional support in the form of mentorship, attempts to discover the preferred area in the practice by frequent shifts in employment and professional environments, optimism for the future, and evolving values. Surveyed participants demonstrated a high motivation for professional success and demand for personal fulfillment from their work. As confirmed through the literature review, mentorship is also invaluable during this time of increasing uncertainty due to its ability to provide multiple perspectives and the voice of experience to inexperienced young adults. Other characteristics appeared unique amongst the design graduates. While most college students use their undergraduate studies to discover a career, data shows fashion design students discovered and prepared for the practice well before college. This experience immersed in design (before and during college) produced significant focus on their professional preparation. As students, the participants viewed their college experience as one to obtain the skills and credentials needed to enter a practice they had been preparing for over many years. The high quantity of internships held by surveyed respondents further indicates the level of preparation sought, professional drive, high self-motivation, and awareness for how competitive the job market is in the fashion design industry. The most significant challenge experienced by survey respondents during their transition period was an understanding of how the industry operates and the job itself. This finding was also stated in conferences and focus groups. Data shows the graduates would have had a more fluid transition if they had been provided more practical knowledge of how the industry works. Although internships were beneficial and mitigated surprises because they gave exposure to the ”real world,” most interned one day per week; these short time spans did not provide adequate observation of—and deep engagement with—the daily industry operations. This infrequency of exposure to the industry offered relatively narrow insights into the full responsibilities for entrylevel positions, thus preventing a genuine industry experience. To increase their students' understanding and preparation for the transition experience, some colleges attending the Fashion Education Summit discussed their programs offering credit for full-time internships taken during a "Winterim" session or summer recess. Others institutions, such as the University of Cincinnati, offer cooperative education programs which allow students to alternate traditional semesters of academic study with professional practice assignments in the industry. In this model, students obtain firsthand learning, combine theoretical with practical knowledge in the professional environment, and formulate realistic expectations for future careers. While diverse internships provided an understanding of where the students wished to situate themselves professionally, a longer and more immersive internship experience must be undertaken to comprehend how the industry and entry level position truly operate. Similarly, a required "suite" of internships in such areas as design, business, and garment production will expose students to broader fashion systems and career possibilities in the field. Such a structure would also promote the desired graduate attributes of versatility, flexibility, confidence, ability to make connections, empathy, self-awareness and—perhaps most importantly as demonstrated through research conducted—a deeper understanding of industry operations and job expectations. The importance of internships as external classrooms where students develop hands-on skills is likely to increase. This is due to design education prioritizing theory in curricula, the students'


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ongoing need for such fundamental skills as patternmaking and garment construction, as well as the desire for greater professional development and mentorship. As this study shows, internships play an enormous role in the education and transition of the young adult. Therefore it will be critical for programs to have increased oversight of these internships to ensure they are meaningful and educational. Educators must also create opportunities for using the industry (e.g. New York’s Garment Center) and other relevant areas outside of the academic setting for educational opportunities and course building. These combined experiences will create synergies between theory and the “real world� and ultimately support the graduates' transition. When developed alongside such support systems as Career Services and Student Advising, the generation that is expanding in diversity and professional goals will be better supported. A more specialized design education and professional preparation that works in collaboration with the industry will allow each student to match his or her goals, thus contributing to better preparation and a more fluid transition.


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Conclusion The period of "emerging adulthood" from the ages of 19 – 29 is fraught with uncertainty as it is a critical period for the formation of the individual's personal and professional identities. This uncertainty is heightened by a volatile fashion design professional and economic environment, ongoing questions into the future role fashion designers will play, and design education programs rethinking their core academic philosophies. As fashion design education adopts new program models, educators must remain aware of the challenges graduates experience during their transition period from college into the profession. In order for academia to strengthen their graduates’ entrance into the industry, the following recommendations have been developed. Recommendations Internships A support system is needed for developing productive internship settings, and for ongoing monitoring of students’ experiences in them. By overseeing students’ internship experiences, design programs will ensure internships are meaningful and educational experiences, and thus grant college credits in this “external classroom” opportunity. There is significant need for fulltime internships in order to provide students with more realistic expectations for industry operations and future job responsibilities. Adopting school-based internship programs that offer credits during students’ winter and summer recesses, students will experience the desired immersion in the profession. In the research for this study, a clear pattern emerged, one that made clear that graduates were not fully aware of the career possibilities within the fashion design practice. A required “suite” of internships in areas of design, production, and business will allow students to connect systems, discover the professional areas they wish to pursue, and receive a more holistic understanding of the industry. Students will benefit by making professional connections for mentorship and future employment, applying their learned skills and theories acquired in the actual practice, and gaining familiarity with the professional environments. These areas were cited by participants as needing improvement in the students’ education or those areas that produced the biggest surprises for graduates during their transition. Program Design Students need a balanced education between both design theory and industry "real world" operations. This balance must be promoted so that students are both intellectually challenged and able to obtain a fuller understanding and preparation for their future careers. Due to the changes occurring in American fashion design education, advanced research into program design (that includes cooperative education models and full-time internship programs) must be performed in order to furnish educators and program directors with a better understanding of alternate program models and benefits they provide for the graduates’ transitional experience. To ensure this balance in the students’ education, and to provide multiple points of view in design thinking, students’ engagement with professional designers at every level of academic study (not just the latter years, as most programs offer) will provide students with a greater awareness of industry expectations. For example, in courses professional designers may serve as visiting critics and assign projects that are framed by specific industry practices or objectives. The creation of lecture series, roundtable discussions, and other forms of program-wide


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gatherings that engage industry professionals will give diverse points of view and experiences in the practice to students – and to faculty. These events will be particularly beneficial if schools have limited access to urban fashion districts that allow for field trips and on-site learning. Suggested program models are (Appendix D): A) In Model A, a first year “foundation year” which exposes students to general concepts in art and design before they enter four years of specialized study in fashion design. Students who are assessed through portfolio review and meet the requirements may place out of this year and enter the four year fashion design specialization directly. This framework benefits students who are not receiving adequate art and design preparation during their secondary educational experiences and need generalized art skills prior to entering the major. B) In Model B, students complete four years of full-time coursework. A fifth year of full-time professional work is taken between the students’ second and third years of study and delivers college credits. This “external year” will allow students to fully engage in actual industry practices, gain professional connections for mentorship and future employment opportunities, and form genuine expectations for the fashion design practice. C) In Model C, a final “transition year” and a more supported and fluid entry into the profession for students is provided. Following the completion of four years of fulltime study, students enter a fifth year that combines academic coursework and creditbearing professional experience in the industry. Similar to model “B,” students form genuine expectations for the career by engaging in actual industry operations, make professional connections for mentorship and future employment, and experience a more fluid entrance into the profession. Support Systems Increasing opportunities for students to learn how to interview, resource job postings, network, and navigate professional environments will address many of the challenges students experience when transitioning from college to career. Institutions’ Career Services Offices must engage far more with students, faculty, and alumni to learn how the administrators can best support the student community, and ultimately provide a better transition for graduates. Engaging industry professionals on a frequent basis to acquire specific data about recent graduate hires will offer additional date and thus inform future initiatives. Lingering Questions Pre-College and College Experiences To understand how to evolve design curricula—thereby improving the transition into practice—research into students' pre-college experiences must be collected by academic institutions. Such questions should include: What are the histories of the entering students? What prior courses relevant to fashion design have students taken? What applicable skills do they already possess? Are these skills sufficient enough to allow programs to evolve curricula into advanced theoretical discourse and cross-disciplinary engagement in order to produce the


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newly desired graduate attributes? As secondary education evolves, what types of art and design courses should be offered? What is the future of art education in secondary education? How has the student generation evolved and how will this impact future pedagogy? How can curricula evolve and promote cultural sensitivity in an increasingly diverse world and student body, and environmental awareness through processes and materials? How can higher education programs educate student successfully for entering the volatile and highly accelerated future fashion design industry? How and from where do students form their ideas for what being a fashion designer entails? The Designer’s Identity This study shows the most significant challenges were the lack of understanding of industry operations and entry level positions. How and from where do students form their ideas for what being a fashion designer entails? How can higher education programs educate student successfully for entering the volatile and highly accelerated future fashion design industry? Program Models Advanced research into five-year design education models is needed. How could a five-year undergraduate program benefit students who do not have adequate access to pre-college art and design studies? How can design schools adopt this structure to better educate and prepare undergraduates? In what ways will this model improve the transition period? Have the graduates from five year programs experienced an easier transition into practice than those from four year programs? Undergraduate programs must also offer more personalized fashion design education through “tracks” and elective spaces in which students “design” their own academic experience. This need for personalized programming is increasing due to the diversity of students’ pre-college experiences, and their unique needs and goals. Personalized “tracks” will ensure all students are academically challenged, are able to pursue unique personal and professional goals, and receive the types of mentorship needed. Due to the ever-increasing knowledge graduates must possess, research into the role of graduate studies in fashion design must be performed. What are the benefits of graduate studies in fashion design for students? How could graduate programs further improve the graduates’ transition into the industry? How can graduate-level coursework address the growing areas of interdisciplinary collaboration? Support Systems Although most institutions provide support systems such as Career Services and alumni events, many survey participants felt these services were inadequate. How can the existing structures be improved? What additional support systems are needed? Broader research into the types of institutional support systems will be needed to understand which are most beneficial for the students’ mentorship and their transitional experiences. The benefits of mentorship were praised by many in this study. Further research into diverse mentorship programs, the benefits and values expressed by their participants, and data collection from those who received mentoring before and during the transition are needed to more fully understand this type of support. How are alumni engaged? How could they offer more meaningful mentorship for students?


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By contextualizing the transition experience, students and emerging professionals will be better prepared and supported. This will produce a more successful student and alumni body who are increasingly engaged and committed to the profession due to their fluid and positive transition from the academic environment into the fashion design profession. Awareness for the critical role the transition experience plays must always remain connected to an academic institution’s philosophy, program design, and curricula. Emerging adulthood is a time of life when many different directions remain possible, when little about the future has been decided for certain, when the scope of independent exploration of life's possibilities is greater for most people than it will be at any other period of the life course. J. J. Arnett


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References Agid. S. (2008/fall) Re: Imagining Parsons: How Parsons' new academic structure is shaping design education in the 21st century. Re:D , 26(2), 11-15 Arnett, J.J. (2000). Emerging adulthood: A theory of development from the late teens through the twenties. American Psychologist, 55 (5), 469-480. Arnett, J. J. (2000). High hopes in a grim world: Emerging adults' view of their futures and "generation x". Youth and Society ,13(3), 267-286. Arnett, J. J. (2003). Conceptions of the transition to adulthood among emerging adults in American ethnic groups. New Directions for Child and Adolescent Development, 100 (Summer 2003), 63-75. Arnett, J. J. (2004) Emerging Adulthood: The winding road from the late teens through the twenties. New York: Oxford University Press. Arnett, J. J. (2010). Oh, grow up! Generational grumbling and the new life stage of emerging adulthood--commentary on Trzeniewski & Donnellan. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 5(I), 89-92. Bailey, S. (2007). Towards a Critical Faculty. Retrieved from http://www.dextersinister.org/library.html?id=80 Berger, W. (2010, July 29). The four phases of design thinking: What ingrained habits are linked to a designer’s ability to turn original ideas into innovations?. Businessweek. Retrieved from http://www.businessweek.com/managing/content/jul2010/ca20100730_317729.htm Berry, A. (2012, February 16). Fashion week by the numbers. Time Magazine. Retrieved from http://newsfeed.time.com/2012/02/16/new-york-fashion-week-by-the-numbers/ Briody, B. (2012). Dropping out: A costly but common decision. The Fiscal Times. Retrieved from http://money.msn.com/college-savings/11-worst-public-university-grad-rates Bronson, P., & Merryman, A. (2010, June 10). The creativity crisis. Newsweek. Retrieved from http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2010/07/10/the-creativity-crisis.html Brown, J., Schaffer, R., Vargas, L., & Romocki, L. (2004). Popular media culture and the promise of critical media literacy. In S.F. Hamilton & M.A. Hamilton, M. A. (Eds.), The youth development handbook: Coming of age in American communities (239-267). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc. Brown, T. (2008). Design thinking. Harvard Business Review, 86(6), 84-92. Brown, T. (2009). Change by design. New York: HarperCollins Publishers


