Merchandise Product Development Grad, 2008
Rebecca Choi graduated from FIDM with a Merchandise Product Development degree in 2008, and as a result of her tenacity and perseverance, she is now an Assistant Buyer for Ross Stores!
Tell us a little about yourself: Whenever somebody asks me this question, I start by saying, "I graduated from FIDM in 2008." Pursuing my passion was the beginning of my story. As somebody who wanted to learn about the industry, but was clueless as to the different careers possible, I knew FIDM was the best place to start. After visiting FIDM for the first time and learning about my major, I was instantly sold. During my time at FIDM, I had an opportunity to learn about careers within the fashion industry. I knew that I wanted to eventually become a buyer. After graduating, I started working at a small company as an assistant merchandiser/buyer. After a few years, I moved on to work for a very high fashion company as an assistant buyer in their accessories and shoe department. Although I enjoyed my career, I wanted to work for a company that would offer me more growth potential. As I considered a move, I received an interview request from an off-price retailer that I'd applied to a few years back. The timing couldn't have been more perfect. As I was wanting to learn more and move on, I was given a great opportunity from a company I respected. I now work for Ross Stores as an assistant buyer in the Juniors division. It was quite a career change. I went from working at a fast paced small fashion company to a large fashion company, and everything changed for me—from numbers to planning to the people. It's been wonderful.
Tell us how you found out about the job: I found the job through the FIDM job board. I applied a couple of years back, and every time I updated my resume, I re-applied, confident that one day I would be given an opportunity!
What do you do? My responsibilities include product development (test new styles, choose color, fabric, print options, etc.); communicating with vendors; sales reviews to determine reorders and study trends; comp shopping; and running various reports to help buyers and managers in planning for the future.
What fashion websites/blogs do you love to visit? Polyvore, The Cool Hour, Fashion Toast, Nasty Gal, and ModCloth.
How did you know FIDM was the right college for you? At first, I approached it like I imagine most people do, thinking 'if you work in fashion, you must be a designer.' But, my initial visit to FIDM opened my eyes. It made me realize that there are many creative careers beyond mere design. Compared to other colleges, FIDM seemed more realistic. I was confident that I would get the proper kind of training to prepare me for the real world.
How did you decide on your major? I liked the concept of learning every part of the fashion industry, looking at it as a whole rather than just staying focused on one area. With my major, I learned a little bit about everything: the design portion, pattern making, production, buying, and merchandising, which helped me to make informed career decisions.
What was your favorite class at FIDM? My two favorite classes were Effective Speaking and Classification & Line Development. Public speaking had been one of my biggest fears, but taking my speech class helped me to improve my public speaking dramatically. I became a stronger communicator, a valuable asset for my career. Merchandising and designing was a fun class. I used everything I learned during the two years. I drew on all of my knowledge to create something of my own. I also met a great professor through the class, whom I still contact for advice, and whom I keep posted on how I'm doing!
How do you feel FIDM prepared you for what you're doing now?
I think it prepared me for the real world. FIDM taught me to know what to expect, and which areas to work on strengthening.
Any advice for current FIDM Students? To stay actively involved and participate in FIDM events. That's the one thing I regret—not attending events and taking advantage of all the activities and networking that FIDM offers.
What is your biggest goal right now? Eventually my goal is to become a buyer, and continue to move my way up. But most importantly, my biggest goal is to become an expert at what I do, and to continue to stay passionate and enjoy my career!
Are you interested in pursuing a career in the fashion industry? Find out what you could do with a degree from FIDM.