ATM students gain industry knowledge from travel study courses

EMU's fashion students learn about the industry at the headquarters of Volcom in southern California.

Studying fashion in a city that isn’t considered a fashion capital is hard to do. When your major isn’t taken seriously and there aren’t as many options of companies to work for, what do you do? Switch your market.

The apparel, textiles, and merchandising program at Eastern Michigan University offers travel studies courses where students can visit top fashion markets such as Los Angeles, New York and Las Vegas to meet professionals in their fields and get an idea of what it would be like to work with them.

These trips even have helped some students get positions in the field, like designing for Victoria’s Secret or assistant buying for J.C. Penney. Here are five ways going on an extended programs trip can help your future career and friendships:

1. You can network with people in person instead of on LinkedIn: Blake Boyle, a senior ATM major, said “It was a great trip to network with industry professionals from the West Coast, and without this trip I don’t think I would have ever been able to.”

Networking online is fine too, but there is nothing like face-to-face interaction. It helps to have met someone before you email him or her about a job rather than just dry emailing. Who you know will get you in the door and what you know keeps you there.

2. The experience provides inspiration: Elizabeth Lang, a junior ATM major, said “I would say that it was the most inspiring experience since I have been at Eastern. It really gave me hope about being successful in the fashion industry after listening to everyone’s stories. I’m ready to get out there.”

Going outside of your comfort zone can help you realize your full potential or just re-energize you and give you hope about working in such a competitive business.

3. You learn a lot more about yourself and the market: When you go out of town without family or close friends, it provides a clarity that you might not have gotten before that helps you understand what you like and don’t like and what you ultimately want to do.

Ponce Garner, an ATM student, said “The knowledge I gained from getting a one-on-one interaction with experienced people in the industry helped me figure out what I want to do after graduation and speaking with them gave me some guidance on what I will need to do to make it in the field.”

These trips are designed to help you learn about yourself as well as other people.

“It was a very great learning experience,” said LaBria Browder, another ATM student. “Not really knowing what I want to do after graduation, it definitely gave me some guidance in deciding what I want to do.”

4. You get to know people in your major: Let's face it, you’re stuck with the same group of people for seven days on these trips so it’s either make friends or make enemies. Not only can you build great friendships, but you can also build a great network of people in the same industry as you.

“It was really amazing to see how other people have succeeded in the fashion industry and I learned more about myself and what direction I want to go in for my career,” said Emily Koprowski, a junior ATM student.  “I also got to know more amazing people in my program.”

5. You get to know your professors: Sometimes it’s hard to build a good relationship with your professors outside of the classroom. Between them teaching classes and you having class, working or anything else can be difficult. It is sometimes hard to meet during their office hours and just chat with them and it can be very awkward too.

But when you are on a trip with professors, you have no choice but to talk to them. Professors are more likely to write letters of recommendation and use their contacts for someone they know rather than just one student who has been in their class.

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