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Cashdan, M. (Fall 2008) Malcolm McLaren, the pop magician. Whitewall, 11, 77-79. Clark, H. (1991). Design history and British design education: An appraisal. Elisava TdD,26. Retrieved from http://tdd.elisava.net/coleccion/6/clark-en/view?set_language=en Dennis, J. (2011). Making design matter: New uniforms for a hospice unit. The Huffington Post. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jeanne-dennis/hospice-unituniforms_b_1081834.html Dorst, K. & Reymen, I. (2004) Levels of expertise in design education. In: 2nd International Engineering and Product Design Education Conference (IEPDE), September 2-3, 2004, Delft, The Netherlands. Retrieved from http://doc.utwente.nl/58083/1/levels_of_expertise.pdf Droste, M. (2006). Bauhaus 1919-1933. Cologne: Taschen. Erikson, E.H. (1968). Identity: Youth and crisis. New York: W. W. Norton & Company Forlano, L. (2010) What is service design? Urban Omnibus. Retrieved from http://urbanomnibus.net/2010/10/what-is-service-design/ Friedman, T. (2005). The world is flat. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Galambos, N.L., Barker, E.T., & Krahn, H.J. (2006) Depression, anger, and self-esteem in emerging adulthood: Seven-year trajectories. Developmental Psychology, 42, 350-365. Hamilton, S.F. & Hamilton, M.A. (2004). Designing work and service for learning. In S.F. Hamilton & M.A. Hamilton, M. A. (Eds.), The youth development handbook: Coming of age in American communities (147 – 169). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc. Hamilton, Hamilton & Pittman. (2004). Principles for youth development. In S.F. Hamilton & M.A. Hamilton, M. A. (Eds.), The youth development handbook: Coming of age in American communities (3-22). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc. Heller, S. (2007). Is there a doctor in the house? An interview with Meredith Davis. American Institute of Graphic Arts. Retrieved from http://www.aiga.org/is-there-a-doctor-ofdesign-in-the-house-an-interview-with-meredith-davis/ Hornblower, M. (1997, June 9). Great xpectations. Time, 149, 58-68. Karcher, M.J, Brown, B.B., & Elliot, D.W. (2004). Enlisting peers in developmental interventions: Principles and practices. In S.F. Hamilton & M.A. Hamilton, M. A. (Eds.), The youth development handbook: Coming of age in american communities (193215). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.


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Kawakubo, Rei. (2011, August 25). Rei Kawakubo: The Comme des Garçons design visionary breaks her silence to sound off on the continual chaos of fashion. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424053111903918104576500263503794504.html# ixzz1hqZTn9QE Kirschbaum, S. (Fall 2008). The eccentrics: Viktor & Rolf. Whitewall, 11, 118-119. Kirschbaum, S. (Fall 2008). The sensualist: Donna Karan. Whitewall, 11, 121. Loschek, I. & Klose, S. (2007). Fashion shapes Europe. Culture Report Progress Europe, 1. Retrieved from http://www.ifa.de/pdf/kr/2007/kr2007_en.pdf Marcia, J. (1980). Handbook of adolescent psychology. New York: Wiley and Sons. Marshall, T. (2009, January). Designing design education. Form, 224. Retrieved from http://www.icograda.org/education/education/articles1397.htm The Municipal Art Society of New York. (2011, October 14). Fashioning the future: NYC’s garment district. Retrieved from http://mas.org/urbanplanning/garment-district/ Palomo-Lovinski, N. & Faerm, S. (2009). What is good design?: The shifts in fashion education of the 21st century. Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal, 3 (6), 89-98. Parsons The New School for Design. (2011). Parsons The New School for Design career survey: Class of 2010. New York, NY: Office of Institutional Research. Peng, E. (2010, May 16). It's time fashion schools got down to business. The Business of Fashion Newsletter. Retrieved from http://www.businessoffashion.com/2010/05/itstime-fashion-schools-got-down-to-business.html Pink, D.H. (2005). A whole new mind: Why right-brainers will rule the future. New York: Riverhead Books. Pinkerson, D. & Levin, M. (Producers), & Levin, M. (Director). (2009). Schmata: rags to riches to rags [Motion picture]. United States: Home Box Office Documentary Films. Postrel, V. (2003). The substance of style. New York: HarperCollins Publishers. Tanz. J. (2003, December 8). From drab to fab formerly style-impaired manufacturers like whirlpool and master lock are now cranking out great-looking stuff. CNN Money. Retrieved from http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/2003/12/08/355102/index.htm


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Towers, J. (2005, July/August). Sustainable design. Print. Retrieve from http://www.europeanoutdoorgroup.com/downloads/sustainabledesign/Sustainabledesign.pdf Rothstein, P. (2005, May). Rethinking design education in a time of change: Risks and rewards. Innovation, 23-25. Seigel, L. (2011, May 8). Why fast fashion is slow death for the planet. The Guardian, 35. Skjold, E. (2008). Fashion research at design schools. Kolding, Denmark: Kolding School of Design. Smock, W. (2004). The Bauhaus ideal, then and now: An illustrated guide to modernist design. Chicago: Academy Chicago Publishers. Van Zandt, D. (2011). Inaugural Address. Retrieved from http://www.newschool.edu/leadership/president/installation/ Walters, H. (2009, December 14). Inside the design thinking process: The aspen design summit brought together 60 top executives to apply design thinking to large social problems. Bloomberg Businessweek. Retrieved from http://www.businessweek.com/innovate/content/dec2009/id20091214_823878.htm Warner, J. (2010, May 28). The why worry generation: Did boomer parents actually do something. The New York Times Magazine. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/30/magazine/30fob-wwln-t.html?ref=magazine Wax, M. (2010). Out of the Bauhaus and into the future. (Unpublished master's thesis). Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, New York. Wong, C. (Ed.) (2011). Proceedings from Moving forward: Fashion design today. New York, NY: The Fashion Institute of Technology Wong. V. (2009, September 30). How to nurture future leaders: Design thinking brings creative techniques to business. The only problem? No one can agree on how to teach its methods. Bloomberg Businessweek. Retrieved from http://www.businessweek.com/innovate/content/sep2009/id20090930_806435.htm Wolff, L., Rhee, J. (2009, May). Is design the new liberal arts? Re:D, 26(6), 9-13. Yates, M. & Youniss, J. (1996). A developmental perspective on community service in adolescence. Social Development, 5, 85-111


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Appendices


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Appendix A: Online Survey

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Online Survey Data Parsons The New School for Design Bachelors of Fine Arts in Fashion Design, 2008 and 2009 Program Graduates Created by Steven Faerm, October 2011

1) What pre-college experience did you have studying fashion (if any)? Choose more than one if applicable. Response Response Answer Options Percent Count High school courses 28.8% 17 Weekend or after school program 16.9% 10 Studied on my own 35.6% 21 None 22.0% 13 Other 27.1% 16 answered question 59 skipped question 0

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Other: Rhode Island School of Design precollege summer program Summer program at SCAD My parents were in production. They taught me a lot of the business aspect of the industry as well as the hands on (garment construction etc) aspects of the work. Parsons and Otis summer programs RISD pre-college program 2 week summer program Otis summer program summer vacation just before junior year in high school Internship I taught myself how to sew before college, and took some art courses the summer before. I didn't really have much experience before coming to Parsons. RISD pre college program in painting but exposed to fashion Parsons Pre-college summer course Pre-College Program Summer program at RISD Pratt Summer Program Had a small accessories business. Summer internship.

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2) How many internships did you have during college? Answer Options 0 1 2 3 4 5 or more

Response Percent 5.1% 13.6% 16.9% 20.3% 18.6% 25.4% answered question skipped question

Response Count 3 8 10 12 11 15 59 0


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3) Please describe the nature of these internships. Patternmaking, sketching, sewing Mostly assisting the designers: helping to create mood boards, draping/sketching design details, running errands, sourcing materials, organizing materials, setting up the showroom, attending meetings, etc. I interned only during the summer, so I could concentrate on my coursework once school started again. Overall, my internships weren't that intense since I only did it over the summer - just errands, light paperwork, and assisting the pattern maker. I had a broad range of different design internships. I wanted to experience a small high end company, high end large company, and a mid tier. I wanted to take advantage of the time I had to do this, and hoped It would help my decision When choosing a job, or jobs, in the future. A variety of experiences from RTW to mass retail to get an idea of where I fit. These experiences exposed me to the demands, expectations, and reality of the industry on both ends of the spectrum. Also, interned at magazines to get a sense of the editorial end as well as styling shoots. Design internship from small to well known designers. Did everything from sourcing fabrics, doing hand embroideries, design development, sewing actual samples, dealing with production, shows, etc. I worked for a master tailor/costume designer who was a friend of the family. My internship was with a small start up clothing company geared towards math/science oriented men and women. I really saw of all the background work of running a company and what it takes to start on your own. 2 of the 3 were paid internships I earned through school therefore it was more of a mentoring program. They were all great experiences which taught me about the work force before actually entering it. Vivienne Tam, express men's knit dept, billionaire boys club and ice cream, Mahlia Kent weaving studio Paris, some pr work, uniform design, stylist assistant One was throughout the school year helped get ready for fashion week and worked at fashion week. The other started during the summer and was for a smaller company I started interning in high school and had 1 every semester & throughout the summer Sample sewing and construction, pattern rub offs in fur studio. In NY fabric sourcing, runner for sampling team and inspecting garments for production.


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Runner errands around fashion district. Great for finding new options for materials and possibilities. One internship was very design based. Most of my requirements were to research the market, do a few design sketches and send out for the designers to finalize designs. They were based in California so most of my work was sent digitally. Also, worked hands on with the NY showrooms this company worked with. Another internship was production related. Acted as a liaison for designers and factories. Design internships with Marc Jacobs, Alexander Wang, Tracy Reese, Theory, and Vivian Tam Started as general "go-fetch" intern to pattern making intern to design intern. Design intern for a summer and a semester. Mostly filing, sometimes cutting swatches, assisting with mood boards, on a rare occasion cutting patterns into fabric, spread sheets. 1st one: Lots of flat illustration sketches on Adobe Illustrator and making color cards. 2nd one: More of studio type doing taping on the samples for placement of pockets/seamings, making pattern 3rd one: “specing� garments, flat sketches on illustrator, sorting out fabric hangers, making color cards, etc. The first one was at a big company were I did small tasks, which was good to know how those companies work. The second one was at a very small company which gave me another view of the business. Ranged from contemporary to designer. Some involved running errands, other involved actual designing and tech designing. General fashion internships, design, errands, coordinating activities and also as sitting designers I interned at Vogue magazine in the accessories department my freshman year. Then I interned at Rag and Bone in my Sophomore year. I interned at Alexander Wang during the summer after my junior year, and into my senior year. Lastly I interned at Wayne during my senior year. I learned how different companies work at all of them, and got to work with sourcing, factories, sales, public relations, and production which was definitely an invaluable experience when I began looking for a job. I interned in production and design. They were hands on and I felt they helped me in my courses while I was in school. Finishing garments, sewing samples, dyeing swatches, organizing the showroom, dressing models, research, copying sketches and organizing them.


