A mermaid in a sea of fish

Amber Thomas, Community Co-Editor

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As soon as I turned 16, I desperately searched for a job, which turned out to be a lot harder than I expected. I applied to any and every place, including McDonald’s, and even they turned me down.

Come on. I was private school educated, active in my community and just darn right cute! Who wouldn’t want to receive their McDouble and large-sized fries from me?

Soon my frustrating endeavor came to an end when I discovered that Dots, a clothing retailer, was hiring. I immediately turned in my application and awaited a call.

Within a week I received a call informing me that they were interested in interviewing me. My heart warmed. I’ve always had a knack for putting clothes together. Even the thought of different styles, trends and fabrics excited me, so needless to say this was my teenage dream job.

My first interview called for something cute. I wore a cerulean blue pullover, destructed denim vest by yours truly before that was even a thing, a navy striped bodycon skirt and tan ankle boots. When I think back on it, it may have been a little bold, but I got the job.

For the next three years, Dots became my second home. I learned and grew in the world of retail. Unfortunately, Dots closed permanently, causing me to find another job. Of course, it was another clothing retailer and, from then until now, all of my jobs have been in that field.

As I entered college, I had a dream of being a broadcaster on a big television network. That dream was short-lived when I discovered that I didn’t particularly care for the back-work behind it. I then changed my major from communication to business because I knew I’d excel in that division. The University of Toledo has a great business program. Bloomberg ranked it to be in the top 100 best undergraduate business schools in the nation for 2016, so I was eager to see what I could gain from it.

As I shifted to the new program, I knew that I wanted remain creative and I wanted to veer in the direction of the fashion and beauty world.

I soon learned that our accredited college is known for molding people into positions for companies such as 3M, Dana and Penske to name a few, but these weren’t going to fulfill my desires. Don’t get me wrong: They’re great companies, but I knew they weren’t for me.

This became discouraging because I didn’t want to conform to the cut-out that our college was creating. I wanted to do something different, so I decided to create my own journey.

Pursuing fashion at a school without a fashion major is disheartening, but I was given an option to sink or swim and I decided to swim. Being the mermaid in a sea full of fish can be hard, but you were made a mermaid for a reason.

When I discovered that I wanted to remain in the fashion world, I devised a “career blue print” that focused on my goal setting criteria.

I have three notebooks that consist of all of the journeys in my life: career, finance and personal. My career notebook has all of my goals that I have and will meet.

The fashion journey that I am on requires a lot of organization, networking, persistence and extensive research, as do a lot of careers, but in my opinion these are the core four.

In addition to being extremely organized, networking is probably one of the more essential facets of succeeding in any career, but I knew I had to go ten times harder. The networking you conduct has to be sincere; you have to genuinely build the relationship and be tenacious with it.

You think not having a fashion major is hard, but try living in a small city with limited opportunities in your forte.

I decided to join StyleList, a fashion organization at the University of Toledo, and fashion wasn’t even the reason behind it, creativity was. Being around like-minded people with the same creative goals as you is satisfying. Although we might not all feel strongly about fashion, we all are in tune with self-expression.

Persistency within relationships as well as with yourself is vital. Understand that it gets hard, but nothing in life is easy.

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A mermaid in a sea of fish