[Illustration my own].
If you're looking to get into fashion journalism as a career, chances are that you've heard of the Postgraduate Certificate in Fashion and Lifestyle Journalism at the London College of Fashion, or LCF, as it's known.
Regular or beady-eyed readers may recall that this is the course that I undertook back in 2010-2011, which made me realise that a job without writing is a job that I don't want to do, so naturally I've been scribbling away ever since - currently that involves writing travel and related lifestyle features for publications such as Zest and the Sun. But when I came to research the course it was hard to prepare myself for heading to interview at the fashion world's Oxbridge equivalent, and it would have been incredibly useful to have had some pointers or reassurance from people who had been there, done that and bought the (official uni) t-shirt. Here are the questions that I think could give you a hand, and feel free to add your own if there's something I've missed:
What the heck is a Postgraduate Certificate, and is it worth considering instead of a Master's?
Essentially, the PG Cert equates to 2/3 of a Master's in terms of the workload, yet it's completed in 1/3 of the time. This means that it instantly teaches you to train yourself for the kind of tight deadlines that you'd face as a professional, plus you're getting your qualification quicker. If you're enthusiastic and you want to learn then this is the kind of course where you can soak everything up like a sponge. Personally I'd love to do it all again.
If you're more keen to write essays and you don't want to be rushed then the Masters is a longer and more appropriate option, but opting for the PG Cert doesn't get you out of academic writing altogether!
Will I need to have a long list of fashion magazine internships under my belt in order to even be considered?
Not necessarily. You do need to show that you are involving yourself in the industry, whether that means having your writing published or running your own fashion blog and keeping it updated (no, one post every six months doesn't cut it). In my case, I was a voluntary contributor to a magazine that was also an art installation, held in Selfridges. This certainly wasn't your average publication, but it taught me a lot about thinking on my feet and I loved the experience.
What's the teaching like?
Really strong, with an approachable team. You certainly won't be falling asleep in lectures here, thanks to guest lecturers who work for a wide range of publications - some as editors, some as in-house journalists, others as freelancers. You'll learn how to use Adobe Photoshop and Indesign as well as basic blogging principles. If you have a niche interest such as art, beauty or hair then it will really be encouraged, as every student is an individual. A personal tutor supports you through your final project and the teachers also give detailed feedback on coursework, so you'll always understand what level you're working at.
Can I balance the PG Cert with a part-time job?
Yes, but be realistic. Don't take on ridiculous shifts when you've got coursework due in! There's much more of a focus on self-directed learning as a postgraduate and you get out what you put in.
Do I have to relocate to London whilst I'm studying?
You don't have to live in London but it does help. If you're going to commute then make sure you allocate time to stay longer in the city than precise uni hours, as London is full of industry events and cultural openings that could give you inspiration for features or your final project. Also you'll frequently have lectures just round the corner from the Topshop flagship store, so don't forget to schedule in some post-uni shopping with your classmates.
Will the course help me find a job at a magazine or newspaper?
It will teach you how to produce all kinds of writing, from features to short news pieces, so you'll have a portfolio that shows off everything you can do. Having this qualification from LCF will be really impressive, but that's not where the hard work ends. You then have to go out there and start pitching your work as a graduate and add to that portfolio, because you need to build on what you've learned by getting results for yourself.
The course is what shapes you as a writer and gives you all the tools you'll need so you can apply for jobs and internships with confidence. In 2012 we're more into internship culture than ever and the magazine industry is certainly no stranger to that, so not everyone can walk into a full-time paid role, but you can still gain valuable experience.
What other skills will I pick up if I choose Fashion and Lifestyle Journalism - can I apply what I learn to a slightly different career path if I don't end up as a journalist?
There are definitely a lot of transferable skills that you'll pick up here. Learning about press releases and PR sites helps if you're leaning towards being a Press Officer or Marketing Assistant, whilst some people have found that they enjoyed using Adobe Indesign so much that they're thinking about working more on the visual side of magazines and websites rather than the journalistic side.
Where can I find more information about the course?
Head to the FLJ PG Certificate page for all of the details you'll need.