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1. Stella Nolasco: Summer experience-assisted at her atelier 2. Express Design Studio: 2 year summers/school year experience- rotated between Menswear, Womenswear, Graphics, Accessories, and Fabric R&D Departments 3. Alexander McQueen: 2 weeks-assisted during market week preparations Design internships with a smaller and another larger Fashion Company...both designer price range Menswear Isaac Mizrahi menswear S2V (pattern making) Design assisting roles Sourcing and working with fabrics in house and around garment district Flat sketching Minor assisting in other areas of the business such as PR, sales, production, and tech design Insightful and personal Internships ranged in what they demanded--- organized swatch library's-- cad work for tech packs - sending packages -- organizing ad samples - checking in samples and logging packages - setting up showroom space - organizing inventory and closets Worked in high end and low end. Got great sewing experience in high end and good market experience in low end. At an independent lifestyle magazine, I was an editorial assistant. Not efficient enough to prepare me for after college work. These internships consisted of simple work and not enough "real" experience. I interned with independent designers and corporate companies in design, sales, and graphics departments. Organizing stuff, coffee runs!! Delivering stuff, patter making, excel production sheets Sophomore year I worked at the semi-couture studio for Isaac Mizrahi. It was great because I helped with the patterns among other things and this boosted my skills for studio methods. Later I worked with Carla Westcott. She had been my teacher and again I learned skills that helped with methods. Junior year I worked at Bruce. The girls were great, It was good to see a young/small label and be involved or at least observe all aspects of their business. Protos, Sourcing, preparing for Runway, finishing, PR, etc. Senior year I was at Calvin Klein Accessories. This was great because it was a much larger company and I saw how different level design teams worked within a large iconic brand. And of course, I got my first job after school because of that. Variety: Custom Tailor Designer-level company Bridge-level Mass Market Sample Room


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Good learning experience beyond classes at Parsons I had to work a paying job to support myself for most of the time at Parsons, so my one internship was over the summer vacation at DDC Lab creating Technical Packs. I held a part time job throughout the entire time at college at a PR/Wholesale Office of a French Lingerie Label. Stylist assisting One of them was terrible. I was basically the coffee girl and ran errands. Did not teach me anything about fashion. The others were much better. I basically did the work of an assistant designer. This showed me the type of work I would start to do at my first job. It also prepared me for the hours most fashion jobs required. Worked for PR companies doing a lot of errands, forced me to know a lot of designers, and understood how important to see how many diff. markets there was within the fashion industry. Design companies from low to high price points, being in Parsons we tend to only think about the High price point because all of professors wanted us to know the high price point designs but what we really need to learn is how to MAKE EXPENSIVE CLOTHES not just design them because in the real work you need to know all the expensive stitchings, finishes to be able to design it at a high price point but I felt like parsons REALLY neglected that. I would only help out during fashion week, mostly for friends who interned during the school year. I personally couldn't intern, get my work done and keep sane so I interned during the summer going into my senior year. I paid for college myself so I had to work every other summer until I was offered a paid internship with Reebok. Design internships in apparel, shoes, jewelry and accessory design. Some were paid some were not paid. I work in high end fashion house. My last internship I was there for over a year. Being there for a long period of time really helped me to understand fashion as a business. Usual running around for designers.. Trim fabric research, dying fabrics, cutting/ duplicating patterns, purchasing fabric &trims Running errands, cleaning, organizing, etc. Worked with production (seamstresses) and creative director in semi-couture collection Very basic, lots of grunt work


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4) What aspects of your college experience were MOST helpful for your transition into the industry? Select as many as appropriate. Response Response Answer Options Percent Count Courses taken 62.7% 37 Internships 71.2% 42 Part-time work 23.7% 14 Personal relations with faculty 33.9% 20 School-run events 22.0% 13 Peers 40.7% 24 Others (please specify) 7 answered question 59 skipped question 0

OTHER: Clearly courses based on technique such as pattern making and digital were useful. Working with my parents Learning how to balance life with the amount of work we had and deadlines. Critiques I strongly advise doing a SMALLER thesis because it really pushes the way we think in terms of how to really start and finish from concept to development. That is REALLY IMPORTANT


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to learn and I feel like I didn't really learn how to do that at Parsons. Peers and courses taken, just for the knowledge gained. Internships and faculty for the recommendations. Difficult curriculum to provide confidence in stressful situations and confidence that I can do anything after successfully completing school!

5)

Please talk about the one that was MOST helpful.

.

My internships helped the most. Seeing how a company operates & the opportunity to work at different level companies (from high end ready to wear to mass market chains), gave me a fuller understanding of what a real design job requires. It also informed my decision on what type of design & company I'd like to work for when I graduated. Definitely internships since you already get a first-hand experience what the industry is all about. I have interned for both small companies and somewhat corporate companies, and I could see from a bird's eye view how they differently they operate.

I think internships were extremely important because you learn how to work for someone else creatively. You can't learn that in a classroom! Internships were the most important aspect of my experience that ended up getting me a job. The name 'Parsons' helped get the foot in the door but my ability to speak to experience, knowing my way around an office, and generally knowing the processes within a company ultimately paid off. Internships. While school was great for developing my own personal skills, the only way to get a job was through internship connections. 90% of employees were interns at some point or were recommended by another internship. Many didn't even attend design school. It wasn't a specific course so much as it was the discipline, and confidence that naturally becomes instilled after 4 years of a Parsons' design curriculum. (bouncing back from a bad critique, learning to time manage, learning to articulate your ideas...etc) The other aspect of my college experience most useful with transitioning into the industry was honestly myself. In my opinion, the fashion program at parsons did not have teachers - merely people who were great in their industry and gave us direction of what to do but did not TEACH us what to do. Relying solely on myself truly made me grow as a person - and a designer. I personally found foundation year to be an amazing experience - with lots of growth and learning as I had many amazing professors. Foundation year truly built my eye, and my mind, as a designer. Some aspects of the fashion program layered onto this, but unfortunately not as


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much as I hoped and not as much as a school of this caliber should. Career fair that takes place at the end of the year definitely was a huge help to get my foot into the work industry. It made it easier to reach contacts in order to find a job. Really getting to know my peers helped me to develop long term relationships for the industry Internships, real world application Working with my Peers I think was the MOST helpful. It helped push yourself and encourage each other. We were in an environment in which we were constantly growing and feeding of one another creativity. Courses (Concepts) especially junior & senior year Learning from others on construction and being able to compete w talented people. Friends that have internships and connections. They are usually willing to help as long as it doesn't interfere with their own success. As time goes by parson's grads are more willing to share and help as they realize there is enough of the industry to go around. Working with my parents only because you deal with real responsibilities. (money matters, deadlines etc) Internships The faculty did well giving insight into all aspects of the industry, not just sitting at a desk making tech packs. It was great to talk about freelance, full-time, etc. as well as positions other than that of designer. Existing internships help with networking and gain insight into how a company’s design process works internally. It also allows you to see if your personality will mesh with the company's staff. Internship Related skills from the classes especially illustrator/photoshop/presentation/critiquing As to the fashion program, pattern making and CAD was very helpful in transitioning into the industry as starting as ASSITANT DESIGNER. In the industry when you are starting out, they want someone with SKILLS that they can go ahead and use. In terms of that you HAVE to know how to make tech packs on your own. Peers and school relations are the most important thing!


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The most helpful internship I had was at Narciso Rodriguez where I learned the entire process from choosing fabrics, research and inspiration, to runway show. Gave me the most experience dealing closely with designer production. Teachers- they act as mentors in many ways and it's helpful to be guided through the 4 years. it's the most rewarding and fruitful relationship to have as an students The foundation that Parsons taught me definitely was the most important for my development as a designer. By having a strong basis, and knowledge of the technical sides of design- you can make what you want and become a stronger designer in the long run. Although Parsons was great in this sense. I do believe that it could have been better. I do wish my technical knowledge was even better before getting a job, so that it wouldn't be as much of a struggle to quickly learn a lot of it once you have your first job. Internships. School will teach you about aspects of the industry in theory but nothing compares to what you learn when you are actually in it. Talking to my teachers, and getting advice on how to achieve what I wanted to achieve was the most important and most helpful aspect. Internships during college time were not very helpful, as it was very often work that did not give me any clue of what to expect after school and in the Real fashion industry. School competitions, and the competitive environment during school and in class was also helpful and taught me how to fight in the industry already! The more inspiring people I had around me, the better I developed my skills. Internships: it opened doors to future job opportunities as well as it gave you a taste of what the future possible jobs would be. Word of mouth and recommendations because I always tried to be as involved as possible while in school Meeting friends and building up contacts is the most important. Being around people who will pursue the same design field with you and help you to find jobs and create more contacts within the field is very important. Fashion marketing business & concept method courses I think internships were the most helpful because it allows you to really see what its like on a regular basis, especially if you interned 3 days or more per week. It also allows for that company's owner/designers get to know you and also network within the industry. The courses help shape your goals and realize what you want to achieve. I would say that concepts helped most --- I often now rely on my sketching skills and trend/ inspiration board for translation into the products I design. Although my job now demands that these inspiration boards reflect current celebrity trends, I construct them the same way and


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design from them as I did in concepts. Personal relations with faculty got me most of my internships/jobs or led me in the right direction. AND they are still my good friends. For the majority of my time, I had a part time job in order to support myself financially. The ability to manage my time and be financially independent, alone, was a helpful learning experience. Also, learning skills outside of art/fashion, such as communication skills, running a small business, and management have increased my knowledge on how to apply my design skills in life. Having close relationships w/ teachers enabled me to realize what jobs were looking for once we were out of school but unfortunately neither the courses taken or the relationship w/ the teachers could prepare for industry experience. Networking was the most helpful. Interning starting at a young age helped me to progress from one place to the next. In Concepts class we made great professional portfolios. I think internships were definitely what made the difference, working with a wide range of companies before graduating. After that I would put personal relations with faculty. I got lucky with my teachers and they remain great advisors. Of course the courses taken were important because without the knowledge I would have nothing. Internships that help you figure out what kind of professional work environment works for you. Being from "Parsons" made me more likely to be selected among others from different fashion schools. The intensity of the courses and the amount of work assigned. I came out knowing how to timemanage anything that life could throw at me. The courses gave me the proper vocabulary and knowledge base. the internship helped me network. My internships were the most helpful. They showed me what I would be doing as an assistant designer as well as the hours put in for the job. I learned what type of company I wanted to work for - corporate versus smaller company. They also gave me great connections. I have to say they are equal with the course work. We had to learn time management and had a very demanding work load which prepared you or at least allowed you to know what you can handle. This is the same at most fashion companies. The school run events were great too. It got me an interview for my first job. I wasn't contacted until 3 months after the event (originally thought it was a waste of time standing in long lines to meet with recruiters only having time to meet a few) but I made a contact that landed me my first job.


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Senior thesis was very important but I wish we had done more projects like that rather then troubling ourselves with one jacket. Also we should have learned how to create things that were more in tailoring in depth. My internship led me to getting a job with Reebok the moment I graduated. The past two companies I have worked for rely on illustrator capabilities which I acquired during my internship. I wish school focused a little more on computerized flats. Internship was the MUST. Technical skills learnt in class. I feel that internships were the most helpful because I was able to learn how a business actually works. Being in the classroom was a creative time. When you enter the workplace, actually sitting down and creating is a smaller part of the job Draping - knowledge of construction helps design process Digital classes are important for obvious reasons in today's industry truthfully all three classes were extremely important. My peers were most helpful because we were experiencing all of the unexpected things about getting a job together. So we spoke about it, and expressed our likes and dislikes which is a healthy way to transition, and the most helpful. My internships were the most helpful aspect of my experience. It was my internships which taught me the "real-world" skills and created an attractive resume. Faculty helped me get the internships, and peers supported me greatly!

