Monday, 29 January 2018

My Career Journey: Where I'm Beginning and Where I Want To Go

PHOTOGRAPHY: LILY BARBER 
Hello you lovely lot! Today's post is a hefty one, so if you're here for the long haul then grab yourself a cuppa and prepare for a whole lotta' career chats! Discussing my placement year, degree and career path in general are always v highly requested topics for my blog when I have asked for suggestions in the past, so I thought today I would provide a 360° view of where I'm at and where I hope to go- enjoy gang! 

When I use or hear the word 'career', it often brings to mind grown up and #Boss like qualities, which is 100% the attitude I'm trying to channel myself in 2018. Despite only being at the very beginning of my career journey, I often think about the future (like the little worrier I am) and if I'm on the right track, or doing all that I can to get to where I want to be. Now in January 2018, I have been interning in London for 10 months and have a whole breadth of experiences under my belt (*phew*) that have already taught me so much about the fashion and beauty industries and the aspects of my degree I know I now love from a ~real life~ perspective. For any newbies around here (welcome!), I study Fashion Communication and Promotion- a varied degree focusing on marketing, PR, styling, journalism, trend, events planning and branding, and as a result there are a whole multitude of areas I could pursue if I so wished. Having completed four internships and made a start on a ~sort of~ plan for the future, I thought I would share how my passions have been translated into industry roles, and my hopes and aspirations for the future. Careers and graduating into the big wide world is a v scary prospect, so I hope this post provides an interesting and insightful look to this world, whilst also reassuring myself that I'm in actual fact, doing okay!



I began my placement year in the world of magazines, interning for Marie Claire in their fashion cupboard and immersing myself in my first, real life experience into the world of fashion styling. With such a passion for personal style and blogging, but also having loved the experience of photoshoots as part of my degree, I was adamant that styling was an area I wished to pursue post graduation in the hopes of really channelling my creativity and becoming a part of the buzz of a photoshoot full-time. Naively, I didn't think in great detail about the vast amount of preparation that comes along with the role of a stylist, and how having industry knowledge of designers, PR agencies and ultimately, a whole host of contacts in this world are your styling best friends. My time at Marie Claire involved calling in pieces from a long list of designers and agencies, as well as organising and facilitating all of the sample cupboard returns from the many shoots that happen within the publication. It was a quick, yet somewhat disappointing awakening for me to realise that the primary role of a stylist involves a whole lotta emailing and a whole lotta returning. Of course I'm willing to put the effort into making the ~bigger picture~ come to life in a role, however I realised quite early on that it was a more consistently creative role that I was really seeking in the future. My affinity for high street brands and relatively small knowledge of designer labels meant I felt somewhat unequipped for a role that is hugely reliant on possessing vast industry understanding. As an intern, I think I put a lot of pressure on myself to learn all of this information at once to prepare myself for what I had pinned my hopes on turning into my career, however as my journey progressed through different roles, I realised that styling in a professional capacity maybe just wasn't for me (and to accept that this realisation was okay!). 

Another aspect of my degree and the industry as a whole that has fascinated me, and which I was so certain I wanted to pursue, was the world of PR. I've always been a lover of influencers and blogging, and therefore PR seemed to be the perfect career path to bridge my love for social media and the visual element of print media that I still desperately wanted to be a part of in some context. To try and make this happen, I secured a role within the press office of a successful UK womenswear brand and began my three month journey in another internship role. My time there showcased to me the opposite of my experience at Marie Claire, as I was able to take the role of sending out samples and preparing these deliveries, providing me with a clearer insight into the processes that happen within this sphere of the fashun world. Despite this placement allowing me to experience a little more creativity when occasionally a client would send an open brief, allowing me to select garments from our sample cupboard based upon how I felt they would work for the shoot, on the whole the structure was extremely same-y and I again began to feel stifled by the lack of freedom I had to share my own independent ideas. I'm forever grateful for this placement and the experiences it created for me, including becoming fully involved in the planning of our London Fashion Week show, selecting and sending out garments to dress the VIP attendees and generally become involved in this hugely exciting part of the industry, but still, something didn't feel quite right. 



