NEW YORK — Paul F. Rosengard, chief executive officer of Boston Traders, shared his job-hunting wisdom with F.I.T. students Thursday afternoon in an address titled, “Getting to Happily Ever After: How to Find Your Dream Job and Then Succeed Once You Arrive.”
Offering up practical advice to a roomful of fashion students and citing people like Henry Ford and Abraham Maslow, Rosengard said: “My industry needs more talent. I’m happy to find one or two today. That’s one of the reasons I come here.” Since one of the most important things to finding a job is to come prepared, he asked for a show of hands of how many brought their résumés with them, and only two hands shot up. “If you don’t have a job, you should have your résumé with you every day. Think about that chance meeting on the subway.”
During a 45-minute presentation, Rosengard cited numerous advantages of working in the fashion industry, which he called “inherently interesting.”
“You’ll be more relevant to your children than the average doctor, lawyer or investment banker,” he said. Rosengard explained that the key to professional happiness is to figure out what you enjoy doing and figure out how to make a living doing it. He told the fashion merchandising and design students they were already ahead of the game: “You have clarity on what industry you want to work in. Clarity is always good. You will spend more time in the office than you do at home. If you’re looking for 9 to 5 — sorry, friends, it doesn’t exist.”
Rosengard said the purpose of business is to make money, “and if you want to create beauty, go work someplace else,” and create paintings, for example.
“The prettiest shirt in the store is the one that sells the most. Our mission is to find the intersection between art and commerce,” said Rosengard, noting the only trends he cares about are the sales trends.
He gave the students his favorite six words: “Begin with the end in mind.” He said the end goal is to get a job, and you have to be prepared to do that every day.
Rosengard also told the students when they interview at fashion companies, try to meet as many people as they can. “If you only meet with human resources, it’s not a company you want to work for. Make the time and effort to get to know the receptionist and the security guard. People trump product. It’s the people who create and change the product. Don’t choose a company solely on product. There’s nothing more important than finding, attracting and retaining the right people,” said Rosengard. Considering that the fashion business is a customer service industry, he said one of the best experiences one can have is being a waiter or a waitress, and that should be included on one’s résumé. He also told the students to deeply research the companies they’re interviewing at, Google the people they will be meeting and learn about their careers. “It’s no longer six degrees of separation, it’s two degrees of separation,” he said. He also told them to look at people’s educational background and see who went to F.I.T. and connect that way. Before they interview at a fashion company, visit the stores and make observations. And figure out what value they can add to a company. He also told the students that when they are asked, “What are your weaknesses?” they should respond, “‘My opportunities for improvement are…’
“Never use weaknesses,” he said.
In talking about his own four P’s: people, product, preparation and patterns, he gave this final tidbit of advice: He said people are always contacting him for people’s e-mail addresses. “If you can spell their name, you can get their e-mail.” For example, he said, Terry Lundgren, chairman and ceo of Macy’s, is email@example.com. “It works for everyone. It’s a pattern you can use.”