Delisha Fields, senior manager of marketing and activations at IMG Fashion, praised the help and insights of her mentors for shaping her career in fashion. But the LIM College class of 2011 graduate also cited the importance of coursework, research and hands-on experiences for her success.
Here, as part of a series of career path Q&As with alumni from fashion, retailing and merchandising schools, Fields discusses her career development as well as how she reframed setbacks into chances to succeed.
WWD: How did your coursework and your experience at LIM help inform your career decisions?
Delisha Fields: The courses I took at LIM College are the foundation of my job. Taking courses such as InDesign, public speaking and event planning have aided me immensely in my career. The hands-on experience I had, along with the knowledge the professors shared, led me to pursue a career in fashion events and marketing.
WWD: If you could go back in time and give career advice to your younger self, what would you say?
D.F.: I would tell my younger self to strive to work with brands that will allow me to reach my career goals and personal objectives versus trying to work with brands solely based on their status or name. So far, I’ve had a pretty successful career in fashion marketing and have applied my degree to the role. When you’re fresh out of college you reflexively seek career opportunities based on brand recognition versus the responsibilities of the role you’re applying for — this is where a lot of young adults go wrong.
WWD: How would you describe your career path? What were some of the challenges you faced?
D.F.: I feel I’ve been very successful so far. It’s rare to find a multicultural woman under the age of 30 in a senior management position in fashion. I’ve worked very hard to get to where I am and don’t regret any of my career choices or how I’ve handled the challenges I’ve faced.
At times I’ve been faced with adversity based on gender, age, race, etc., that made me hesitant to pursue certain goals. But I know that challenges are hidden blessings and what may seem at first to be a setback is really only preparing you for something great — this mantra has been the force behind reaching and exceeding my career goals.
WWD: Have you had mentors at LIM or in the industry? If yes, how have they helped you?
D.F.: Throughout my time at LIM, I was privileged to get great advice from Professor Derek Cockle and former Professor Michael Palladino. They gave me valuable insight on everything from how to get the job of my dreams to how to make professional contacts, which prepared me to venture into the professional world comfortably and confidently. Professionally, I consider Don Schmoll, marketing director at Elle Decor, as a mentor. He’s given me sound advice about life, how to overcome adversity and how to make a lasting impact at any company I work for. I’ve been blessed to have crossed paths with all three of them and truly respect what they’ve done in the industry.
WWD: What advice would you give someone considering a career in the retail and fashion apparel market?
D.F.: I get this question a lot, and these are always my top suggestions:
Number one: Do your homework. Research the industry you want to get involved in before you decide what you want to do. As a freshman in college I wanted to be a buyer, but after doing in-depth research about the profession, I realized it wasn’t for me and the requirements of the role didn’t align with my true passion.
Number two: Don’t underestimate any opportunity that comes your way. Everything happens for a reason. You may be offered an internship at a boutique agency or an entry-level job at a small mom-and-pop-shop apparel company…and you never know where that experience, knowledge and professional exposure will take you. I truly believe everything happens for a reason and nothing ever falls in your lap. Even though something may not appear to be a glamorous opportunity, the benefits and rewards that you take away from that experience can be gold.