Tips for Learning Online

2017 Fashion Industry Exchange and Leadership Development (FIELD) project presentation

Over the course of the last year, there has been a huge shift to online learning, which can be an adjustment from in-person learning. Therefore, in this post I would like to share some tips on how to effectively learn online.

Set your schedule and manage your time

To successfully learn online, self-discipline is crucial. I recommend treating your online courses as an in-person course and attend your lectures as scheduled and prepare for your classes ahead of time. Each week, set out a plan to complete your weekly readings and assignments and stick to it. It is important that you set aside a specific and consistent time each week for lecture and study to make sure you stay on top of your assignments.

Create a regular study space – free of distraction

Since online learning provides the ability to learn anywhere including the comfort of our own home, it becomes increasingly easy to get distracted. Therefore, create a designated study space for yourself that is free from distractions. Just think of the number of times that you pick up your phone or scroll through Instagram and lose your train of thought. Our time is precious and it is important to create an environment where you can stay focused on your lectures and maximize your study time.

Create online study groups

Even though you are learning online, does not mean you can’t create study groups with your peers. Studying together can be an effective way to learn new concepts and it can make online learning more enjoyable. Try setting up regularly meetings with your group to work on assignments and study, which will also help you stay on track.

Reach out for assistance and ask questions

Ask for help. If you have any questions, be sure to reach out to your professors about coursework through email or meet them virtually during their designated office hours. You can also check out Seneca’s Learning Online resource page for more academic support.

Budgeting for Students

Fashion studies student at the Contemporary Textile Studio

As the Fall semester fast approaches, one of the most important skill that a student can have is how to budget.

As a student, planning out your budget for the semester is crucial for not becoming overwhelmed and stressed about paying for your studies. By budgeting and learning to manage your finances, you can focus on the other things that make college life worthwhile.

In this post, I provide some easy budgeting steps to help students stay on top of their finances this semester.

1. Knowing what to expect – Variable vs. fixed costs

First, you would need to determine your monthly expenses and there are two different types – fixed and variable.

Your fixed costs would be those expenses that generally do not change over a certain period of time. For example, your tuition would be considered a fixed expense since the amount is set and will not change over the course of the semester. Variable expenses are those that may be unexpected or vary in cost over a period of time such as entertainment.

To get a better understanding of what to expect, I recommend using an excel sheet to list all possible expenses that you may have throughout the semester (including your morning coffee) and then categorize them as fixed or variable. Also, be as realistic as possible!

2. Funding your education – Figure out how much you can spend

Next step is to figure out your funds to help cover those expenses. For students, this could include a part-time job, a work study position, scholarships, grants or a student loan.

I recommend starting with scholarships and grants, which are great ways to fund your education without debt. To find out information about applying to scholarships and grants, my advice would be to visit your college website or discuss with your financial aid office to understand which scholarships and grants are available to you.

Next, if you are able to work while you study or require placement hours for your program, an internship or work-study position may be a great avenue to explore. Try asking your professors if they know of positions available in your field of study or perhaps signing up to a work-study program at your college.

Once you’ve exhausted the avenues above, perhaps you may want to consider a student loan. For students in Ontario, the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) would be a good resource to explore.

After securing ways to pay for your education, in the excel sheet, add all the potential sources and the amount of funds that you can expect from each.

3. Getting your financial picture – Evaluate the difference

Find the difference and subtract your expenses from your available funds. This exercise will provide insight into whether you will need to reconsider some of your expenses.

If your expenses far outweigh your expected funds, it is time to evaluate where you can reduce and save. For example, opting out of your daily Starbucks and making your coffee at home.

Note, fixed costs are unlikely to change and should be considered a priority especially since tuition, textbooks and rent are common costs for students. On the other hand, variable costs are much easier to reduce and save.

4. Knowledge is power – Regularly track your actual spending

One thing to note is that budgeting is an ongoing process and tracking your actual expenses throughout the semester will help you have a clearer picture of your finances and will allow you to continuously plan ahead and save for future endeavors.