. 6)

What aspects of your college experience were LEAST helpful for

your transition into the industry? Select as many as appropriate. Answer Options

Response Percent

Response Count


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Courses taken Internships Part-time work Personal relations with faculty School-run events Peers Others (please specify)

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31.3% 12.5% 10.4% 25.0% 54.2% 18.8% answered question skipped question

15 6 5 12 26 9 12 48 11


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Other: It all helps in some way. I do wish Parsons helped more in getting into contact with companies. There is so much competition out there that sending a resume isn't good enough you need to be referred. Courses not taken/not offered I do not remember any school run events that stand out as having helped me transition Some courses were very helpful, but some courses i feel just exaggerated a lot of the actual experiences one would go through in the REAL world. Everything was so "packaged" at school. Liberal courses Maybe concept class although this will be helpful when you start your own line or become designer/design director level. Concept class is more about making your portfolio, so I can't really only say for concept class but maybe for the whole atmosphere of Parsons fashion department. I think all were helpful. Internships gave me a look inside one specific company, but as I was very often just a unpaid secretary, it did not really help me to transition into the industry. I think they all were. Lack of space & equipment How difficult it was to complete my senior thesis while trying to perfect my portfolio and apply for jobs.


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7) Please talk about the one that was LEAST helpful

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.

Certain courses proved to be the least informative/ uninformative. The course for fashion business gave no real information on what it requires to start/run a business. Most of the information given wasn't even relevant to the way business is run currently. It would've been much more helpful to have a class that lasted more than one semester, & gave you actual factual information & skills that'd help a young designer operate in the modern market. Especially with the increase in small businesses & start-ups, & even things like Etsy, Parsons should be doing more to make sure their graduates are ready to take their career into their own hands, instead of leaving them to fend for themselves without the right tools. Some of the courses I had to take weren't helpful, such as the liberal arts. The events in the auditorium were not always the beat, although it does open your eyes to a new product or offering in the market. While the competitive nature prepared me for the industry in general...I did not find my peers to be particularly helpful. The classes I took were helpful, but I felt there were aspects of the industry that our curriculum never touched upon (or else none of my teachers ever did) There are certain things about the industry that I was embarrassed to admit I didn't know anything about, i.e. tech packs, spec sheets, (anything technical really), production vocabulary (TOP, SMS, protos, lab-dips, etc) ....A basic technical design/production class would have really been useful. All were helpful. Internships give you a peak into how different companies are run but honestly were not very helpful. I didn't learn too much about the industry with any of the tasks i was ever given and felt like I was completely taken advantage of. Negativity from faculty & students. I loved a good amount of my professors, but many were either on competition for work, had a chip on their shoulder about past failures, or had been out of the industry too long to really help with job connections. Some courses were very helpful, but some courses i feel just exaggerated a lot of the actual experiences one would go through in the REAL world. Everything was so "packaged" at school. Felt like being in New York we should have been able to take more field trips and visited more design studios, factories, fabric suppliers, etc. It was least useful for me since most of my opportunities were through my network.


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I feel that the courses were misleading in terms of industry realities. I wish there could be more integration of the 2. Also I wanted to be able to explore fashion while in school and never felt like I had the chance to do that in any of the courses. It felt more like a factory. It forced the students to have fantastic work ethic, but not a lot of attention to a specific voice, which I feel is the most important part of a fashion designer. Felt like being in New York we should have been able to take more field trips and visited more design studios, factories, fabric suppliers, etc. I feel that the courses were misleading in terms of industry realities. I wish there could be more integration of the 2. Also I wanted to be able to explore fashion while in school and never felt like I had the chance to do that in any of the courses. It felt more like a factory. It forced the students to have fantastic work ethic, but not a lot of attention to a specific voice, which I feel is the most important part of a fashion designer. It was least useful for me since most of my opportunities were through my network. School run events. Although courses were interesting, they were lacking in real-world industry necessities, wish were more taught about the nature of fabrics, and more of the business side of fashion. I don't think the events were planned to create contact with people of the industry, except for few people! While it was great that our concept courses helped to define our own sense of style and process, this ultimately did not help in finding an industry job where creativity and vision is not required in entry level jobs. Although I am close with a lot of the faculty, there is definitely a strong sense of favoritism from a lot of the faculty, making me feel especially distant from the school, especially now that I have graduated. I almost feel unwelcome, when I know many of the favorite students remain to feel a part of Parsons. This is very disappointing because I believe that Parsons should always feel like a home. Student career services is nowhere near as helpful as it should be. Along with thatParsons should really watch out more for their students being very taken advantage of at internships in the industry. Although I loved Parsons and very proud to have attended, there are definitely a lot of things that could be improved upon, and I think would create a more conducive transition into the real world. There should really be more of a community once you graduate, that should be initiated by the school. After all, one of the best things about Parsons is those you meet and the connections you make. I also felt that a lot of the faculty was more helpful with the favorites, when I believe that being that Parsons is such an amazing school- there is a place for all of the students in the industry. Parsons should be more helpful with its career services and graduates in helping people fresh out of college to find positions. We had school-run events?


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Internships gave me a look inside one specific company, but as I was very often just a unpaid secretary, it did not really help me to transition into the industry. I still believe that internships are important on a CV, as they are at least a tiny bit of "work experience". Work experience is in the all you have when you leave school. You have a degree like everyone else, you have a solid portfolio (which is subjective as always in the fashion industry), and there is the name of the school that you graduated at, that might help you. That is all you have when you apply for that one first job. But what people want is work experience and the knowledge of HOW to apply properly. Some non fashion related courses. I enjoyed them but I don't see how they helped me with my career. Other than make me well rounded and introduced me to classmates in other areas of design. We are not prepared with our portfolios and face that a job in fashion, to begin is basically sitting and doing FLATS and for as talented as you may be, a lot of times when they are looking to hire someone it might not even matter which I found most disappointing...they just need someone to get the job done and you need to look like you can. I found that internships didn't really help me. Sometimes the environment becomes too competitive I would say much of the work that I did in class was busy work and work that you never do in the industry --- digital design for example. It is helpful to know how to make a perfect repeat or plaid, but most of my Digital work involves more in depth cad work with photoshop (not illustrator flats, as I learned). Also - I wish I learned now to sketch technically for factories and such to follow. We send all our hand drawn sketches now ( never digital cads) and if they Are illustrated in a fanciful manor, they won’t be made properly. Tech packs and stuff for garments / shoes were never really enforced as being important. Gauche was a waste of time when I rarely even have time now for marker. School-run events didn't reflect the reality of the industry very well, however fun they may have been. I may have gone to a lecture or two, but I don't remember any influential school run events. If there were, I obviously did not fully understand how it would be helpful or they were not communicated well to me. I also saw school events more targeted towards design students rather than design professionals-soon-to-be. There was just an equal amount of classes that helped me understand and prepare for work but there were also just the same amount that didn't help me at all. I wish the teachers taught you how to pattern more properly, grade from existing patterns and help us understand industry standards for specs. All of that I have learned outside of school.


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After working in the industry for a few years, I feel that computer courses should be one of the feature components to a college course load, especially in menswear. Although the theses presentation proved very valuable, the job fair was pretty much only good for practicing interview skills and I always found the career services useless. It's just by a case by case basis but some people, such as myself, are not great at "networking". Not learning about the "tech packs" and other electives with fashion industry in depth Some of the courses expected the student to already know certain basics of construction (which I did not) so I struggled heavily to make it through. My teachers would seem annoyed with me because I didn't arrive with these skills to begin with. Most of the kids picked up lessons faster because they had done them before on their own prior to arriving at Parsons, where I needed "more guidance". The faculty seemed out of touch with the working world. Lack of space and equipment caused problems with using the computer labs or having space to do work. Parsons professors always say during critiques that the students work is not good enough I think what they should really focus on is if they can really speak to a certain market and motivate them better, show them what would make the design better, what stitchings would help their collections stronger instead of JUST THEIR OPINIONS. I think the students are so busy TRYING TO PLEASE all the professors / Dean that they lose track of who they are. There's also way too much politics going on in that university that students tend to lose track of what they are really trying to say through their designs. I slightly dumbed down my thesis to pieces I was comfortable making and didn't enter many competitions because I wanted to focus my energy on setting up a job. Career services was TERRIBLE in terms of preparing graduates for interviews, resumes and what to expect after graduation. Academia is so different from the industry and no one explains to you the difference. You are under the impression that all of your talents will be utilized in the real world but they are disregarded, and that was a shocker. That should've been something we knew. The only professors which really impacted my learning were those in Parsons Paris. I had an unpleasant experience with most of my fashion professors at Parsons NYC. Very few school events to teach us at the time.


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8) College prepared me well for the transition into industry through SKILLS learned. Response Response Answer Options Percent Count I strongly agree 8.5% 5 I agree 50.8% 30 I somewhat agree 30.5% 18 I disagree 3.4% 2 I strongly disagree 6.8% 4 answered question 59 skipped question 0

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9) College prepared me well for the EMOTIONAL transition into industry. Response Response Answer Options Percent Count I strongly agree 28.8% 17 I agree 25.4% 15 I somewhat agree 23.7% 14 I disagree 16.9% 10 I strongly disagree 6.8% 4 answered question 59 skipped question 0

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10) The transition from school into industry was an easy and fluid one for me. Response Response Answer Options Percent Count I strongly agree 17.5% 10 I agree 28.1% 16 I somewhat agree 26.3% 15 I disagree 19.3% 11 I strongly disagree 8.8% 5 answered question 57 skipped question 0

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11) How did you prepare for the transition from school to industry, if anything? many as possible.

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Please list as

Going to the job fairs at school -Doing research online -Talking to the designers I interned with The economy was at its bleak period when I graduated, but I still made sure my portfolio is at its best, and made my resume as impressive as I can. So, I went as many interviews, both internships and full-time jobs. I interned every year I was at Parsons. This gave me a glimpse of what the industry was REALLY like. You can talk about the industry in school, but until you have experienced it first hand, you have no clue what it is like. I hadn't taken that many internships while in school, so I interned after graduating for a while, but they don't pay money, so I ended up working retail for a year to get by. Graduating during the height of the recession definitely did not help, so as I looked for a full time job, I took on an internship in accessories (although I had trained in womenswear and was more interesting to me). I left to work for a company when I found a full-time job I was happy with and a year and a half later was asked back to take the position of the woman I interned for. I have been back for almost two years and was recently promoted. The lesson learned is that although the situation is not always ideal - as long as you are working towards your end goals you will get closer... and closer. Internships Internships, Part-time jobs, organized fashion events and shows. It was seamless, transitioning from the hard work ethic used for senior thesis made it possible to maintain the momentum & quickly find a place in the industry Personal contacts, setting up plans to intern /work part time for magazines and small design house. The job just landed in my hands. Finding a job wasn't an issued. Important aspects we do not learn at Parsons is documenting office work. (excel spreadsheets, Optitex/Gerber, social interactions-networking has a HUGE impact on where you will end up etc) Re-tooled my resume and kept my portfolio as current as possible. Internships and reading fashion books and WWD every day. A long vacation to mentally reset Redoing my portfolio for each interview -- I think this is key. Too many of us graduate with the belief that our portfolio remains static. This is a result of years of focusing on finding ourselves/aesthetic/etc as designers and that culminates in our senior


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thesis. So it takes some longer than others (particularly those that were successful in school) to adapt their portfolio to the company they are applying for. Building up portfolio Portfolio preparation. I didn't prepare anything other than putting effort in the internships. Being professional, fast and efficient. Having several internships definitely helped. This familiarized me with dealing with factories, working in a team, and working with choosing cost effective materials. Portfolio and relationships Internships, interviewing people who are currently in the fashion industry. learning from them I worked extremely hard at getting the right job for me. I turned down a few offers, because they didn't feel right. It is important when you are young to try and stay true to yourself, and not settle. Because, if you can’t do that when you're young, then when can you? I worked as a visual merchandiser at Opening Ceremony for a year and a half before finding a position that I was a great first stepping stone for my career. Worked on portfolio and applied to many different types of jobs. I did internships in every free time I had. That is all I did, and I wish I would have understood earlier, that one needs to prepare and apply for jobs already by the middle of the final year to get a head start. I continuously worked on a great portfolio during an after school time. I started to apply for jobs the semester prior to graduation as well as prepared a portfolio of work. reaching out to everyone I possibly knew, having smaller internship experiences to meet more people...portfolios, making books I took a year off after college to rest. After school my body and mind was exhausted. Once I was mentally ready to get into work, I was hired right away and I find working in the industry is much easier than going through Parsons. I made sure to do lots of internships with companies I was interested in. Also, choosing companies that really are special and individual allowed me to see different aspects of the market/industry. Example: TIBI - print house, TSE Cashmere - Knit specialty. Developing and getting to know industry professionals allowed me to learn professionalism in the work place.


