Q. I am going to be graduating soon with a degree in economics but I really want to work in the fashion industry. How can I apply for jobs when all my education is pointing in the wrong direction?
A. Many of us find that our careers take off in directions that have little if anything to do with our degree. I’m a professional resume writer but my degree from MIT is in Chemical Engineering. That does not mean my degree is worthless, as it uniquely qualifies me to write technical resumes.
You should take a look at your courses from the point of view of a potential employer who is interested in employees who understand business finances, who work efficiently and creatively, and who follow through successfully on a project. You have probably accomplished all that and more during your college years, whatever your degree. You might also look for part-time or volunteer opportunities (for example, a fashion show fundraiser in your case) related to your desired profession.
Q. Is it worthwhile to mention my work history when it has nothing to do with my degree or the career I want to pursue?
A. The answer here is closely related to the previous answer. Every job, no matter what the industry, involves skills that companies are interested in: reliability, communication, teamwork, leadership, and a strong work ethic. The fact that you have worked while earning a degree is impressive, regardless of the type of job. When writing your resume, do not focus on the day-to-day tasks you handled but on the contribution you made as an employee.
Q. Is it a good idea to ask my professors for letters of recommendation?
A. You should ask if your professors would be willing to serve as references, allow you to post their recommendations online on professional sites like LinkedIn, or include a brief version of their recommendations in your resume. Do not list “references available on request” on your resume and do not pester your professors for repeated letters. The company you are applying to will let you know if they want references. At that point, alert potential references that a company is likely to contact them, whether by phone or email, and make sure they are still willing to recommend you.