Join me next week when I will be posting: Tips for Learning Online.

Until then, take care.

Series 6: Interview Tips

Photos of Fashion Business Management students.

Preparing for an interview can be both exciting and nerve wracking.  At least for me it is.  As a result, I always find myself overly prepared for job interviews.  Equipped with a notebook and pen, I go into an interview as if I already have the job, helping me turn any feelings of uneasiness into those of confidence.  Here, I will share with you my tips to help prepare you for your next interview.

  1. Do your research

Preparation is key and should always involve conducting preliminary research on the company you are being interviewed to work for.  Why do you want to work for this company?  What is it about their history, reputation and their values that makes them so desirable?

Find out how many people will be present in the job interview and who they are.  I recommend Googling the interviewers to find out more about who they are and the job positions they hold at that company.

2. Review the job description

As a refresher, go over the job description again as well as the cover letter and resume you submitted to the company.  It might have been weeks or even months since you applied for the position.  Be prepared to further explain how your soft and hard skills make you a good fit for this job and how your personality, work experience, and education would make you an asset to the company.

3. Prepare a list of questions

I suggest preparing a list of questions to ask during the interview process.  This is your opportunity to interview the hiring manager to determine if the company is a good fit for you.  Ask questions about the culture of the company and the dynamics of the department you could potentially be working for.  Feel free to take notes throughout the interview as a reminder of topics to bring up once it is your turn to speak.

4. Body Language and more

Let me remind you that the hiring manager liked you enough on paper to call you in for an interview,  so be confident!  Greet your interviewers with a big smile, introduce yourself and offer a firm handshake (depending on COVID-19 restrictions of course!).  Show that you are attentive and actively listening to what the interviewer is saying by making eye contact throughout the interview.

Best of luck and take care,

Stephanie 

Series Five: Creating a Professional Social Media Presence

Creating a professional social media presence is an important mechanism for preparing yourself for work in your chosen field.

Once you have applied for a job, potential employers may search for your social media accounts to learn more about you and to see if you are a good fit for their company. In this blog post, I will share 3 tips on creating a professional social media presence.

  1. Performing a social media audit

A social media audit is conducted to see what platforms and websites a user has created in the past and take inventory of the content.  It can also be performed to alert an individual user to other information and photos posted on the internet that may concern them and of which they were not previously aware. At the end of this exercise, you will need to decide which accounts to keep active and public and which ones to either make private or delete all together.

To begin, I suggest listing all the social media platforms and websites you have ever created and take notes of what is on each one.  Once you have done this, conduct a Google engine search of your full name and a social media site.  Do this for every social media platform you have ever used and write a brief description of what you found. Was the information that appeared in the search about you? If the information you found was not about you, then who was it about?

Based on the information you found, how comfortable would you feel about a potential employer seeing that information? Is the information outdated? Do you feel the content is a true reflection of who you are now? Taking inventory of your platforms and their content is the first step in determining how you currently appear to an online audience and whether or not this accurately reflects the image of yourself that you want projected.  How can you make changes to your platforms and their content to help you land a job?  Close old accounts or make them private if they contain content you do not want potential employers to see.

2. Showcase your strengths

Vivian L. Inspired Spaces Tabletop Competition

Use your social media platform to showcase your professional talents. If you are currently in an artistic program or have recently graduated, show your audience the projects you have worked and/or are currently working on. Make sure to draw attention to the steps you took from start to finish as it will promote and educate your audience about your strengths.

3. Create a brand identity

Use your full name on your social media platforms. This will allow your audience to find you more easily.  Use the same profile image and banner photo across all of your social media accounts as well for consistency.  Include a short bio in all of your account profiles along with any links to your blog or website. Be aware of who your audience is and use your authentic voice when writing and posting content.

Join me next when I will be posting Series Six: Interview Tips.

Until then, take care.

Stephanie 

Alumni Spotlight: Amie DiCarlo

Full name: Amie DiCarlo

Program: Fashion Business

Grad Year: June 2011, With High Honours

Current Position: Entrepreneur

What is your favourite Seneca memory?