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Freelancing, interviewing constantly to network There was no time to prepare- work began the week after graduation I did another internship after school, then began working as a shoe design assistant/part-time teaching. Not to be misinterpreted, I fully enjoyed my experience at parsons and don't regret my choice in attending. I believe economic and personal circumstance were the main factors in my transition. While finishing school, I really had no understanding of what was needed for this transition. I was focused on the task at hand which was school work. I interviewed with many people after graduation through job websites and whomever I knew personally in the industry. As I mentioned, I was interning my senior year at Calvin. I had wanted to find an internship at a large company where I would at least have a chance of getting hired. I worked very hard Senior fall and they asked me to come back for a summer internship. My friends said, why would you want to be an intern after you graduate? To which I replied, I would rather be a paid intern associated with a company than unemployed. I got very lucky and by August they offered me a full time position. Err. Made a portfolio. Working on self-promotion (web portfolio, in-person portfolio, resume, etc.) and job hunting I took a lot of internships, worked on my own stuff. Basically you have to have integrity and belief in your own work. When I graduated, I found time in my schedule to complete more internships, make more connections, and get more experience outside of the classroom. I completed my portfolio of my schoolwork and attempted to meet with designers I wanted to work with. I applied to 10 jobs a week every week even if it wasn't a job I really wanted. It at least made me better at interviews. But persistence is what kept getting me jobs which was tough when I would apply to 20 hear back from 3 go on an interview for 2 and not get anything and start all over again. I would email my contacts and see if there were any positions available. I spoke to my teachers to see if any jobs were available. It was important to have my friends also in the industry experiencing the same things. Getting to vent and learn from them was very important. Prepared portfolio, resume and teaser pages. Made networking connections and used school resources (faculty, career services, etc) as much as possible. I had A LOT of internships


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I had friends and family from other colleges prep me for interviews and how to present myself. By working hard on my portfolio. I had many personal connections which I fostered outside of school, which led to internships and work opportunities. Nothing

12) What role, if any, did Parsons Career Services play in your transition? Other than the Career Fair, very little. The most they did was to post internships on the bulletin board. They offered very little help or information & resources in getting a job once I had graduated. Very little. They looked over my resume(which my teachers did as well) and when I told them companies I was interested in and if they had contacts to them, they said they were not allowed to give contacts away...I was kind of shocked to be honest. What was the point of having career services if they can't place you? I was a good student did very well, and interned every year of school as well as in the summer...I hope it has changed. I found most of my jobs through the online career board. None, at all. Career fair None None, but I know they have helped several of my classmates None None. I could have been more proactive using Thierry services, but it would help if we had a set time during senior year for one on one meetings. I also suggest a mandatory internship as a course. We did too many croquis and finals. There is room to remove time from core to insert a 3-6 hr wkly internship junior year. I think a small business course as an elective would be great. All this is null if you add without removing. There is no time for a student to add an internship, business class, etc to the current curriculum, unless you remove/replace requirements.


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Parsons career services is a great tool for any alumni! None A few interviews with companies. The staff was very friendly and helpful. Yes my current job was found at one of the career event None Support Nothing None None Help to open more doors and opportunities I tried meeting with Career Services, but overall felt that it was very unsuccessful. I understand that you need to fend for yourself in the real world, but its disappointing that our career services isn't much better than it is. Didn't really help although I have made several appointments with them. Almost none. I contacted them many times, but as a European, I did not get much help. They said that the industry is so different and that what I am doing and how I am applying for jobs is exactly the right thing. I would have wished for more advice, as I did ask them during my studies and after my graduation. What I liked was the work on my CV that I did with them. Other than that I believe it is very important to tell students at a very early stage that they have to contact the career services to plan their future. The Career Services were not present enough. They help me get internships as well as possible job interviews. As soon as I got laid off my first job I called back for help and felt a bit rejected by them. Reviewing and guiding how to write CV was helpful. Zero. It’s not very helpful, they just edit your resume and tell you obvious things that in being a Parsons educated individual you usually already know....being a professional etc. None


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Careers Services definitely helped with early on events such as having industry designers and professionals speak to us in groups. Also, Career Service's advice on resume writing really helped as well. A support system I met the company in. A parsons career fair I got my first shoe job through the person I interviewed with for my teaching job. None. Absolutely none. Their response was to look at the website and that was the extend of their help and guidance. I got maybe 1 or 2 interviews through the Career Service website, I found other recruiting sites most helpful if any. None. Yes I got an email from parson about a job at JCREW and i applied and got the job. also got another job at the eco job fair. This was great however if i hadn't had been so lucky i don't know where i would have found work. Not really helped finding either internships during school or job openings upon graduation. I found all my internships and full time job (current) without the help of career services. None. They played a minimal role in my transition. They signed me up on the career website which has been successful in finding a job. None in the beginning. But when I applied for my second job, at Converse, Career services helped a tremendous amount because they directly contacted HR for me. NONE Online job site They played a huge role. The Career fairs were very helpful and got me my first job. Erin helped me find a recruiter when I was desperate. I found all of my jobs on my own. Nothing


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13) Did you experience any surprises entering the professional environment after school? What were they? The economic downturn severely paralyzed the industry making it very difficult to find a job. Very few companies were hiring, let alone those who would offer a recent graduate anything other than an unpaid internship. Also, the whole process of job hunting, interviewing, & finding the resources for job listing were something I wasn't prepared for. These things weren't really touched upon at school so I went in with very little to no idea/preparation on how to navigate in the job market. Not really Not really. It was what I expected, but that was really because I was warned a lot at my internships about how hard it was. Well...there was that surprise recession right before graduation. I was surprised to realize how much emphasis companies put on technical and production knowledge (that I didn't have any of at first) I wasn't prepared for how easily companies will take advantage of a young (desperate) designer who is just trying to get their foot in anywhere he/she can. I was put in some very miserable situations before realizing that I had a right to be valued as an employee and designer. Being able to understand company’s aesthetics and designing for the consumer and not yourself. I didn't actually know the literal steps involved in running and starting a business That the emphasis on CAD work is much greater then is focused during school. Parsons should have put a much larger importance on the CAD classes and integrated them with concepts more. Yes, what exactly I was looking for in an employer. Realizing what kind of company i want to work for, its different than what I thought when first graduating. The market crash! Besides this, there is very little designing initially. I never learned how to spec in school!! computer skills are extremely more important than faculty stressed. Of course. you're prone to new experiences every day. You encounter different people on a daily basis and you learn to deal/interact with them accordingly. The fact that tech packs are pretty much all that you do for a while and I was never taught one in the 4 years at parsons. That there is a lot of important things that you don't learn I'm an extreme case due to my age and previous experience which actually worked against me during interviews. But I was prepared for what always is a very rough transition.


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No. I expected it is similar to my previous internships. People were slightly nicer No, since I knew from internship. It was quite a shock from transitioning from your thesis which you gave blood, sweat, and tears for, to a company that was very different from your own aesthetic and were expected to dedicate all your time to a product you ultimately didn't care for. No No I suppose the way the industry takes advantage of students through internships. There needs to be more protection of students by the school, and more warning before graduating. I believe that students should only intern during college, and not be allowed to after. If this means internship for credit, then I believe that all internships should be for credit. It is not fair to be trapped working real jobs for free for years. There are still people who graduated in 2009 with me who are interning!! I graduated in a bad economy and I think school didn't prepare me for that. I wish I had tried other types of internships other than design in college. I was surprised about a lot of things after school. I learnt in a long and pretty painful way that I did not know how to apply to companies in a proper way. It was a long and thorough research that I had to go through to understand how to get a foot into a company. I was a bit surprised that an internship in a company after school was not at all a sure way to get a job in that company. I found out that everyone had the same plan, we were all in these "dream" fashion companies as interns and hoped to be " discovered" and to get a proper job after a couple of months. In 90% of the cases and people I know, it did not work that way. I had to learn that you can almost only get into a company through personal connections and through showing a convincing personality. Yes, after proving to be an excellent student (grade wise); punctual, hardworking, determined, social, I got laid-off my first job. I never experienced such thing. I understand our job industry was affected due to the economic situation but never expected people to be so heartless and unprofessional during such a delicate process. Not really Yes. I was surprised how much easier it was than going through school I think salary is one that might surprise designers overall at entry level. Not surprised. I felt well prepared


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Not really NO JOBS FOR NEWBIES (at least with an okay income). However, was very surprised to be able to supplement my living very well doing freelance illustration. Very much so. Economic hardships mainly, and lack of work. I was well aware that the fashion industry is very difficult and far from glamorous, but the most difficult things to deal with were personal. What meaning did design have in my life? What kind of professional environment did I belong in? It's more technical then creative. Just learning about the corporate calendar. How things work with overseas factories. I was given a whole new education in fabric and washes which I did not learn in school. I think the biggest challenge was dealing with the politics and how that can tax relationships in a corporate setting. As hierarchical as school is, with teachers and peers, Business is not the same. No matter how friendly you get with your supervisor/boss/coworkers, your boss is still your boss and as much as they may teach you, unlike teachers, not all of them are completely supportive when push comes to shove. They spend a lot of money copying other designers designs!!! Parsons was very focused on the concept and philosophy behind fashion, which is great but I felt very limited with available jobs as I was trained for 'higher-end designer customers'. What I realized outside Parsons was that majority of fashion industry is less of that and my fellow graduates from Parsons and myself having a hard time adjusting to that... Most of us settled for places that we don't believe in but to get benefits and pay the bills. Just the dearth of jobs. Yes. You needed to know people within the company you wanted to work for, if not there was a very small chance you would get anything but another internship offered as work. A BFA from Parsons was one factor you need to land a real job, but it no longer is a main factor. No surprises more of a reality check. Long hours and some crazy co-workers. Not as much design & creativity as school was. Yes, reality of costing, the restrictions of mass market and overwhelming requirement for being strong in computerized flats. It's very competitive and deceiving very shallow. Taking a refresher math class in college would have been helpful. Also being taught microsoft excel and web PDM would have been very helpful.


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Yes! You don't actually get to design anything!!! No personality, all Commercial products, no fun!! In school your personal style, and wonderful talents are cultivated, and strongly encouraged with every project. We pour our hearts in our work. Unless you graduate and work for yourself, it was almost for nothing. I was surprised at the amount of opportunities that school did not prepare me for - specifically, digital, online jobs.

14) How have your professional goals changed during your transition? Please describe. Parsons emphasizes & exalts this idea of the designer as a creative artist for the runway but the reality is that it's a sliver of the industry. My goals are to design real products that can reach an audience who will actually wear the clothes & utilize them in real life; instead of the conceptual runway pieces I thought I'd be making. Also my focus has veered from trying to get a job at a company that would impress people & give me a sense of prestige to getting a job where I respect the product, love the work environment & co-workers, & that doesn't encroach on my life outside of work. After a year into my current job, I still have the desire to branch out on my own, have my own company, as much as I did as a student I always thought I would work for a company for many years. After a year of still looking for a job and interning...I decided to start my own line. Best decision I have ever made. I used to want to work at a small company where I knew all the ins and outs and then eventually start my own small company. NOW I will only work at large companies that can afford to pay me properly for the work I do...including overtime hours, offer benefits, offer a possibility to move up in the company,. I also take into consideration the environment and social integrity of any company I agree to work for. I have absolutely no intent to start my own company anymore. I just want to get paid to do what I enjoy from 9-5, and then go out and tend to the rest of my life. It took me a long time to realize that I didn't want my career to be my life. During the interview process, my desire to have my own company grew and I became much more passionate about the ideals of said company. It helped me add more to my business plan and really plan a clear direction as I find it sad that this industry, that makes me weak in the knees, has many people making it an unpleasant experience. Always dreamt of having my own clothing line but now look to move up levels within established companies.


