Written and Illustration by: Josh Zegans
When faced with the woes of post-graduation, many young adults are left to the vices of job security and financial stability. We are given the tools we need to succeed with our specified degree, yet do not always end up on a path we had hoped for. Passions and interests will be pushed towards the background of our lives, and the foreground is filled with avoiding the unemployment line. Not to mention the pressure pushed onto us from our parents, who constantly fret over whether or not their child can make due with their lives in their creative fields.
Danielle Smith, Assistant Planner at Free People, is a fashion-minded individual that didn’t necessarily take the traditional route towards her current career. While she made the transition into a postgraduate lifestyle, Smith was looking to utilize her finance degree from St. Joseph’s University at PWC to get ahead in today’s job market.
“I had a professor [at St. Joe’s] tell me ‘put in your dues…. you’ll waste time in a dim sector for a few years of your life in order to gain success’, which wasn’t appealing to me.”.
Smith alluded to the fact that after college, some jobs require you to spend countless hours on aimless work in order to work up a ‘corporate ladder’. While money may seem like the end-goal to some, many want to devote their lives to a cause that revolves around passion, creativity and diversity.
Having styled her own wardrobe from an early age, Danielle Smith has always allowed fashion to play a role in her personal and professional life. While in college, she worked her summers as a retail associate at Nordstrom, as well as a Style Guru for a well-known, collegiate fashion blog known as CollegeFashionista.
When deciding to make her shift into the world of fashion, Danielle came to a realization that the gritty world of finance was not the path for her while working for PWC. Looking for jobs that allowed a sense of creative freedom, Free People, an offshoot brand of Urban Outfitters, seemed to be the best place for her.
Taking over the tasks of financial planning, she’s able to use her finance skills to help the company’s buying team with sales plans. Smith also seemed excited to share the aspects of her corporate culture that others may aspire to adapt to.
“At PWC, I had to wear business casual clothing, whereas Free People allows a company culture filled with self-expressive people.” said Smith. “With an open layout and minimal dress code, every employee is able to bring their own creative output to ‘the table’.”.
Free People’s products have truly reflected this quote. Each piece may be carefully planned, but they also provide a bohemian style that many aspire to develop in their own lives.
When I asked for some personal advice, Danielle told me her own life motto: “There’s no better or worse, just different pros and cons.”
Rather than giving up your life goals for money or power, it’s important to remember that we must strive to fulfill dreams of passion and self-interest. In Danielle’s case, fashion has become a realized dream.