My favourite Seneca memory is when I came back in 2019 as an Alumni to speak to first year students about how to run your own fashion business.

If you could give one piece of advice to a student completing the same program as you, what would it be?

The one piece of advice I would give would be to pay attention to every detail of the program. The program is very focused and there is not one piece of information that is not relevant. When learning, try to put each piece of information into the context of a real-world scenario.

How has your career evolved?

My career has evolved from the “idea” of opening my own boutique to building a fashion empire that’s continuously growing. What started with a brick-and-mortar store has expanded into a business that incorporates fashion and styling to help women feel confident from the inside out. I want to stress that I could not have done it alone. I am grateful for my team of employees who put their best heeled foot forward every day. From this day forward, my business will continue to evolve and expand in the process. It is healthy and necessary to be open to change.

How did your Seneca program help you get to where you are now/your current career?

The Fashion Business program at Seneca was a keystone in my career development. It is such an incredibly hands-on program. Whatever I learned I was able to directly apply to my business.

Do you have any other thoughts or memories you would like to share?

I would like to make a point of saying how important it is to appreciate your professors. To this day, I am grateful that I can still keep in touch with the amazing professors with which I had the pleasure of learning during the course of my study at Seneca college. They have been my mentors and were always there when I reached out to them long after I graduated from the program. To me, that says a lot about a college. It shows how much the professors really care. 

Series Four: Job Search Tips

Photo of Kirsten Burkard at Bloor Street Entertains.

Job searching can sometimes feel overwhelming and intimidating.  Reviewing your self assessment plan can help you by giving you fresh confidence in your skills and keeping you focused on your career goals. 

In Series Four: Job Search Tips, I will share with you tips that helped me with my previous job searches. 

  1. Where to look? 

A number of online job search engines exist to help seekers find their dream jobs. Indeed.ca, for instance, is a popular choice for employers and job searchers alike as it allows the searcher to create an account profile, add job preference filters and post their resume online that is then searchable by employers and recruiters.  Many employers also post jobs on LinkedIn and by selecting certain options and filters through their account settings, users can opt to receive notifications for the latest job postings in their field of interest and apply directly. 

Another option is to use the services of a head hunter. A head hunter is a person hired to represent a company in a particular industry by finding and matching suitable candidates to available positions. There are a number of agencies that offer this service. When you sign up with one of these agencies, you will gain access to their online portal of job postings and descriptions to which you can then choose to apply.  Generally, the head hunter will read through your resume and cover letter and then meet with you for an interview. They will then decide if you meet the requirements of a particular job and whether you should be interviewed by the company offering the position. The head hunter will also reach out to your references on behalf of the employer. Head hunters are paid by the employer once a candidate is hired.  Job seekers should never be asked to pay the head hunter for their services.

It is also common for companies to post careers and new job openings on their websites. Take some time and make a list of the companies you would like to work for before getting started on your job search.

I highly recommend you stay in touch with your program coordinators and faculty.  They are often emailed directly from companies regarding available entry-level positions.  It helps to give your contact information to your coordinator before graduating so that you can be easily notified of new opportunities.  

2. Reviewing the job description

Carefully read through the job description to make sure you have the required work experience, education and skills before applying.  The job description should state the hard and soft skills as well as the number of years of work experience the company has deemed necessary to successfully perform the work they are offering. 

3. Applying for the job

You are now ready to apply for your dream job!  I recommend researching the company when writing your cover letter (refer back to Series Two: Cover Letter for tips!).  From your research, use a few examples of why you admire the company and explain why you would be a good fit for them and the best candidate for the job. Make sure to showcase your skills that are also listed in the job posting.  Needless to say, only mention skills in your cover letter that you actually possess! 

Remember to address the cover letter to the hiring manager.  I suggest calling the company to find out who that person would be. 

Make sure to tailor your resume to the specific job position you are applying for.  Remove any non-essential skills or job history that would be considered irrelevant to the current position.