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The focus is on getting my idea into the market versus dreaming up concepts I am more aware that the business side of fashion is just as much of a passion for me as the creative side. They have pretty much remained the same I have learned new skills that have led me from women's wear high fashion to a desire to work in children's wear and/or for a large company with 9-5. I used to think I could go straight into starting my own company. This was when I was naive. Ha! I see what a money monster it is to build your own collection. I learned so much after graduation. Still learning. I would give it at least 5 years working hands on from development to production to sales. I was extremely fortunate to experience all this within two years after graduation. I changed my mind for the typical fantasy of luxury to a more realistic and lucrative mass-market I've had to take a parallel track in another industry to grow my brand, business experience, and resources (financial and personnel). Over time my next couple companies will be more involved in the clothing design/retail industries, but for now I needed to build a business in an industry where I can actually calculate and have some control over risk mitigation whether it be in sales, stock, marketing, design, networks, etc. The hurdles for entry into fashion are monumental due to saturation/competition, overly complex cash-flow process, and manufacturing limitations. Not to just be successful but to be happy at every moment, that way, i wont regret no matter where I am who i am what I do (too much stuff to take care of if you only concern about success/promotion) While in school the idea of working for a big company was the goal, after working for yourself became the goal. Trying to change categories (menswear, womenswear, childrenswear, knits, outerwear, etc) is very difficult once you get yourself into that category, so making transition from different category is my goal right now. After having several jobs in fashion already, I am somewhat discouraged from staying in the industry. College was amazing in that it gave me an opportunity to realize my own collection from start to finish and define my own identity as a designer, but working in the fashion industry requires blind dedication to clothes that, for the most part, are not challenging or interesting or innovative--everything that Parsons encouraged. The main trait needed to succeed in the industry that I've learned is to blindly give yourself up for garments that sell. This has nothing to do with how I defined myself as a designer during school and has lead me to believe that this industry is not for me unless I decide to start my own line or keep fashion as a hobby.


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It's still pretty much the same. They have stayed the same. Yes. I had to intern and freelance for a while after college. I learned that while I still love the creative side of fashion I also love the business. I am currently working in retail at Saks and I am trying to into an executive training program. I would like to be a buyer. My professional goals have not changed, although I made, in my opinion, a huge step back after my successful time at Parsons. I did not get a job right away and had to learn a lot of things on my own to understand how to find a way into a good company in a financial time where absolutely no fashion jobs were on the market. I did feel left alone with that problem, but on the other hand I did see that many of my classmates and people in fashion I know had the same problem. Somehow I thought I would get that one great job at my favorite company right away, I was very unrealistic about how fast a fashion career can built up. My goals are still the same, and they are very high, but the pace and the way I have to go to achieve those goals has changed a lot compared to how I thought I could make it right after school. When I was in school I wanted to get a job with a great designer and work my way up to the top and eventually start my own label. After having bad work experiences and now have a family or economic support around me I decided I wanted to change my lifestyle. Working 12 hours a day for a low salary and getting treated poorly was not my ideal scenario. Since then I've quit my job and are slowly starting my own company. I fear that what I thought I always wanted to be or do is not what it seems and though I know my strengths I'm not sure how to put it all together and make it make sense for me as a profession. I don't know how to get where I think I want to be... Still the same. I think that upon leaving college, everyone wants to work for a big label, a huge designer name. Mine has shifted to find a balance between working, growing as a professional, but also learning more about the business. You realize there are so many options when it comes to careers in fashion. I'm more open to different companies After starting to work I had a much more realistic view on finding out how things would be made for the masses in production I was very interested in starting my own line, but realized that I wanted to learn more about parts of the industry that I didn't experience or study while in school first. My goals have switched to Getting paid while learning a thing or two and making lots of new friends! Yes immensely. I am currently applying for business school, to obtain an MBA, ideally focusing


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on small biz, entrepreneurship and sustainable business. No but getting there has. I still would love to have my own line, but after attempting to, I knew I needed more time and experience in the industry working at companies in order to better prepare myself. Well, I went to school for womenswear, which I do not regret, and ended up in footwear. My professional goals at Parsons were simply to get a job with health insurance (I was 28), preferably somewhere that I felt passionate about the aesthetic and respected my boss. I got lucky with Calvin but ended up doing accessories and shoes. When my position there became more narrowly focused on accessories I realized how passionate I was about shoes and how much I still needed to learn that is footwear specific. So my goal became to find a place where I could learn what I needed to learn while still being creative. I realized I didn't want to work for anyone and i started my own business. being creative and working under someone else's vision is difficult. Not much changed. But learned to add more years to reach my professional goals. I am not working in Fashion anymore, I have transitioned to Media. I have had a lot more experiences working in the fashion field after graduation, but I still have yet to land a design job. My professional goals have shifted into taking whatever title/job position the brand may have (even if it isn't design) and attempt to work my way into the department I truly want (design) after making connections on my own within the brand. I've decided the only way for me to feel creative enough with the lifestyle I want is to start my own company. Unless your aesthetics align with the company you work for I've found it is not as satisfying to design. I've also realized that the hours are insane and don't get any better. I worked at J.Crew. I was working 60-80 hour weeks as an assistant designer. The head designer of my department as well as the head women's designer were working just as long hours. I realized with my other life goals (having a family where I am around) does not work at all with a job like this. At least with my own company I would be more willing to put in the long hours. I would have the flexibility of being my own boss working from home or bringing in my kids to work or finding some better balance between work and family. They have not changed yet. I still plan to jump from company to company to climb the ladder (and pay off my student loans) and learn as much as I can about every aspect of active wear before starting my own company. I wish there was an active wear course at Parsons! I'm taking a break in fashion, I travelled a lot around the world etc but I feel like Im working too hard to be a part of an industry that is so vain and shallow. After receiving a BFA in design from Parsons I was unable to find a job for 6 months. After that


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I held jobs in design, production, sourcing and logistics- and am back to trying to find a job in design which is very challenging. When graduating you have this idea of your dream and how it will play out but as you get older your responsibilities and life choices start to change therefore your dream of designing changes and the reality of how much work is involved for one persons begins to not be as enjoyable as it was during college and the first year of starting your career. The idea that you CAN do it all IS possible but doing it all GREAT and to your fullest capability is impossible. Now I would love to work for myself, rather than a corporation. I became disenchanted with fashion design through school and also through internships. I am still in the fashion arena, but not in design. Nothing


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Appendix B: Focus Groups

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Focus Group Interview 1, California College of the Arts San Francisco, California Facilitated by Steven Faerm, October 28, 2011 A focus group comprised of four adjunct faculty who worked full-time in the fashion design industry and one full time faculty member was held to gather reflections on their teaching practice, students’ experience, and fashion design education. Participants also discussed their academic and professional experiences, and their transitional experience into the industry following undergraduate studies. All of the participants had engaged with formalized study in fashion design; some had undergraduate degrees in fashion design while one had a degree from a prestigious women’s college and pursued post-undergraduate studies at Fashion Institute of Technology. The participants’ professional experiences varied and included working for such large companies as Ralph Lauren in New York while others owned their own small fashion house in the San Francisco, California area.

Participating Faculty Participant 1

Completed the Fashion Design program at CCA. She currently owns her own clothing and jewelry business and performs all of the tasks such as sewing and patternmaking. This is her first semester teaching.

Participant 2

Graduated from Parsons in New York City. Following graduation, she worked for many companies in New York City, Los Angeles, and San Francisco as a fashion designer and design studio owner. She has entered fashion design education full time as a Program Director.

Participant 3

Studied at Iowa State University. Former Assistant Designer with Federated Department Stores before relocating to San Francisco to work in menswear and womenswear. She recently left her full-time job as a Senior Designer to have a child and teach.

Participant 4

Studied Philosophy at Barnard College and Textile Design at Fashion Institute of Technology. She is an accomplished weaver and worked in senior-level fashion design positions for Ralph Lauren. She returned to school to obtain a business degree and is currently a consultant in the fashion design and home furnishings industries. She has taught for approximately eleven years; nearly seven years at CCA and five years in New York City.

Participant 5

Graduated from Washington State University and began her own clothing line in San Francisco immediately following graduation. She has operated her own store and wholesale business while teaching at CCA for the past twelve years. 1. Are the students changing? How?


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They are coming in with less skill sets and being less able to craft work. This is a sign of the times and a sign of our culture that is addicted to technology. We don't "make" things anymore. Participants think students are more and more challenged by making things.

2. Are there changes in how they learn? 

 

The students are visual learners. For example, in studio classes, students must be shown every step along the way; they can only retain two steps at a time and need “hand holding” to do this or that. Students—even the top in the class—possess less analytical skills. Students today are trained to the test. Creativity is deemphasized and it is being taken away. Faculty members are questioning how much art training students are given in secondary education. Is it sufficient? The entering students are weak in drawing and/or lack basic skills. This includes such tasks as how to execute creative presentations, etc. Students possess low foundational skills. One instructor has “uber-talented” illustrators, and some of these students are at a competitive level. However, students are learning it on their own rather than in high school courses. Students in secondary schools must pursue it on their own (i.e. through external coursework and programs). They cannot rely on their school to teach everything needed for undergraduate art and design programs. Another faculty member stated CCA’s Foundation Year (first year) supposedly builds basic skills such as presentation, but it isn't doing enough.

3. At what age do most students make the decision to go into fashion? Are they preparing for fashion design and college prior to entering CCA? 

  

There is competition with athletic activities because athletic scholarships offer great financial resources for entry into “regular” universities. The conversations from the parents are "I’m not letting my kid take off 4 week of swim practice to 'dabble in art'.” Parents want more of a guarantee for their child. Older students raise the bar for the entire class. They are more focused, driven, and are very committed to their studies and professional choice(s). It is important for design education to offer a well-rounded education so that students learn how to contextualized design more broadly and acquire deep critical thinking skills. Students need to know that an undergraduate degree is just the beginning. Learning is ongoing and there is much more to learn once they enter the professional world.


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4. How does school communicate this, that there is more to learn? That it's not over?    

Primarily through informal critiques. It is an ongoing process throughout their four years of study. Faculty relate “real life” to the assigned projects so students have a sense of how they'll need to think and problem solve. Students are asked to relate their "imaginary world" to actual industry operations that are filled with restrictions. Students have field trips throughout their educational experience and it is invaluable for bridging theory and practice. Additionally, seniors study business alongside their design coursework in order to prepare for their future jobs. One member felt education needs more “real life” built into the design assignments. This will allow students to begin thinking about realistic problems and work them into their projects rather than just theoretical assignments. "[Educators] should bring these in to challenge them more" so by senior year the practical thinking is built into the students’ process and the transition into industry is seamless. Even in the students’ technical drawings (“flats”), educators can ask students to consider the pattern pieces and how they will be laid out on the a standard width of sixty-inch fabric, or consider the wastage of fabric due to the marker.

Additional methods:        

Field trips to cutting houses, contractors, production houses, and other industry related sites. Guest speakers Internships. Most have internships during the summer between their junior and senior years. Some internships have formal agreements with the school while others are generated by competitions, such as the Abercrombie and Fitch Competition. These often lead to fulltime jobs upon graduation. The heavy workload doesn't promote internships during school year; it is difficult for students to manage their assignments with external work. To receive academic credit for internships, students must work a minimum of fifteen hours per week as an elective course. Many students work twenty or more hours per week at a part-time job to contribute to their expenses. Due to California law, companies must pay the interns or the student must receive credit for the internship and work 15 hours per week. Companies cannot use free interns. There has been a big “crack-down” and companies—particularly emerging ones—cannot afford it.


