When I was younger I wanted to be an artist, a graphic designer, an interior designer, a writer…can you see a creative pattern emerging? I wanted to work in an environment where I could make things and inspire other people. I had dreams. Big dreams. And I worked my arse off to achieve them. So, although I’m not claiming to be some kind of career advisor, I feel I’ve got enough experience to tell you what I did to achieve my dream job. Anyway, I’ve put together ten pieces of advice which have helped me along the way – and I’m hoping might inspire you too.
Discover Your Passion
If you’re stuck in a dead end job, counting the hours, wishing you could be somewhere else, doing anything else but this, then you’re wasting precious time. Life is too short to be stuck in a job which you hate. Sit down and write down what you love, what your strengths are and what you would be doing if money/child care/transport etc wasn’t an issue. Imagine it was just you, with no responsibilities or worries. What would you love to do? Would you love to start your own business? Would you love to open your bakery? Do you dream of putting your name to a range of your tasty homemade jams and chutneys? It can be anything at all, just put pen to paper.
If your passion lies in photography, and you dream of being the next Mario Testino, then start small and look for a night class locally where you can hone your skills. I’m not saying don’t aim high, but the reality is, you won’t be shooting for a Vogue just yet, but you could be assisting on a shoot at a photography studio near by. Start small and see how you could grow. I started my career working for a small company, and in five years I’ve moved from assistant, to deputy editor, to acting editor to running my own magazine as editor. If I’d moved to a big name fashion magazine, I’d still be stuck in the sample cupboard now. Starting small gives you the space to shine and prove yourself, trust me. It’s about taking baby steps, growing along the way and realising that although this isn’t going to happen overnight, it will be sooooo worth it when Sunday night blues are a thing of the past.
Put Yourself Forward
Ever since I was a magazine intern in London, I’ve had a passion for styling, but I put that to the back of my mind as my heart was in my day-to-day job of writing. When I noticed the photoshoots we were outsourcing at work were looking a little lackluster, I decided to ask my boss if I could help with the styling. They agreed and I went from looking on from the sidelines, to creating a concept, choosing the models, styling and deciding the final magazine spread. That was a year ago and even though every time is just as nerve wracking as the last and it’s a huge amount hard work, the end result makes it all worth it. I’ve done thirteen shoots so far and I’m learning new things and making mistakes along the way. If I hadn’t pushed myself forward, then I’d still be here now, dreaming about one day maybe becoming a stylist.
Go That Extra Mile
Although it’s a cliche thing to say, I’m a firm believer in going that extra mile. Competition is fierce, especially in the creative industry, so if you want to stand out against others then you need to go that little bit further. You need more than just a shit hot CV. You need an online presence, you need a killer portfolio, you need on the job experience. It’s really hard work, but if you want the job of your dreams you’re going to have to work your arse off for it. Here’s an example of going that extra mile. When I was interning, one of the stylists on a shoot I was helping out on forgot some jewellery she needed. I offered to go back to the office on the other side of London, pick it up and bring it back – I went that extra mile by bringing some alternative options which I thought might work as well. She ended up going with my idea in the end which, at 21, felt like a huge achievement. Bringing me swiftly to my next point…
Have an Opinion
Don’t be scared to have an opinion. When I first started out in this industry, I wasn’t very confident. I’d have ideas in my head, but I would be scared to say them out loud in case people thought I was stupid. Except someone else would have the same idea , share it with the group and get the credit for it. Even if your idea isn’t what people are looking for, it shows you’re on the ball. There’s a difference, however, between having a valid opinion and being argumentative. If your opinion is constructive then go ahead, but if it’s a personal view then keep that to yourself. I’ve worked with overtly opinionated people in my time, and to be honest, they annoy the crap out of me.
Forget Making Money
When you’re in something purely for the money, then it’s a really unhealthy state of mind. Your desperation rubs off and subconsciously people can sense this. When you’re passionate about something and you’re doing it because you love it, the money will be a second thought. I’ve blogged for nearly seven years and I do it because I love it. Any money that comes my way is a bonus. I’d still blog everyday if I was getting nadda. And trust me, if you’re doing something you love, the money will turn up – it’s a funny old world but that how it seems to turn out for me anyway. An oppotunity will arise when you least it expect it, and probably just before your phone bill needs paying.
Continue to Learn
I don’t think you should ever stop learning. And I’m not talking about taking your GCSE’s again. I mean, read every day, watch Youtube tutorials of how to do something, sign up to a night class. Don’t let your mind go stale. If your dream job is to be a makeup artist for West End musicals, then teach yourself how to do stage makeup from online videos. Or even see if the local hair and beauty college has a course you can sign up to. You might not be working in the West End straight away, but after college you could volunteer as an assistant in your local armature dramatics society, before moving on to the theatre in your local town.
The Art of Self Promotion
I’m a huge advocate of self promotion. I’m not a show off, but if I’ve won an award, or an interview with me pops up online, then I’m going to shout about it. I’ll tell people exactly what I’ve been doing, because if I don’t shout about me, then who else will. Plus, so many opportunities can come from shouting about your skills on social media. After showcasing the shoots I’ve styled on Facebook for example, I’ve had a little freelance work come my way, and approaching my current job with my CV and being confident enough to push myself forward for promotions has meant I’m in the position I’m in now. Shout about your achievements – no matter how big or small. Genuine friends and family will be happy to hear how well you’re doing. And it will lead to other things, trust me.
Believe in Yourself
When it comes to my own skills, I can sometimes lack confidence. I can think I’ve done a really good job but I’m still scared of what others will think and always feel quite surprised when the reaction to my work is a positive one. But if you’re not confident in your own skills, then how can you expect others to be confident in hiring you. I’m a “fake-it-till-you-make-it”girl, pushing positive thoughts into the atmosphere, hoping they’ll bring positivity back to me. If you have the belief you can do something, then that alone will push you towards your dream.
Never Give Up
The final and most important point. When you’re trying to achieve your dream, whether it be working with children, or starting your own cleaning business, DO NOT GIVE UP. It took me nearly two years of working for free, interning and writing in my spare time, whilst holding down two paying jobs after university before I even got close to doing the job I love. And even then I was starting at the very bottom. But drive and determination meant I never gave up on following my dreams. I knew I wanted to become an editor before I was 30 and that’s what I set out to achieve. I set myself mini milestones along the way, but I had the end goal in sight. It hasn’t been easy, and I think Lady Luck has a certain part to play, but your dreams are not going to come to you whilst you lay on the sofa watching Netflix. Get out there and chase them. Make shit happen.