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6 Reasons Why I Quit My Retail Job and Studied Fashion Merchandising Instead

MU students participate in a panel discussion with prospective students and their families.
MU students participate in a panel discussion with prospective students and their families.

Oh, it truly is a Millennial tale. I was educated, working three jobs, and living with my parents.

Life was tough.

Even with an Associate’s degree and cosmetology license under my belt I couldn’t find a job I liked or environment I wanted to work in. Trying to imagine myself at my current retail job in five years made my whole body cringe. I need to change the direction my life was going.

I decided to finish my degree, but this time it would be different. No longer would I be an undeclared undergrad. Instead, I chose to major in fashion merchandising, and you should too. Here’s a few reasons why:

Fashion merchandising majors always know the trends before everyone else.

It feels good to be the person that your friends ask, “so what’s trending?” You can tell them, because unlike the masses, you have access to trend forecasting sites like Worth Global Style Network. Websites like WGSN give fashion industry professionals access to fashion, beauty, and accessory trends months before they hit stores. You’ll be racking your brain trying to remember what was trending for this season, because you are already months ahead of everyone else. Naturally.

Senior Rachel Baumeister presented her capstone product development project this past spring.
Senior Rachel Baumeister presented her capstone product development project this past spring.

Your career will revolve around clothes.

Need I say more? How is this even possible? Thank you Eve for eating that apple. In hindsight we’re really creating jobs for women everywhere. If loving clothes is a sin, then count me in.

The job options are endless.

Before I entered this major I had no idea how many different career options were available to me. Fashion merchandising students can choose creative or analytical paths after graduation. The creative types may opt for careers in styling, product development, or visual merchandising. Those who are strong analytical thinkers may find jobs in the areas of sourcing, merchandising, or management fulfilling. Or maybe you are talented at communicating and negotiating with others? Then you may want to become buyer, an account executive, or public relations specialist.

You can actually pass your math class. 

This isn’t regular math, and unlike algebra you’ll use it after your graduate. Merchandising math has real-world applications. As a fashion merchandising student you solve industry specific math problems: finding the markup percent, formulating shipping charges, and calculating the sell through percentage. It’s not difficult to learn and it’s actually fun! There’s no complex formulas or scientific calculators needed, just a little bit of Excel knowledge, which you’ll learn in class. Also, it is helpful when shopping because you understand when you should splurge or save. You will be able to estimate the true cost of that new bag and decide if it’s really worth the big price tag. Knowledge is power!

Travel.

Are you itching to fill up that passport with stamps?! Because of the immense size and international nature of the fashion industry, it’s likely that you will travel at some point in your career. Maybe that means staying stateside. Hello New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Dallas! Or get your beauty sleep because you are going to London and Paris for Fashion Week. Cherrio, Bonjour! If you work in product development or sourcing you may travel to the Middle East or India to visit the garment factories, see the new merchandise first hand, and ensure quality standards. It all depends on the path you choose. Who would of thought jet lag could look this good?

MU students have visited many fashion capitals around the world.
MU students have visited many fashion capitals around the world.

Increased likelihood that you’ll attend a fashion show.

I’m not guaranteeing front row seats but it’s a step up from watching Project Runway in your living room. Maybe your future employer is expected to attend these glamorous runway shows twice a year, every year, for “work”? Or your future self will work for a styling agency or magazine? Someone has to dress Gigi Hadid for the cover of Elle! Either scenario, (plus a million more) gets you behind those elusive velvet ropes. I really can’t think of anything cooler.

Many of our students who study at FIT get to volunteer for Fashion Week....and celeb sightings are common!
Many of our students who study at FIT get to volunteer for Fashion Week….and celeb sightings are common!

If I haven’t convinced you by now, then I’m at a loss for words. A fashion merchandising degree gives you access to a creative, diverse, and global industry with endless opportunities. Won’t you join me by enrolling in Mercyhurst University’s Fashion Merchandising Program today? It could change your life.

Sarah Johnson, '16

Good things come in small packages, like me, or jewelry from Tiffany's.