4. Following up on the status of your application 

I suggest waiting two weeks before calling or writing to the hiring manager to follow up on your application. You want to give the hiring manager enough time to thoroughly review your cover letter and resume as they have also likely received applications from other interested candidates. When you are following up, be respectful and reaffirm your interest in the position.  You may want to briefly reiterate your skills and remember to thank that person for their time. 

Join me next week when I will be posting Series Five: Professional Social Media Accounts.

Until then, take care.

Stephanie 

Fashion Photoshoots from Home

Photo courtesy of Zara.

Fashion advertisements have always captivated audiences with their lavish destination photoshoots, over-the-top sets and seemingly limitless budgets.  However, with brands now having to adapt to constantly evolving COVID-19 restrictions, these extravagantly orchestrated photoshoots appear to have vanished.  Marketing budgets have been cut as many stores continue to remain closed and customers spend less.  The financial repercussions of COVID-19 on the fashion industry is becoming increasingly evident with many fearing the worst is yet to be seen.  Nevertheless, fashion brands such as Aritzia and Zara are persevering in their attempts to overcome the negative impact of COVID on marketing by photographing their models at home while simultaneously highlighting their newest product arrivals and staying relatable to customers who are also confined to their living spaces.

According to Refinery 29, Zara sent their latest collections to model’s homes so that they could be styled and photographed off-site and in accordance with social distancing guidelines.  With models living all over the world, the images were still beautifully diverse and well curated.  Aritzia also photographed their models at home for their digital campaign but took it one step further by announcing a call-to-action asking their customers to photograph themselves at home wearing Aritzia’s latest arrivals.  Customers and employees were asked to use the hashtag #ArtiziaAtHome when uploading their photos to Instagram. The response was amazing and also gave the audience an opportunity to see how other shoppers styled their purchases.

Historically, fashion has always been able to adjust and prevail in the face of social and economic uncertainty.   Evidently, this pandemic will be no different.

Reference:

Huber, Eliza. “Zara Models Shot The Latest Campaign In Their Own Homes.” Refinery29.com, Refinery 29, Apr 8, 2020. https://www.refinery29.com/en-us/2020/04/9669435/zara-new-arrivals-models-at-home-photoshoot. Accessed 3 June 2020.

Series Three: LinkedIn Tips

Professor Anna Cappuccitti at the Dex showroom with students in the Fashion Business and Fashion Business Management programs.

LinkedIn always seemed to me like this daunting monster of a platform. I confess that I had an account for about nine years before posting any professional content besides my profile photo and my name.

When I first created my LinkedIn account, I was concerned about posting any of my resume details because I was afraid that my employer at the time would stumble upon it and think (incorrectly) that I was actively looking for another job.  I did not fully understand all of the benefits of having an account and that there was more to it than just job searching. In Series Three: LinkedIn, I will share five tips for creating a strong LinkedIn account, whether you are looking for a job or you simply want to network with like-minded individuals in your field.

  1. Select the Appropriate Profile Photo

Including a professional profile photo is important as it allows your “connections” to put a face to your name and get a better sense of who you are.  Use a current, tightly cropped headshot of yourself in business attire.  You are dressing for success and you want your photo to make a professional first impression on potential employers and recruiters.  

2. List Your Core Skills

Whether you are a student or a member of the work-force, as long as you continue to learn, your list of hard skills will also grow and evolve.  For this reason, I recommend updating your skills list at least once a year so that your most current and developed skills are always adequately represented in your profile to potential employers and recruiters.   I suggest keeping your list to 3 to 5 core skills. You can then ask for further endorsement of these skills from your connections.

3. LinkedIn Feed

Your LinkedIn feed should highlight news, stories, and other information relevant to your field and give your connections the opportunity to comment and get involved with current industry topics that matter to you.  Sharing content in your feed allows your connections to see what interests you and can help set you apart from other profiles.  Look for news articles, case studies, and the latest research from reputable sources to share.