As my three month PR role came to an end, I was left feeling despondent (and down right nervy) about the route I planned to take to eventually find a career that I was 100% excited and passionate about. As many of you will now know, this is when the opportunity of Social and Content Intern at Birchbox UK came my way and having applied within an hour of seeing the ad, I was contacted the next morning about the possibility of engaging in a telephone interview. Following this and an IRL interview with the Birchbox Babes (unofficial name that I have just coined and hope to now use forever more), I was offered a 6 month position with them and genuinely ran around the house squealing with glee when I heard this news. Not only was the role my actual DREAM, it was also paid, meaning the past 4 months of unpaid placements, dwindling funds and mounting resentment at the internship system came to an END. Now 4 months into the role, I basically never want to leave. My job involves running the Birchbox Twitter account, writing all copy for new product launches on our E-Shop, recording social post analytics to feedback to brands, compiling a weekly competitor report, writing posts for the BB blog, putting together informative and engaging Instagram Stories and brainstorming ideas and content with the wider team in weekly meetings and there's honestly not one part of it that I don't love! I don't know why it took me so long to realise that my passion for running my own blog and social channels could actually translate into a career in which I could do this for an international company, and it feels so exciting to be a part of this and channel my passion into a business I have such genuine belief in. I feel so fortunate that I was able to find a role that I love so early on in my career, because despite only having completed a couple of internships prior to this, I had actually applied for countless roles in other areas, such as buying, which just didn't feel quite right. Although I am due to leave Birchbox at the end of May before one last student summer before my final year at University, I still feel so overjoyed to be part of something so inspiring and work with an incredible group of kick-ass women on a daily basis. Here's to *hopefully* an exciting future in the world of social media which I simply LURVE. 

And then a look to the future. At just 20 years old, it feels odd to plan a structure for my life so far in advance, but being the worrier I am, I simply can't help but think about where I'll end up and how I plan to get there. The career path and sphere I’m currently starting out in is an area I simply adore. I cannot imagine having found a more fitting industry for my personality, passions and hopes, and it’s so exciting to see where this will take me, but having said that, I cannot help feeling a slight niggle that the social media, content and fashion worlds are almost entirely London centric. I remember feeling so excited at the prospect of moving to the ~Big Smoke~ last May as I began my placement year, and whilst it has been truly an amazing experience, I do wonder whether London is for me in the long, long term. I love its vibrancy and its progressive stance on so many issues. I love feeling like I’m in THE place to be when news breaks or government changes are made. London is a wonderful place to say you’re truly ‘part of things’, but what comes along with that is a sense of isolation and lack of community that I’ve never experienced in the same way. There’s so much happening, but at the same time nothing at all. It’s almost overwhelming to break into the London world and find where you belong, and in all honesty that’s something I really struggle with. In terms of my career, I try and think about the future in regard to my age and where I want to be at that point in my life. By the age of 30, I’d love to be married and possibly have (or be planning) children, and I worry that London is not the place I want to do these things in. I want my children to be brought up in an environment similar to myself- in a place where you don’t really have to worry about going out at night by yourself, or where you know the local hairdressers, vicar and landlords. Call me old fashioned, but I just don’t know if I see myself in London forever. As a result, I’ve often thought about where my career could progress to that would allow me to move away from the capital and live a life in which I feel is more ‘me’. I have always been passionate about charity work and wishing to help those less fortunate than myself, so perhaps after the age of 30, I would love to pursue a role in this sphere (this could still involve my beloved social media!) or become part of an organisation that really makes a difference to people’s lives. As well as this, I'm also a, slightly strangely, big fan of weddings and all the excitement and love that surrounds them. I'm utterly obsessed with watching Say Yes To The Dress and pinning hundreds of wedding related imagery to my Pinterest board, so perhaps a career in the world of wedding planning could also be an option for me. As well as this, I'm hugely interested and passionate about animal rights. As a a vegetarian of two years, I feel so strongly about my activism and protecting the rights and lives of animals of every variety. Again, this is another of my passions that I simply don't want to rule out for the future, and in all honesty, who knows where it will take me! Having been blogging for 5+ years now, going freelance with my social channels would also be a dream come true and something I hope to work towards more over the summer once I have completed my placement year. As you can see, I'm a hugely passionate person with a lot of ideas and hopes, so you can now maybe begin to understand why the idea of a career in just one field terrifies me a little! 


ORANGE FAUX FUR TRIM DENIM JACKET / DENIM SKIRT (similar) / RED BOOTS (similar):  or ASOS / YOU GO GIRL PIN FISHNET TIGHTS 

It’s hard to predict how I’ll feel or where my life will take me over the next 10 years, but as a sufferer of anxiety I almost can’t help but worry about it. I feel that life is too short to restrict myself to one role, and whilst I’m sure my career will most likely progress in its nature as I do in my own, more personal journey, it’s comforting for me to know that I can change, adapt and grow as much or as little as I would like. Brighton has always been a place I’ve totally adored, and I’m definitely hopeful that my journey will take me there one day! Watch this space. 

If you've made it this far then in all honesty you most likely deserve a medal! I've been rambling on and on for quite a while now, but it feels so great to get all of these thoughts, worries, hopes and dreams down onto a page and out of my v confused and muddled brain. I find careers to be such a genuinely interesting and personal topic, so I do so hope you've enjoyed this post and it's provided some insight into my life- past, present and future! Lots of love, gang! <3

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