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5. How many of your graduates from the Class of 2007 do you estimate are still working in the fashion industry? Approximately 80% are still in the fashion industry with the percentage rising in the following years.

6. What are the common reasons the graduates would leave the profession?  It is difficult to find employment in San Francisco. If the graduate is unmotivated, they don’t make phone calls, upgrade their portfolio, and they give up. They might begin something small (i.e. Etsy), but it is not something substantial.  Some students get disenfranchised from the very beginning. They might go back to school for another (different) degree and pursue another discipline or field altogether.  Some leave because they didn't know what the industry was like until they graduated and were highly surprised.

7. Why is Industry not for them? Why were they surprised?    

The high workload is the top reason. High competition in the job market. Lack of awareness of the fashion industry; students think it's glamorous and don't know the grittiness of it, the hard work required, and the entire process a designer is engaged with. Overwhelming amount of information that a designer must always keep on top of.

8. What was your own transition like? How was it moving from academia into the industry as a designer?    

One faculty member said it was "brutally painful" during first year. It was like coming out of a fantasy world and then “real life” hit her. One must pay bills, be self-sufficient, and understand how the industry really works. Real-world experience would have helped. It was a big learning curve from school to practice. Another faculty member said it was a very nurturing transition. Her boss became a mentor, taught her everything she needed to know in knitwear, and was understanding during her learning process. The economy is making it a more difficult transition and this is part of what made the transition “brutal” for one faculty member.


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9. What makes the transition easier? How can it be more fluid for the graduate?   

   

“Real world experience” Team projects are very beneficial. The Placement Office is essential for a well-supported transition. The Office makes a concerted effort to stay in touch with graduates of CCA. There is lots of contact with alumni when jobs surface and the Office lets alumni feel like they are still attached to the college. Other faculty said their college did not do this; they were expected to “sink or swim, door closed, while the school focused on the next batch.” A school must allow students to feel like they can come back to talk to them, at all stages, for any question or issue. Career Day is held every spring semester. Students to meet with fashion companies, show their portfolios, interview, etc. CCA teaches seniors how to interview. "Placement is part of the educational story here at CCA"

10. How has industry changed? Where is it headed?  

In the past, corporations were rare and mass market was only just starting. Now, all that is established. It's set in stone and they dominate the industry. Fashion doesn't know what it's doing anymore. It was formerly four seasons, and now there are possibly 18 seasons. The industry doesn’t have time to acknowledge what is being consumed! Designers, due to speed and quantity produced, don't even know the history of the styles and what sold. This is preventing the industry from reflecting and making better, more innovative design. The industry is going as fast as “the train is built to go.” However, for some companies, they are looking at slowing down and being more mindful what they are building at every level. Building at a higher quality/lesser volume way and back to what it was like. “But, at same time, it's a business. Can it? Will it?”

11. What are the key attributes from a graduate today, as needed by industry?     

Flexibility The ability to wear many hats and multi-task Advanced critical thinking skills, not just fashion-thinking skills. The ability to collaborate, to work in a team environment Relate fashion to other systems, i.e. the world, the whole cycle (i.e. sustainability)


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Focus Group Interview 2, Professional Fashion Designers New York, New York Facilitated by Steven Faerm, December 2011 A focus group comprised of professional New York fashion designers was held to gather reflections on their transition experiences. The group consisted of three females from the Class of 2006, one male from the Class of 2006, and two females from the Class of 2007. All participants were highly successful during their undergraduate education and obtained job offers during their final semesters or immediately following graduation. The participants’ professional experiences varied. Some had worked for established companies such as Donna Karan, Ralph Lauren, Theory, and J. Mendel. Others had acquired experience at smaller brands such as Alice & Olivia or entered specialty markets such as the swimwear industry and accessories design. Some of the participants worked for three or more companies since graduating college, while another has stayed with her first employer. 1. How did you get your first professional job following graduation? All participants got their first jobs through professional connections (e.g. most had internships that led to freelance, and then full time employment).

2. Looking back on the 3 years, what prepared you most for the transition? o School just taught you tools, and social skills...all others came from internships (e.g. people dynamics). o School gave you fundamentals, such as tailoring a jacket.... but when faculty talked about their own professional experience‌that was helpful. o School gave us a great work ethic that prepared us for this rigorous industry. o I did tons of sketching on the job; it was good that school made us do lots of work. o In school you're a "one man show" but it's totally different when you get thrown into a company culture where you must fit in. You must get along with different cultures, personalities.....

3. What weren't you prepared for sufficiently? o Being prepared to design for another brand/aesthetic. It took me a long time to learn what my boss wanted, how he wanted me to work, how to understand the brand, get into the "groove" understanding a brand from their perspective, and then to contribute some of your taste/aesthetic. o In school you're so consumed with your aesthetic, and that's important in sophomore year, and maybe junior year. But also how can you contribute your ideas? Our "opposite designer" assignment was really hard, challenging, but was excellent for getting you out of your box....your own self-identity.....and you must think how to contribute your ideas


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into another (brand) identity. My opposite was Chanel and I learned much from it.......and I learned how to compromise. o We like having more parameters in assignments o My friend's university in Texas makes them record the day-to-day during their internship. They must interview the CEO, the Director, et cetera, research the brand, et cetera.....it's great for the student to learn how to immerse themselves in a brand.

4. Describe your personal relationships with your faculty. o I'm still very close with almost all my previous faculty. I like a challenging, yet supportive environment. (Did this prepare you better?) Yes. My teacher Ms. Smith, for example, taught us how to work in a sample room, Mr. Jones taught how to build and edit a collection, Ms. Wright was the 'guidance counselor', Mr. Delaren taught us how to look at a collection and how to build it, Ms. Bollen taught us the most important thing which is "Who is going to wear that, can they get into a cab in it?� Those basic questions you must always ask yourself when designing. Those things stuck to me and have stayed with me years later.

5. Describe your internship experiences. What were some good things and some challenging things about them? o First internship was at a marketing firm, I was there 2 weeks, very challenging. She wanted me to do all of her work: research other brands, then steal their ideas. I've had four or five internships total, all very different, and I'm happy I did. They allowed me to experience different types of companies, work environments, big/small companies, highend/low-end.....they helped me figure out where I wanted to be after school....and I now know more of what to expect o (Company) left a big impression. The company is the last house that works in that particular way.....sample room, fittings in house, etc....she has people from (Company) there. I learned so much.....especially fabric knowledge. Another was (Company) and (Company) in terms of people...I finally understood how important it is to mesh well with the people you are working with. You must be part of a team. Amy at (Company) really nurtured me, took me in...her openness was helpful and I learned from that (how to treat others). o My internships left either the "I never want to do this again" impression or the "this is so amazing, I want to keep doing more" impression. First was private label.....worst thing ever. I then went to (Company), and I learned so much about pattern making. Then at (Company) all I did was organize fabrics and that was horrible since I'm the most unorganized person. Finally I went to (Company)....which was an all-encompassing company and amazing.


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o I had three distinct internship experiences:  Company X taught me how to anticipate what your boss or job expects of you....and that it's not creative all the time. Also, it was a tiny company so the two designers held onto all of the creative control...and I realized there would be no room for me to be creative.  Company Y takes all the credit from the interns who design the entire collection.....I learned that about the industry, it made me question the role of the Design Director.....the skills of being able to "rally up the troops" is a big part of the job.....the supervisory skills are so important on the job....not just the creative.  Company Z was all about corporate design environment...an exercise in organization, plugging in design schedule, etc.  I realized it's not just about how talented you are...how creative you are......you need tremendous people skills, management skills, etc.

6. How did you learn these other skills? o You learn them outside of school. I interned very early and that helped me adjust earlyon. Be open and learn to listen. o After interning, you become more humble and open to bending what your core is. o Students should start interning early. The earlier the better. o Companies like (Company) have formalized internship programs and I wish other companies would, too. o Schools and companies should partner more in internship programs, rather than students fending for themselves. They (students) need the support since they don't think that way yet. You get these other skills (e.g. how to network, make connections) through experience o Internships build confidence, and students need this support o Internships can take advantage of you, and school partnerships can prevent this

7. Did you experience any surprises about the industry when you interned? o No. You just kind of accept it as "oh, that's how the industry must work" o I think some students have a hard time accepting the industry when they intern though.....like if the company gives you a project to do, they own the work. It's not your collection, it's not your name,....it's not always your say. In school it is all your say, what you want, no one to answer to/compromise. When you work, this can be hard to accept, even after 20 years of experience....you must learn to swallow it. Group projects in school were great for learning this. Also, licensees and private label shocked me. That line of business is just to make money. No creativity, just to be a slave and to answer to certain stores. o I was surprised how many companies work from other company's work and from Style.com to copy. It made me question why I even bothered to go to school. The majority of companies steal from Paris, Milan, et cetera, but it's good to learn about


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merchandising....schools should have more classes on this. At my present company, it's so merchandised and students need awareness and a base for this. o Merchandisers can ruin your collection. They dictate to designers what they want. Their power made me wonder "why didn't I just go into merchandising if they decide what goes into the collection?" o Store buyers can dictate an inspiration and you must do what they want. If it fails, it's the designers' fault.....

8. In the past 3 years, what was the transition like for you going from school to industry? And, what could have made it smoother for you? o I won Designer of the Year, and expected to be a super-star after graduation. This ego stayed with me for years and humility took a long time to get back, and I see this with many recent graduates. They have tremendous ego, they come in and expect to be sketching, designing, et cetera without advancing in a company from the bottom up. The school builds the students up to be stars, when in reality they won't be when they graduate.

9. What would have made the transition from academia to practice smoother? o Character building o ....but in school you need to flourish in your creativity, you shouldn't be too realistic. o I liked the freedom of coming up with my own ideas in school, but you really need to home into who you want to be. I never would have traded the freedom to be creative, despite the rough entry into the field it created. o Students need humility but also to know who they really are, and what they want to be. o Understand you might not design on your first job(s). Lots of my colleagues are shocked by how many graduates expect to design right away without even fully understanding how to finish the inside of a garment or how to keep a complicated production schedule. They must understand and master this. Even if you're filing, you're learning. o They really need to understand the technical aspects of design such as how does this hood connect to the top in order to design. o Students/Assistants must understand how to pay attention and not to simply be “photocopiers.� I give my interns a test by having them trace a pattern. If they trace the punch-hole for hanging the pattern, they're not paying attention because that's not part of the pattern. Or when they don't copy all of the comments/notes on the pattern to the copied version..... o If you're slow, this is not the field for you. o You need to be very pro-active, very serious. This is a business. It's serious work.

10. Did it surprise you, having to know how much technical knowledge you needed to know, or didn't need to know?


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o At one company, you could have the technical team do it for you. But at my current company, it's very small so we have to do it all. The pattern makers do much of it, but you really need to know what you're designing and have very clear communication with them so they execute what you want. You must know the techniques and the procedures so they can assist you. You might begin a muslin by doing half, and they finish it for you. o I remember designing at work and my boss said (looking at a sketch) "Ok, so how are we going to make it?" and I was expected to solve it, discuss and verbalize it, to fully know the "how to.�

11. What prepared you least for the transition? o Tech-packs and learning how to work with a factory. It can be challenging, to learn how to communicate this information. o I think this information can be learned over time, but you must learn it quickly. If you're in higher positions, you will need to explain why something will or won't work, and to have solutions to a (technical) problem. o There are very few companies in New York that make garments in-house. Learning how to communicate the elements of making a garment are very important and not stressed enough in school. o The New York industry is basically the contemporary market, and all of them are based on the tech-pack. o I don't think students should learn so much technical. They need to be creative, otherwise they could go to (college) for a more technically-based education. Maybe more intensives could be offered, such as 2 day or one week sessions where you learn about tech-packs. o We should have learned more about construction. o In school, we got away with "wonky designs" and we should have been challenged more about specifics, pushed more. "What kind of stitching is that, what lining are you using?" Not just the ideas, but more of how will it be fully made, resolved.

