Nurturing Confidence and Creating Change: Inside the Women@Dior Program

by Aug 28, 2023

Women@Dior is a global mentoring and educational program run by Dior in partnership with UNESCO. The program connects female-identifying university students with professional mentors at Dior, encouraging them to build their confidence and skills as they step into their careers. We recently spoke to UTS students Anna Xu and Yashica Moodley, who are a part of the 2023 intake of the program. From seeking to change career direction to building confidence and breaking down imposter syndrome, this interview will delve into Anna and Yashica’s experience with the program so far.


When we first approached Anna and Yashica about doing this interview, they were both incredibly keen to share their experiences. While their stories and degrees may differ, they both admitted their love for fashion and excitement at the chance to participate in the program.

Yashica Moodley, who is studying a Bachelor of Business and a Bachelor of Creative Intelligence and Innovation at UTS, shared how the Women@Dior program gave her a chance to step into the fashion industry – an area that she has always been passionate about. After working in marketing across different sectors, she was ready for a change. She saw an announcement about the Women@Dior program on the UTS Canvas site the day before leaving to attend Melbourne Fashion Week. Hoping to try to fuse her love of fashion with her experience in marketing, she submitted her application (spoiler alert: she was accepted).

Meanwhile, Anna Xu had just returned from her foreign exchange time in Korea. Studying design in Visual Communication and International Studies at UTS, Anna was readjusting to Sydney life and was looking for job opportunities and internships when she stumbled across the Women@Dior program on UTS CareerHub. After applying, she forgot about it until she got a call from Dior HR a few weeks later. After a not-quite-hour-long phone interview, and a week or so of waiting, she got the news: she was in.

Melbourne, imposter syndrome and building confidence

view out a plane window

Being flown to Melbourne is one of the highlights of the Women@Dior program.

After being selected for the program, Anna and Yashica were flown to Melbourne for an exciting launch event in February. There, they were introduced to the other students in the program and their new mentors and given a rundown of how the whole experience would look over the next year.

From the beautiful QT Hotel that they stayed at to a tour through the Collins St Boutique (one of the Dior Flagships in Australia), Anna and Yashica shared how exciting the trip was and how inspired they were to meet each other and the other students. Anna also spoke about how, during the trip, she kept feeling a sense of disbelief.

The two spoke about how they had been impacted by impostor syndrome and how their relationships to their mentors helped them build confidence. Anna recalled how she had voiced her disbelief to her mentor while they were in Melbourne.

“(My mentor) gave me some words of advice that have stayed with me. She asked me to think about my intention. What was my intention when I applied, and what was my intention in being there? Thinking about that was really grounding. I needed to think about how I chose to be there. I didn’t just happen to be there.”
– Anna Xu

Imposter syndrome is not uncommon in particularly women in the workplace. In a study by KPMG in 2020, over 75% of women in executive roles reported experiencing imposter syndrome at various points throughout their careers. Shaped by the pressures of a historically patriarchal society, often traditionally male-dominated industries, and with little female representation in leadership roles, women are more likely to experience higher rates of self-doubt and fear of failure in the workforce. But, as psychologist Richard Orbe-Austin wrote in an article with the BBC, talking about imposter syndrome helps to deal with it.

Yashica spoke about how the Women@Dior Program hopes to break that cycle, if in a small way.

“I think a big part of the intention of the intention behind the Dior program is not so much only just encouraging women who have a promising future in fashion, but the biggest part of it is actually about building confidence for women in the workplace.”
– Yashica Moodley

One of the ways in which the program does this is by fostering encouraging mentoring relationships between students and experienced professionals.

Personal growth and mentorship

picture of many women standing together in front of DIOR sign

All Australian mentees and mentors in the Women@Dior program this year.

Mentoring relationships can help mentees gain greater confidence and knowledge about their industry, while also developing themselves holistically. Both Anna and Yashica spoke about the value of their mentors to their personal growth, sharing sentiments about how the experience was about more than just professional development. Rather than just checking in about work, their mentors were focused on a more holistic view of career growth tied directly to a sense of self and looking to the future.

“(My mentor) has more of a holistic mentality rather than strictly professional. It’s really nice to be able to confide and be able to reach out to her because she has some really interesting experience and career progression. She can speak on, not just professional development, but also self-development outside of work, because they feed into each other.”
– Anna Xu

Getting a mentor doesn’t have to be complicated, nor does it require a structured program (although they definitely help). Starting a mentoring relationship is as simple as reaching out and asking for that first meeting. A short message on LinkedIn or by email, asking a few questions about their career or what they’d recommend to students looking to get into the industry, can spark a conversation and may lead to a mentoring relationship. UTS students can also access the Professional Mentoring Platform, a low-commitment, accessible platform for students to connect with industry. Reaching out to UTS alumni who work in your desired industry via LinkedIn can also be an effective pathway to finding a mentor.

