Why My Fashion Degree Made Me a Better Project Manager
If you had told me in college that I would be a project manager, I would have said, “what’s a project manager?”. It was never even a job I knew existed. As far as I was concerned, I was ready to graduate with my fashion degree and become a designer, a visual merchandiser, or really anything that allowed me to be creative. However, after I graduated I found myself in an operations/project management role. I also found that I was good at it; it made so much sense to me. I knew this was something I needed to pursue. I would often joke with my colleagues that me being a project manager totally made sense because I’d spent a chunk of my life studying fashion (heavy sarcasm). However, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that the skills I learned throughout my degree were invaluable to how I operate as a project manager.
Through collaborative projects, I learned to work with different and very strongly opinionated people to achieve a common goal. I learned how to take an idea from conception to a tangible product and how to develop and refine that idea through the process. My pattern-making and apparel construction classes taught me to always triple check my work before I made a final decision. I needed to keep myself accountable to timelines and keep myself driven when there was no one else to push me. Finally, my whole experience taught me how to think creatively and objectively to achieve realistic and sensible goals.
As I move through my day-to-day as a project manager, I’m continually using these skills. I’m in constant communication with people, whether that be internal or client teams, and I need to know how to work best with all of them. I need to make sure our projects are following our processes, but I also need to identify when we need to pivot and think outside the box when faced with unexpected challenges.
In my role at a creative agency, I’m definitely on the business and operations side. However, even knowing how to think or how to approach work creatively helps set the right mindset. And when I think about it, I’ve somehow ended up where I wanted to be in college, working in a creative industry and surrounded by amazingly talented, creative people. What I’ve learned is that there are more roles in the creative industry than just being a designer. They need people who think operationally and objectively while maintaining an innovative mindset. Having a balance between my creative degree and my “project manager brain” is what I believe makes me a good project manager.