4. Commenting

Increase engagement through commenting on other people’s feeds and the news they share.  Write something thoughtful that relates to what others have posted, whether it be a congratulatory message to one of your connections for starting a new job or receiving a promotion, or commenting on a case study they have shared.  Make sure you are clear, concise, and keep the comments constructive.  I also suggest commenting on the feed of someone you admire professionally.  The most important part of engagement is to make meaningful connections with other people in your industry.

5. Follow Industry Leaders

Industry leaders are the thought leaders of your field of interest.  They are actively engaged in advancements within their industry and are recognized by others for how they contributed to its evolution.  These are well-connected, influential people with a substantial amount of industry experience and insight.  You can re-share relevant content these leaders have posted for your own connections to see.

Join me next week when I will be posting Series Four: Job Search Tips.

Until then, take care.

Stephanie 

Alumni Spotlight: Nicole Ralph

Photo credit: Nicole Ralph

Full name: Nicole Ralph

Program:  Esthetics & Spa Therapies

Grad Year: 2020

Current Position: Esthetician

What is your favourite Seneca memory?

My first time participating in the Seneca Open House.

If you could give one piece of advice to a student completing the same program as you, what would it be?

Ask for help when you need it. There isn’t one professor I’ve had whom I was afraid to ask for help about course material and/or career guidance. They all want to see you succeed in school and beyond.

How has your career evolved?

I’ve discovered what area of the industry I have a true passion for and I know exactly what career I want to work towards outside of the spa environment.  

How did your Seneca program help you get to where you are now/your current career?  

The different opportunities to participate in off/on campus events exposed me to different people/networking opportunities and allowed me to discuss my passion for skincare. Most importantly, the training and guidance I received from professors gave me the confidence to apply to many spas I initially thought were “out of my league”.

Do you have any other thoughts or memories you would like to share?

Whether you are a student right out of high school or a mature student like I was, I highly recommend volunteering to be part of the SMILE program. You get to meet and learn about so many different people.  Take advantage of the fitness center and the ice arena too. Both are great places to relieve any stress especially during midterms/finals!

Series Two: Cover Letter Tips

Image from Adobe Spark

A cover letter is an important complementary support document that should always accompany your resume when applying for employment.  It represents the very first impression you will make on a potential employer and should effectively and persuasively demonstrate who you are, your knowledge of the company you hope to work for and how your unique set of skills and accomplishments would make you the best fit for the role you are applying for.

In this post, I will be sharing five tips for creating the foundation of your cover letter that will be just as important as your resume. Cover letters should be revised and tailored to each new job you apply for.

  1. Formatting

Your cover letter should be only one page long. Be sure to use the same letter head, font and font size you used when creating your resume. The font should be simple and easy to read. Your cover letter should be about three to four paragraphs in length.

2. Address the appropriate person

Find out the name of the hiring manager so that you can address the correct person when writing your cover letter. This will show that you have done your research and set you apart from other applicants.  Try looking for this information on the company website or directory, if there is one, or call up the company and ask for the name of the hiring manager.

3. Do your research

When writing your cover letter, be sure to research the company you are applying to work for. Look up the company online and follow their social media platforms. This can provide you with some additional information about the company that you might not have been able to get from simply looking at the job posting. Include in your letter why you want to work for the company and reference your research. If you don’t know anything about the company, it will be difficult to convince an employer why you want to work for them and why they should hire you.

4. Your experience

In this section of your cover letter, you will explain why your education, work experience, and volunteer work make you a strong candidate for the position. Here, you can mention your hard and soft skills. For example, I would advise highlighting your experience with video conferencing and working virtually with supervisors and team members. During these unprecedented times, I am sure you have gained a wealth of knowledge in these areas from either working or studying from home.  These new skills will speak to your ability to be flexible and adapt to new and challenging work environments.

5. Editing

Your cover letter should be edited by a friend or mentor with strong proof-reading skills. I recommend using the same proof-reader that edited your resume. They will be able to refer back to your resume and make educated, objective suggestions regarding use of specific skills or experience you might have failed to mention in your cover letter.

Join me next week when I will be posting Series Three: LinkedIn.

Until then, take care.

Stephanie