12. How involved are your interns in the technical processes? o I try to help them. I think getting them to trace patterns gets them to really understand how to look, etc. Even just teaching them how to cut bias strips, how to hold the scissors, how to cut a lining, etc....it's all beneficial for them. o I ask them to do something and figure they will ask if they don't already know how. But I teach students more about design such as how to put a collection together. Many students have a technical proficiency already, but they don't understand the bigger picture of how a company works. For example, the idea that you can't just design whatever you want. It has to be merchandised, cohesive, all those big picture issues. You even need to design things that your sales team requests, even if you don't believe in it.


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Appendix C: Conferences

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The Council of Fashion Designers of America Fashion Education Summit, January 20, 2011 Transcribed Minutes by Steven Faerm On January 20th, 2012, The Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) hosted the first annual Fashion Education Summit. The event was attended by 14 fashion industry leaders and approximately 80 fashion educators from 12 American fashion design programs. The purpose of the event was to discuss the future of fashion design education. Key topics included: What is the industry seeking in recent graduates? How is the professional landscape evolving? What new initiatives are academic programs considering for future implementation? Is our design pedagogy successfully preparing graduates? The event held morning and afternoon sessions. During the morning session, examples of schools’ successful student portfolios were shown. A moderated discussion with industry leaders followed to discuss what attributes the industry is seeking from recent graduates. Suggestions for how design education may evolve were also proposed by the professionals. The afternoon session began with my lecture about the future of design education. Following the lecture, groups were formed, with 5-7 attendees in each. A questionnaire about the industry, pedagogy, design education, and the student generation was provided to each group. Groups discussed the questions, recorded their thoughts, and presented their finding to all participants for an open discussion.

Minutes (Good) design is about communication and authenticity, regardless of creativity Industry panelists articulated the need for practical/easy presentations (both scholarship entries and graduate portfolios). Simple, straight-forward portfolios are most effective and preferred. The Geoffrey Beene Scholarship Competition: It's about geometric shapes, and not just cut-outs. Students must view the books that display his work; "simplicity" is not a requirement in design. The Liz Claiborne Scholarship Competition: Don't just dress (the customer) down; the students still need the "wow" fashion factor in their presentations. Packaging is almost as important as design. One must understand the total vision (for competitions, interviewing for jobs, etc.). Consider such details as paper quality, book's scale, styles of communication, even how fabric is laid out. The full understanding for the brand is key. Flaunt your strengths in a portfolio, whatever they may be. For example, if it's not drawing, focus on research and presentation, and/or other methods for getting you and your vision across.


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One designer stated: "If you are weak in it, make it strong." We (educators and professionals) must stop making people be something they are not (i.e. fashion designers). Help students discover what they could be, and allow design to take them there (lead them to another profession through the study of fashion design). Today, people define themselves too early in life. We (educators and professionals) must be honest with our feedback to students. We can't walk on eggshells around the students. A collection’s concept and ideas must be important. The portfolio must service this idea/concept. Europe pushes students to be creative whereas America is driven by a business sense. "Vision" is the most important thing that students must start from and curriculum must instill this early on, the building of a personal voice. Virginia Commonwealth University rewrote their junior fall curricula to focus more on research development. Secondary schools are losing the push on creativity due to the increasing emphasis on academics. Creativity, research, and the library must connect in a journal format for the undergraduate. "Students don't know themselves as well as we did years ago." Some industry panelists stressed design IS communication. Design IS commercial art. A designer must inspire people to buy a product. Education must get students involved in all aspects of the process from the start (creativity, commercial understanding, the making, researching, etc.) There must be courses about internships to teach the importance of them, how to be professional, how the industry functions, etc. Internships function as an "external classroom." One designer had a teacher intern with her over the summer. The teacher now understands what the students need to know when they intern. "(The teacher) is my best ally." Cincinnati University: Fashion is modeled after the engineering program; a cooperative education program that serves as a work-study program, and instills maturity in the students. Columbia College in Chicago offers a 5 week, 1 credit course to teach students how to behave in a professional environment. Fashion is communication and we must open the ways in which students choose tools such as drawing, video, photography, etc. The question is not about "what parameters do we instill" but "how can we open them up." There is a need for students to understand what the industry needs and this will change (evolve) from year to year.


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“Schools are very good at teaching the history (of business) but students must acquire contemporary business knowledge as coursework. We can't lose sight of what is happening now.” Portfolios must have a balance of what one shows (i.e. commercial and creative design). It should give a taste of the student. Graduates must acquire better communication skills, particularly written communication. Also key are:  The graduates’ ability to collaborate in a design team (e.g. create team projects during school);  Becoming (possibly) a specialist within fashion design (e.g. bra designer); Knowledge of other careers in fashion (this underscores need for transferable skills);  The ability for a designer/graduate to become an “agent of change” and someone who can rethink existing practices;  Increased abstract thinking that is less literal (e.g. when designing from specific research);  The ability to develop a less generic portfolio;  An authentic vision is needed.

Education must raise the students’ "critical thinking skills." "Learning how to learn" must be emphasized by educators. Consider other means for showing fashion design work. How can we engage the public in new ways? The "nuanced needs of students" in today's classroom is increasing greatly due to the increasing diversity of student body. There is a desire to move away from "siloed" classes with greater integration of skill building (i.e. 2D with 3D projects in one class). Projects are increasingly moving across courses to connect themes and ideas. The concept of modular classes needs to be explored. One educator cited the concerns raised by the industry professionals during the morning session. The panelists felt graduates appear weak in communication skills, confidence, creativity/vision, professionalism, and the passion for the career. However, general skills were not mentioned by the industry, and thus appears to be adequate. Abnormal parental involvement (Helicopter Parents) is highly challenging and increasing. Some student traits that are growing are:


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   

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Instant gratification is required; The lack of work ethic; Lack of ownership in one’s work; Lack of the human experience (sensory deprivation and non-experiential) largely due to internet, etc.

Increasing needs in a graduate today:  Greater Flexibility  Adaptability  Having Initiative  Critical Thinking Skills Teaching today needs multiple ways of delivery to accommodate many diverse learning styles. Education is evolving into a service climate in which the student is the consumer. Virginia Commonwealth University has taken on the responsibility of exposing students to other communities (e.g. the Guatemalan Mayan community for design projects). The school is building more simulations into classroom experiences. There is tremendous value of a clothing archive for providing context to students' design work. Students want to be everything today (e.g. the designer, architect, and disc jockey on the weekends). The idea of a “super professional” who wants to do it all is increasing amongst the students. Students are more entrepreneurially focused and less "big business" focused. Many are considering small projects (e.g. Etsy) and getting bank loans to build a start-up business. Graduates are considering other roads, not just the 7th Avenue companies. There is increasing interest in both dual-majors/degrees and 5 year degree programs from both schools and students alike. Educators feel they need to be mentors to their students due to more individual goals students are exhibiting. There is more one-on-one guidance, discussion, teaching, etc. There must be a balance of reality and theoretical work.

The Arts of Fashion Symposium, October 2011 Lecture "Transition from Academia into Professional Practice" by Christine Mayes Transcribed Minutes by Steven Faerm


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Christine’s Mantra:  “Rework, Revisit, Reinvent” is her mantra that she feels all students should follow  Mistake is the catalyst for change, innovation;  Style is the principle of decision;  Style is never an accessory to the content of design;  Be adaptable, resourceful, and flexible. Reflections on Education  Her interdisciplinary education allowed her to have positive transition and allowed her to bring much to the table.  "Opposite Designer" assignment (students are assigned a design aesthetic that is different from their own) allowed her to learn how to design for another designer’s vision and thus understand how challenging design can be. It was also highly beneficial in her creative development because it clarified and solidified her own design process.  Designer Thom Browne is a very focused and he transformed menswear. By working with him, Christine had to adapt to his style. The "opposite designer project" she completed during her junior year gave her the tools to do this.  One must be a highly resourceful student to be professionally successful and overcome hurdles (i.e. the economy).  Students (and designers) must take design risks (e.g. in materials used).  Explore the unconventional to innovate.  Students must be intuitive, as the fashion industry is not a “hand holder.”  Faculty might direct, but students must be highly observant.  Tough, honest critiques over a 4 year span in undergraduate studies gave her confidence.  School sets the work ethic, demands, expectations, commitment that the industry expects.  Student must build a vocabulary and an ability to verbalize their work rather than relying on "safe words" to articulate their work and process.  Conceptual development at Parsons is heavily stressed, yet industry is void of this; it was a jolting transition moving into the industry where copying and reproducing is the norm. It was “mind blowing" to learn how the industry really operates.  Stress and pressure to build a commercial collection is stifling designers' creativity.  Industry has brutal turnaround dates and school did not prepare her for this (2 week turn around dates in industry is norm).  Consumers’ heightened aesthetic awareness today has increased the industry’s rapid turnaround; consumers are demanding new product faster and faster.  The current industry is focusing on quantity over quality.  Diverse experience through internships gives students an upper hand; there is much to be learned no matter where one is working or interning.


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Appendix D: Five Year Program Models

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Five Year Program Models A

B

C

FOUNDATION YEAR

Year 1

Year 1

Year 1

Year 2

Year 2

Year 2

PROFESSIONAL YEAR

Year 3

Year 3

Year3

Year 4

Year 4

Year 4

½ Study & ½ Practice

Date_________________


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Dear Participant: Thank you for your interest in participating in this research study. The purpose of this study is to examine the challenges experienced by recent fashion design graduates during their transition from academia into the professional practice. This research will give fashion design program directors an awareness for how they can improve their graduates' preparation into a rapidly evolving professional practice. To participate in this study, you will respond to questions pertaining to the study's purpose that will take approximately one hour of your time. Additional questions may be asked via phone, email, or in person should additional information be requested. You will be asked questions related to your thoughts and feelings about the fashion industry, design education, recent graduates, and your own personal and professional experiences. You may skip any question that makes you uncomfortable and are free to withdraw from the experience at any time. The risks involved with participating in this study are no more than one would experience in regular daily activities. Potential benefits you may receive from participation are the satisfaction in knowing that you have contributed to improving design education and the graduates' experiences, and informing the academic and professional practices. The study will also provide you with an opportunity to reflect upon your career. In order to maintain anonymity, your name is not required. When completed, the Master's thesis will exist as a PDF file in the Bank Street College Library's free online catalog where it will be available to all students and faculty as well as the general public to be downloaded and read. Thank you in advance for your participation and for supporting the future of fashion design education. Sincerely, Steven Faerm Assistant Professor, BFA Fashion Design Parsons The New School for Design Degree Candidate, M.S.Ed. Bank Street College of Education I agree to participate in this research study. Print________________________________Signed_________________________ Email___________________________________________________

I authorize my name being referenced in the study:

Yes

No


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7/29/12

TO: MR. STEVEN FAERM: FROM: CHRISTINE MAYES

THIS LETTER STATES THAT I APPROVE ALL CITED QUOTES AS WELL AS THE TRANSCRIBED MINUTES IN APPENDIX B TITLED THE ARTS OF FASHION SYMPOSIUM IN STEVEN FAERM’S COMPLETED WORK TITLED FROM CLASSROOM TO DESIGN ROOM: THE TRANSITIONAL EXPERIENCE OF THE FASHION DESIGN GRADUATE.

SIGNED: CHRISTINE MAYES 7/29/12


From Classroom to Design Room: The Transitional Experience of the Fashion Design Graduate