9 top tips for breaking into the fashion industry

Fashion Assistant at You Magazine and Fashion Journalism graduate, Joanne Toolan, returned to the University of Sunderland today to visit our students and share with us her tips for breaking into fashion journalism post-graduation. As aspiring editorial assistants, fashion interns and stylists we were all ears!

With experience at Marie Claire, Stylist, You, Grazia AND Red, Joanne is THE gal to give advice from first hand experiences.



  1. Get as much experience as you can. It will beef up your CV and you’ll look more attractive to potential employers.
  2. Contacts. Contacts. Contacts. They are everything. It’s how the industry works and they are the key to getting the job you want. Keep in touch with everyone you meet as you never know when they could come in handy.
  3. Be positive on placement and smile. You don’t want to be “Black Booked”…. yes… it’s real!
  4. Say yes to everything whilst on placement. Even if you’ve just trekked back up to the tenth floor and you’re asked to go back down and get a parcel that’s just arrived. It’s a pain, but just do it. You’ll be recognised for your can-do attitude and they’ll appreciate how helpful you are.
  5. When applying for work experience/jobs keep your emails brief. Don’t babble and say only what you need to. Show your dedication to the brand and why you’d be good for them rather than vice versa.
  6. Address your emails! As Joanne said, no one is going to open an email addressed to “Mail on Sunday”, are they? It shouldn’t take too long, have a look online, on social media, or even in the magazines and get a name. Even if you get the wrong person, they will be able to forward it on.
  7. Don’t expect too much from your first placement. More often than not, it won’t be what you think it will be. You aren’t Andy from The Devil Wears Prada and although your boss may be a ‘Miranda’, just remember you’re there to learn and get experience, THEN you can start working your way up.
  8. If you’re reading this you’re very likely to have an eye for style but let’s be practical, the fashion cupboard is not the place to debut your new heeled booties. It may look glam from the outside but most of your time will be spent running about to and fro for brands and sorting returns.
  9. Be prepared to have many a meltdown. It’s a stressful stressful industry, but we love it and it will pay off. Keep your head up, you can do this!

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