Written by kdanceydowns
I didn’t know my Miu Miu from my Margiela, so to say that I left Bournemouth University with the goal to strut straight into the fashion world would be a lie… I’d always had a loose interest in fashion but never considered it a real career option. I was President of the BU Snowriders in my final year and I had designed all the clothing and it was great to see so many people wearing my designs around Bournemouth so maybe this was the spark.
I spent three great years on the Product Design course at BU with a 10 month work placement in Barcelona. Most Design & Engineering courses are the last to finish due to the Festival of Design & Technology, so while I was doing this most of my friends had already left BU and were already forging their graduate careers. I was itching to join them.
My placement year in Barcelona really prepared me for life after university. I’d already had the experience of applying for jobs and was used to receiving rejections… lots of rejections.
DISCLAIMER: This is NOT how you should get a job.
So I don’t actually remember applying for a job at Burberry… and to receive a phone call asking for an interview really caught me off guard. I had arranged the interview for the following day and as soon as I put the phone down I realised two things:
- I had tickets to an Arctic Monkeys gig that evening that I’d been waiting six months for.
- I didn’t have a portfolio to show them.
So I made the decision to go to the gig and shoot straight to London afterwards and crash on a friend’s sofa. I arrived on their door at 12am and worked frantically on a portfolio until 4am. Usually when interviewing for a creative role a printed portfolio of your work is presented, but as I didn’t have a printed version I had no choice but to present on my iPad.
I managed to land a one-month internship as an Assistant in the accessories department. I later found out it was the iPad portfolio that had really impressed them as they’d “never seen anyone use it that way before” (remember this was five years ago…). As this was a one month internship my friends had been kind enough to allow me to stay on their sofa. Burberry then kept extending my internship month by month and I continued living on the sofa!
After 10 months as an intern and Couch Surfer, I wasn’t offered a permanent position and I was back out looking for work. Now I’d had a peek into the fashion world, I was intrigued. My old manager recommended me for a position in the Burberry photography studio. I’m very passionate about photography and have freelanced so I thought, why not? (www.junchanphotography.com)
They took me on and I learnt an incredible amount about how a photography studio works, the complexity of shoots, campaigns and runway shows. I feel very lucky to be have been a part of some memorable campaigns and had my work featured in publications such as GQ magazine and Vogue.
But I felt my heart was still in design. It’s what I went to BU for and it was still my main passion. So after two years in the photography studio, out of the blue, I received a phone call from the SVP of Accessories Design at Burberry asking me if I would still be interested in designing accessories. I was humbled to know that even after two years I was still being offered a design job!
I think what allowed me to stand out was my product design background. I knew about materials and manufacturing processes, while still being able to be highly creative. I developed that skillset at BU and on my placement year.
So that’s where I am today. I work in a team designing accessories and shoes for both men and women. What I find the most satisfying about my job is seeing how products go from ideas to runway. The build up to a show is incredible. We work so hard for months in advance for a show that lasts 20 minutes and before we can take a bow and soak in the praise, we’re already working on the next one.
I really cherished my time at BU and I made some incredible friends – many of whom I see every week. Remember it’s common not to know what you want to do after you graduate, but try as many new things as you can, this way you’ll better understand the things you like and don’t like, which can help point you in a direction. It’s really important to keep an open mind, as you really don’t know where you’ll end up…
P.S. I now sleep in a bed.
By Jun Chan