As a college student, especially within a business school, it seems everyone is constantly reiterating the importance of networking. Connections are everything, especially when trying to break into the highly competitive fashion industry. However, all this is easier said than done. As a 19 year old undergrad, where am I to find these people?
Interning at Pattern this summer has transformed my perception of networking. What I used to see as a vague, unreachable concept I now realize is a synonym for building a community. Connections naturally arise when you bring together a group of people united by a similar passion, as Pattern does with their numerous events.
The July Meetup with fashion journalist Abby Gardner was an especially eye-opening evening for me. I was able to hear from someone who has my dream job in a setting that was non-intimidating and welcoming towards questions and inquires. As a student in the Midwest I never thought I would have the opportunity to speak with the VP of an influential marketing firm in New York City, who I learned happens to be from Indianapolis herself!
Not only did I learn a lot from Abby’s talk, but also from observing the people who had gathered to listen. Before this summer, I had no idea that Indy had such a pronounced fashion scene. In a state associated with corn and car racing I was thrilled to find myself in a room filled with aspiring fashion designers, photographers, bloggers, and journalists. As I watched everyone mingle I came to realize that networking isn’t simply a means of getting yourself ahead, but building up the people around you in the process. Designers handed out cards to photographers, a writer with a degree in engineering talked with other writers about fashion journalism. When Abby gave me her email inviting me to reach out to her I didn’t feel like I was being looked down on, rather that she was using her position to help others get the experiences others had helped her get earlier in her career.
Being around the Indy fashion community this summer has shown me that being brought up here is not the hinderance I once believed it to be, rather an advantage. The network of people I have been introduced to are incredibly driven and passionate about their work, and have inspired me to continue developing my own creativity and pursuing my goals long after my internship ends.