Having someone to bounce ideas off, especially someone who is familiar with the industry, can make a huge difference to your career. Mentors can also help you to build your network and unlock the hidden job market.

The hidden job market

The hidden job market refers to how organisations often recruit through talent-acquisition-related means, by filling roles with candidates they are already aware of, or through recommendations. We recently did an in-depth blog post on it, but in short, it’s not necessarily about what you know but who you know. So, it’s essential to start building your network alongside your resume.

For Yashica, the Women@Dior program contributed to her landing a winter marketing internship with Dior this year. Needing to complete an internship as part of her degree, one of her first thoughts, given her experience with the program, was to reach out to the talent acquisition manager and ask if there were any opportunities. Through that enquiry, Yashica found out about the marketing internship, applied, and successfully landed the role.

“It’s been really nice to complement my Women@Dior experience, and my learning, with actualising it in a real-life work setting. (…) It’s quite exciting to have that network.”
– Yashica Moodley

While the future is still uncertain for Anna, the program has opened up a new level of confidence, reaffirming her place in the industry. She also spoke about how it has encouraged her to scale up her jewellery business and to make new partnerships.

“I’m still trying to figure out my career path, but it’s definitely given me a lot of courage to go for opportunities. I think after I undertook this opportunity I realised that there’s actually so much out there for me to do. But I just need to really go for it.”
– Anna Xu

Silver rings on someone's hand

The program has given Anna the confidence to build connections in her own business.

Reflecting back and looking forward

To finish off our interview, we asked the girls two questions.

If you could talk to their first-year self, what would you tell them?

Anna emphasised the need to not worry so much about your career in that first year but instead concentrate on adjusting to university and breaking away from high school thinking. Not just “focusing on your career path at that moment, [but really trying to] learn and reframe thinking.” She also spoke about the importance of taking on board feedback, continuously evolving and not limiting yourself to doing what has already been done.

“Really take feedback to heart and always strive to improve on whatever you’re working on. Incorporate different perspectives into your work as well. And never stop being inspired.”
– Anna Xu

Yashica talked about how she would tell herself to not wait so long to follow a career in fashion.

“Growing up, whenever I was asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, my answer was always fashion related. And, when I got to uni, I went no, I’m not going to do that, because it’s not realistic. (…) Then, I think I’ve got to my 4th year, and I realised that I actually should have just listened to the dream that I had as a kid, and started to pursue that earlier. But, that it’s never too late to start.”
– Yashica Moodley

8-10 year old child wearing glasses at beach

Yashica showing off her love of fashion as a child.

Whatever your degree or current career path, it’s never too late to move in a different direction. Take onboard what you have learnt so far, seek connections with mentors and reach out across your network. Mainly: don’t be afraid to do something new.

This leads to our final question.

What excites you about the future of your career?

Anna spoke about inspiration and change and how quickly fields and industries could shift and change. She talked about the joy of continuously learning and connecting to the world. But most of all, she spoke with a sense of gratitude for the confidence to explore.

“I’m really lucky with where I’ve chosen now. And there’s a lot of opportunities to come. And there are a lot of different pathways. And so, I have the luxury of taking a step back and think about which path I actually want to choose. I feel the world is my oyster.”
– Anna Xu

While there were threads of similarity in Yashica’s answer, she also mentioned how she was looking forward to exploring sustainability within the fashion industry. She acknowledged the almost conflicting values between ethical and luxury clothing. But, rather than being discouraged, she was excited to see how the space would continue to evolve and start to make a positive impact. She also spoke about how the past few months have shown her that everything can change with a little determination.

“I mean I’m just still a little shocked, thinking about how Melbourne Fashion Week was in March, and I was not working in fashion at all. And I was I really wanted to be. Now, fast forward not even six months later, and I’m in the Women@Dior program, and working in the industry. (…) I’m very excited about how, by putting your mind and your intention towards something, things can happen very quickly.”
– Yashica Moodley


Anna and Yashica’s experience clearly showcase how connecting with a mentor and taking part in programs like Women @ Dior can have a hugely positive impact on your career outlook. For them, they not only were able to step out of their comfort zones, but their confidence has also grown, Likewise, they’ve managed to expand their networks, develop their professional reputations, and be able to follow their interests into careers that clearly excite them. If you’re considering a career change, finding a mentor, or applying to a program like Dior’s, this is your sign to do so.

 “Things can change very fast and, sometimes, you can surprise yourself.”
– Yashica Moodley

Amelia Bussing

Amelia Bussing

Communications Assistant

Amelia is a Sydney-based writing and communications enthusiast working at UTS Careers as a Communications Assistant. She is UTS Alumni who studied a Bachelor of Communications (Creative Writing & Advertising), and a Bachelor of Creative Intelligence and Innovation. She is passionate about creativity, storytelling, and the art of a well-timed gif, and has a vast collection of crazy socks.

Anna Xu

Anna Xu

UTS Student, Women@Dior mentee

Yashica Moodley

Yashica Moodley

UTS Student, Women@Dior mentee