So these past few weeks some big things have happened in my life! I’ve got my first job that feels like a positive step in my career as Awards Assistant for Cosmopolitan’s Ultimate Women of the Year Awards this December. Alongside this, I’ve been able to move out and get my first flat, a beautiful place in Streatham (with two double wardrobes and ensuite: living the dream.)
After nearly two years out of uni, I finally feel like I’m where I need to be but it hasn’t been an easy journey whatsoever (understatement of the decade). So I thought I’d give an insight into how I got my dream job at a magazine as I’m always nosey about other people’s path and because whilst some of it was luck, a lot of it was anxiety attacks and bloody hard grafting.
Seeing as you’re reading this, you may be aware that I have a blog. That hands down has got me a lot of places. It shows a three-year commitment to writing, marketing, coding, PR, photography, general web skills and basically a passion (hate that word) for what you love doing. So straight away, this has helped no doubt and you will get as much out of it as you put in (i.e. posting every couple of months not being much good).
2. Closer Magazine + Brighton Fashion Week
The start of my career progression is going back two years to my final year of university, the day after my grad ball. Instead of nursing a hangover like my housemates, I headed to London for a week editorial internship at Closer, followed by a week covering Brighton Fashion Week. Whilst chaotic and frantically hitting up friends for a place to crash, I’d actually been writing for BFW during my final year so ended up being invited to their annual show. Both of these boosted my CV, writing skills and knowledge of the industry, and also meant I had connections that would come in handy later.
3. Customer Service
The following year not as much happened as I spent a year doing temp work to save and travelling. However the job was customer service at Aurora Fashions which handles brands such as Warehouse and Oasis so I still learnt skills like brand management, dealing with PR and other office skills whilst mainly saving a ridiculous amount to put behind me for interning. I was even given tasks above my pay grade such as managing a brand called Wishbone and transitioning Karen Millen to the US. All skills which big you up, bro.
4. Social Media and Marketing intern at THE WHITEPEPPER
2015 was when it started to accelerate. Having just returned from travelling, come January I was the Social Media and Marketing intern at THE WHITEPEPPER, a quirky fashion brand who retailed at ASOS and Topshop. It was three months (expenses paid) based in Hackney and I helped with their social media, sat in at meetings, assisted on photo shoots, ran errands around London, wrote blog posts and worked with the team during the AW15 Press event. I learnt a ridiculous amount there as a small team meant you did anything and everything and met some amazing people, so this was monumental in starting off the skillz.
5. Features intern at GoThinkBig
From this came my time as a Features Intern at GoThinkBig straight after. The media recruitment agency who I’d used for years were kind enough to speak to me about all of their roles from the finances to photo editing spending hours with me and my many many questions. And what with writing features for the site, researching future topics regarding politics and graduates whilst attending media events, it built my repertoire of skills and network.
6. Web intern at Cosmopolitan
I said to myself that it was time for a real job and no more internships after four months of unpaid work. Until I saw a last minute tweet from Sophie at Cosmo needing a Web Intern for the following day. I sent my CV and blog across and I was in the next day! And one of the girls Jenni even told me, having done BFW, she was interested as her best friend was in charge of the blog, so you never know where your previous connections will get you. The two weeks I was there, less than the usual intern of a whole month, were obviously the best two weeks of my life; being in the office of one of my dream magazines, writing for the site, doing case studies, and meeting the team who were some of the kindest people I’ve met (whoever says journalists are bitchy is completely wrong) and I was genuinely gutted to leave. And it just goes to show how being active on social media can get you so, so far as I wouldn’t have got this if I wasn’t on Twitter at 11am that day.
7. Web intern at Women’s Health
However, I then wangled a Web Internship with Women’s Health, another amazing magazine with more amazingly kind women and on the floor one up from Cosmopolitan. Again I learnt different ways of researching articles, pitching ideas, learning to use their CMS system and general admin work of fixing articles and packing goody bags (and even being given some of the bits inside it; intern perks!)
I had a few weeks to myself as it had been a long six months, with four different internships, and jetted off for a week in Corfu to chill out.
8. Awards Assistant at Cosmopolitan
But whilst at Cosmopolitan, I’d heard about them needing an Awards Assistant with their Ultimate Women of the Year award. So after juice meet ups, frantically sending my CV from the pool and a few interviews, I got the job!
It’s been a mental few months which has involved rinsing my savings, crashing on my sister’s floor, anxiety issues and generally running around like a headless chicken. And whilst it’s only a six-month contract, I still can’t quite believe that I actually made it despite being told so many times that the industry was impossible, I’d need a backup in case it didn’t pan out, etc etc.
I’ve learnt a ridiculous amount along the way, so these are some things I thought I’d share and can help you make that leap.
DO ANYTHING FOR ANYONE
- If they want you to make tea or run out and get plasters, just do it with a smile. If you’d do it for a friend who was super busy, why not a colleague? Nothing is beneath you so don’t be stuck up or you’ll be remembered as that awful intern. And having covered social media, marketing, features and web, apply for every kind of job and internship as all the key skills will boost your CV no end and you may end up changing your mind into what career you want to go into.
EVERYONE IS NICE REALLY
- If you’re smiley and kind, nine times out of ten they will be back. It can be hard if you’re a shy person (something I’ve luckily never been, being a bit of a bolshy cow) but the more you put in, the more you get out. And I know that most of my jobs I got not only because of experience, but because I made the effort to chat and get on with people. They’re people really!
BE PROACTIVE AND PRE-EMPTIVE
- Don’t wait for them to ask you to do something. Send out that email in the afternoon asking if anyone needs a hand with anything. Do some extra research if people are super busy. Make that tea round before they ask. It makes you look less like an intern and more of a real worker. Constantly harassing them for work can make you look like you need someone to hold your hand, so pre-empt what they may need of you.
MAKE YOURSELF INDISPENSABLE
- If you’re the best intern ever, who wouldn’t want to hire you? Like I said before, always do everything and anything, like creating articles they may want or doing something for everyone on the team. Make it so that when you leave, they notice and realise how much work you did for them.
ALWAYS BE LOOKING AHEAD
- It’s hard when you know your internship is only a month, but be looking ahead for the next internship or opportunity, to prevent gaps in your CV. I did four different internships back to back, which was hard but look much better than a few weeks every couple of months, because you couldn’t be bothered.
LEARN TO LIKE COFFEE
- You’re going to be tired. You’ll need it. And liking a hot drink is a great way to be part of the tea round.
ALWAYS BE DOING SOMETHING
- It’s hard when sometimes they don’t give you any tasks, or you’ve done everything. But you can never do too much research or tidying up, or even just writing practice articles which they may want to use. If not, at least it’s blog material!
SAVE A SHIT TON
- It sucks but you’ll need it. I ended up having £6,000 from my previous job and that was pretty much all used up. Yet worth it, as I couldn’t have done everything I did without money behind me, as we all know expenses only go so far.
LOVE THE JOB
- Yes, the lifestyle and office freebies are great but if you don’t absolutely love what you do, it will show and you won’t be able to keep up if you hate it. And no amount of Bobbi Brown and Essie will matter. If you’re not pinching yourself daily that you’re actually in the Cosmo offices, then you don’t love it and the pay and stress of the job just won’t be worth it for you.
- After my first two internships, nothing came up for nearly a year. I was disheartened but I then worked to get money behind me, kept writing my blog and stayed focused, ready to try again. It doesn’t come easily but when it does, it’s so rewarding.
It’s a long old post but then again, it’s been a long old journey and I hope it’s helped any budding writers/marketers/PR assistants. Feel free to comment with any questions and good luck!