In recession, design grads look to intern, freelance

Mon Sep 14, 2009 5:35pm EDT
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By Rebekah Kebede

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - For a young designer, having a collection at New York's Fashion Week is usually a sign that they've made it.

But for those launching a career during the nation's worst recession in 70 years, even a runway show at the celebrated semi-annual event is not a guarantee of employment.

Seven new graduates from Academy of Art University in San Francisco showed their collections in fashion shows in New York this week but they face a dismal job market.

Rather than land full-time jobs as they would have just a few years ago, design graduates now are often expected to intern or take freelance assignments as fashion companies slash their budgets.

"I'm seeing a trend where a lot of companies are posting internships that really seem to resemble part-time or full-time jobs," said Angie Wojak, director of career services at Parsons New School for Design in New York.

As a result, some young designers are interning well after they graduate.

"(Employers) are wanting to see how people perform, seeing if it is going to be an investment that they want to make before they throw that contract commitment," said Simon Ungless, director of graduate fashion at the Academy of Art in San Francisco.

Students applying for jobs are feeling the changes.   Continued...

<p>A model walks backstage during New York Fashion Week, September 12, 2009. REUTERS/Eric Thayer</p>