By Joseph MacMillan
A time will come when you aren't a model any more. That is the truth.
You might end up quitting because you feel you can't compete with younger models, you're not making money, or you've grown tired of living out of a suitcase without a place to call home. Maybe you want to study in university or you're at a phase in your life where you're thinking about starting a family.
If you're lucky, you might have had a good enough modelling career that you can literally retire and not worry about getting a job. Most models however, will have to worry about getting a "real job" - that dreaded phrase your doubters warned you of the entire time you were modelling has become a reality. What do you put on your resume: "Fashion model - spent many years being good looking and tall?"
I'm writing to you to tell you, own it. Own your experience for all it has given you.
I can assure you that you've been given a gift. You have had time that hardly anybody else I've met outside of the modelling industry has had. You've probably picked up another language. You've had time to read. You've been around the world. If you've been smart, you have managed your time and self-employment with care and have seen success. You have lived in the alpha and alpha-plus cities of the world, in a central apartment, and walked away with some money in your pocket. You've seen more success than most people will see in their lives, and you're still young.
I have gone the route of getting a "real job", working in a corporate environment for the past two years in London. I've used my modelling experience consistently in order to climb the ladder into a successful position for a FTSE 100 company, and you can be damn sure I listed "Fashion Model" as my previous occupation each time I submitted my CV. I even wrote about it in my cover letter, explaining that having lived in the cities I have, managing my business (which is what a model/actor is and does), and experiencing so many cultures has changed my perspective of the world while simultaneously preparing me for the next stage of my life.
I wasn't always proud of being a model; up until a few years ago, I kept it a secret. I was afraid of someone making fun of the fact I was just another male model, saying something like "Derek Zoolander", or the equivalent. I later found out that by embracing the possibility of being taunted - and when it did happen, reacting in a proud and confident manner - actually gave me the upper hand.
Companies need people that look the part. Although it may sound initially superficial, it's the truth. They need people with world experience, language skills, and who can self-manage. Employers are looking to hire someone with charisma.
The best thing you have gained from your modelling experience has to be, confidence. You have stood in front of hundreds of people, all staring at you, and performed (sometimes in your underwear) - which is one of the most commonly listed "worst nightmares" people have. You've lived with people you've never met before. You've gotten on a plane and flew around the world. If you hadn't, you would have never gained the experience you've had after all your years in the industry. Don't downplay what you've done, instead, be confident and proud of how far you've come.
The hardest part of having a regular full time job - is being stuck in one place, all the time. I work in the IT sector for a corporation and for whatever reason, they have people come in to work at an office complex even though in today's modern age we can all easily do our work from home, or on the go. I'm currently writing this from my dentist's waiting room on my phone with ease. It's an old mentality, and I wish I could go walk around all day like I used to.
There are also very specialised skills one could develop while modeling. On top of my "normal job", I've also had great success helping my partner open her own placement agency, Grace Model Management. By combining my own personal experience with my partner's - who herself has worked as a model in more than a dozen markets - we have gained an impressive set of skills to help equip ourselves in opening an agency together. We have developed the skill of knowing which models will work where, what type of model is currently in-demand, and which agencies are the best in each market. It's given us the ability to help develop new models, and help them enjoy the lifestyle we feel so lucky to have had. Our focus is to point our models in the right direction and encourage the career we know they can have with proper guidance.
Years from now, some of them will enter the "normal" workforce, with a special set of skills and confidence that'll make them highly sought-after candidates for potentially great jobs.
Like I said, "Own it".
Joseph MacMillan is a former model and the Co-Owner of Grace Model Management in London, UK.