Interview with Joyce F Brown

Joyce F Brown
Joyce F Brown
Fashion Institute of Technology
Fashion Institute of Technology

What are the current job placement trends for recent graduates? Where are they working?

FIT has maintained outstanding job placement statistics, even during the difficult times we have been experiencing. As I reported earlier, a 2012 survey of FIT graduates found that nearly 80 percent of students who graduate with an associates degree find jobs in their areas, and a full 90 percent of students who graduate with a bachelor’s degree find employment. Our graduates work in many areas of fashion and its related industries. That same survey found that many graduates, especially those with bachelor’s degrees, were employed as assistant designers. Entry level jobs as assistant buyers remain in demand as are positions as stylists, merchandise assistants, product development assistants and sales associates. One trend we have noticed in recent years is a growing demand on the part of industry for professionals in compliance and sustainability issues. We have also seen the emergence of some new positions in the industry, such as in social media and multi-channel marketing. Internships are an integral component of an FIT education. We have 2,000 internships. Many of these lead to job offers for our students.

Students need the best skills in order to find jobs. In what ways can current students make sure that they are getting the best education possible? How can they best ensure that they will get jobs and have a career in the fashion industry?

Even the most talented and highly motivated students have to remain current if they are going to be marketable. They have to be passionate and dedicated to their craft and willing to devote the time and effort required to complete the full academic curriculum which is offered in order to have the best preparation for the markets in which they hope to distinguish themselves. At FIT we pride ourselves on our curriculum which provides students opportunities to study with industry experts as well as academicians distinguished in their fields by both research and teaching. Our curriculum is infused with liberal arts courses which round out the students’ experience and preparation for the global markets. We stress the importance of critical thinking skills and how to analyze facts and conceptualize projects and problem solve creatively. We stress writing ability and presentation and communication skills. We want students to read the work of diverse writers and thought leaders. Industries require students/employees to be adaptable, flexible and able to apply what they know to new and different situations. Talent, academic preparation and diligent pursuit of opportunities to remain current are essential for the innovation and creative solutions being sought today.

Are global competition and a poor economy affecting job placement at FIT?

Global competition has shaped and continues to reshape the types of positions that may be available, but it has not hurt hiring of our graduates. FIT’s job placement statistics remain outstanding. As referenced earlier, data show that of the students responding to our surveys, nearly 80 percent of our associates degree graduates find jobs in their areas and 90 percent of those with bachelor’s degrees find employment upon graduation. Our graduates can be found in many areas of fashion and related industries as well as some of the newer positions that have emerged as a result of the profusion of social media outlets and multi-channel marketing.

What kind of events do you organize for FIT students?

Multiple events take place every day and evening at the college. These include but are not limited to symposia, moderated panel discussions with industry experts, Deans Dialogues with invited industry experts with whom students can interact, student mentoring by industry executives and designers, contests and competitions sponsored by major companies, and the activities of the major-related student clubs. Recent guests have included Calvin Klein; Tommy Hilfiger; Martha Stewart; Kenneth Cole; Mickey Drexler, chairman and CEO of J. Crew; and Terry Lundgren, president and CEO of Macy’s, Inc. Major brands and corporations routinely sponsor competitions solely for FIT students in which industry designers and executives mentor the students, giving them invaluable feedback about their work. Prizes are awarded, and often the winning product is produced and sold by the sponsoring company. Recent contests have been sponsored by Stark Carpets, Cotton, Inc., DSW shoes, LVHM, Macy’s, Loehmann’s, Harris Tweed and Lululemon Athletica. During their final year, students prepare a graduation (capstone) project. For instance, at the college’s annual runway show (supported by Calvin Klein, Calvin Klein, Inc and Cotton, Inc), graduating fashion design students present their collections to sold out audiences made up of industry professionals, designers and fashion journalists. Designers such as Carolina Herrera, Dennis Basso and Narcisco Rodriguez mentor the students as they create their collections. Judges also are industry professionals. Students must also develop social media strategies and concepts for branding, marketing and selling.

Do you organize any trade fairs and international/global events? Please explain.

Several times a year, the college organizes a trade event called City Source EXPO, at which New York-based garment industry manufacturing companies are available to meet and take orders from designers and brands. This is a free event that is open to students and the public. Students attend the Magic Show in Las Vegas, which is the largest apparel sourcing exhibition in the Americas. They also take FIT-sponsored trips both in the U.S. and abroad---to such locations as Paris, London and Florence--- where they visit trade shows, designer studios, factories and corporate offices. Our Fashion Merchandising Management students participate in a competition sponsored by World Retail Congress in locations such as Barcelona and Berlin. Students can – and do – study abroad at locations all over the world. FIT’s own program in Italy allows students to immerse themselves in the culture while studying at Polimodo in Florence the Politecnico di Milano in Milan. The Textile Development and Marketing program and the Fashion Design program have dual-degree programs with Istanbul Technical University (ITU).
Published on: 25/06/2013

DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of

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