Recently, I went for a social media related job I thought I was perfect for. Being a blogger – and part of a generation obsessed with social media – it’s safe to say I live and breathe what this role entails. I’m always brainstorming and researching new ideas to get my blog content out there and if I’m up to anything remotely cool or interesting, you can bet I’m talking about it on Facebook. But – and this is seemingly a big but – I work in retail.

Formidable Joy | UK Lifestyle Blog | Career | Blogging | CV | Creative Industry | Is it really bad to have career gaps on your CV?

For a long time now, I’ve been trying to break into the industry of journalism or at least get a job somewhat related to my degree. I’ll admit – there are some times I try harder than others. There are also some times where I’ve been happy going with the flow – my role at H&M Luton was one of those times. I’d only planned to stay there until I found another job, but being my first proper full time job, I enjoyed being on a somewhat decent wage and loved my colleagues so I found myself staying for around two years, not really focusing on any long term career prospects.

Now that I’m full on job hunting again though, I’ve noticed one thing. My CV is very varied. I have lots of experience but when you really look closer at the experience which is made up of internships, freelance roles and contributing roles, it’s hard to say whether it’s real experience or not. In between this experience has been the jobs where I’ve earned money – in retail, in admin and one extremely fun but brief season of being a scare technician!

This is why I was a little disheartened during a job interview lately to be told what I thought was five years of experience actually really adds up to around two years – which I totally get, of course, because essentially, I’ve only really worked and been paid for working in an editorial role for one year altogether.

I never saw this as much of an issue, despite my sister telling me so. Trying to break into such a tough industry like journalism (or any creative industry really) is super hard and these days not only do you need to really stand out, you most definitely need the experience (as there’s always someone with just that bit more experience than you) and often you need to know the right people too.

So where I saw my CV as trying my best but still being motivated – I work in retail because I still need to earn money and during this time I am constantly getting other experience like blogging for Metro or helping out with Invicta Magazine’s social media), I’ve realized that potential employee’s see it as a little worrying.

Why haven’t I broken into the industry yet? Why do I flit from promising internships to basic wage retail jobs? Wouldn’t it have been better for me to take on internship after internship instead of internship-retail role-internship?

And don’t even get me started on travelling. On one hand, I believe that travel and life experience is essential for creative roles, especially if you want someone who thinks outside of the box. But what if you’ve spent years travelling and arrive home without any actual industry experience and find yourself unable to find a job?

It’s extremely hard to find that balance between getting as much experience under your belt and, well, actually earning money. I will take any job to keep my head above water – I am not a snob when it comes to jobs that may pay less or may require less challenging work than what I do now. I see it as hardworking to sometimes choose a secure job over a ‘maybe’ internship that will give you experience. It’s entirely true that sometimes you should take a chance on a maybe if it’s really what you want to do. But it’s also important to think long term and logistically – if you cannot afford to live on a non-existent internship wage, then choosing a secure job where you can earn money may be the right answer.

Now that I’m nearing 30 years old, it’s time for me to find a career choice and not just a job. But looking over my CV and seeing what once looked like someone with lots of varied experience who is willing to try anything once now looks like someone who realistically cannot catch a break to break into that industry.

So, how do we fix this? It’s the age old debate – internships provide a wealth of knowledge but even with too many internships and no actual career under your belt you can come across as unreliable – and now skint too.

In my opinion, the best thing for me – and others like me – to keep doing is to simply carry on with what we’re already doing. We may work in retail or admin instead of our dream jobs in London. But do we go home after our 9-5 shifts and switch off? No, we don’t. We blog. We share content. We research SEO. We teach ourselves code. We write for websites and publications for free because it gets our names out there. We job hunt. We photograph. We begin side hustles and look into new business ideas for a little extra cash. We network.

So although a quick look at our CV’s may look like we can’t get our dream job, if you look closer, you’ll see that we’re taking on anything we can to fund the careers we want. We earn money but we rarely ever switch off because we’re always doing something to further ourselves and better ourselves towards that end goal.

We just need to hope that sooner or later someone will take that chance on us.

What do you think? Do you think varied experience and CV gaps are really as bad as they seem? Or do you think it’s just our generation? Let me know!

Follow:

On my first day at my new job, I sat down at my own desk (my first ever own desk! Exciting!) and immediately tried to think of ways to make it my own. (Can you tell I’m really enjoying my job with all these work themed posts lately?!

It might sound stupid, but never having had my own desk before left me stumped in terms of what I thought I’d need on my desk. Obviously, I knew I needed the basic things like stationary, paper, notebooks etc but as I’ve become more and more settled into my new job, I’ve slowly began to add things to my little area to make it more personal.
These are, what I feel, the necessities to making a desk or work area really yours.

Inspire Magazine Online - UK Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle blog | Lifestyle | Desk Necessities; Inspire Magazine; Inspire Magazine Online; Desk Necessities
Week planners are always beneficial…
A PHOTOGRAPH OF FAMILY OR FRIENDS
Though I have yet to have a bad day, I know how important it is to have a nice photograph of those you love with you. Even when you’re having a tough day, it can remind you that they’re proud of you and you’re doing this job to make them proud, that in most cases when the day is over you can go home and see them.
RED BULL/ENERGY DRINK
Such a necessity for when I’m tired or need a boost in the afternoon to get me through the rest of the day. I have a cute little emergency four pack in one of my drawers, ready and waiting for when I need them. 
SNACKS
I try to keep healthy snacks in my desk like breakfast bars etc but it doesn’t hurt to have some chocolate or something cheeky like that hidden away for when you really need it. I’d also suggest things like tea bags and hot chocolate sachets for when those winter days really start rolling in…and, if you’re like me and you’re office is practically in the middle of nowhere and you can’t yet drive, a spare lunch or something you can microwave is probably useful too, like a pot noodle or something in case you ever forget your lunch like I almost did last week.
A PHONE CHARGER
Although I don’t condone using your phone at work, having a spare phone charger lying about is always really beneficial in case of an emergency, like if you break down on the way home from work. I understand you can’t predict this so would have to charge your phone in advance anyway, BUT, regardless of whether or not we think we’d need it, if our phone battery is running low and we have a charger to hand, we’ll all still charge it at work, amiright?
EMERGENCY MORNING AFTER THE NIGHT BEFORE KIT
Haha, just kidding. But I do have a little ’emergency’ kit which would probably contain the same things as a morning-after-the-night-before-kit. It’s just handbag stuff really – a body spray, chewing gum, hand/face wipes, dry shampoo etc. Just stuff that would come in useful in case I’ve had a stressful day and want to spruce up a bit, or I’m running late and don’t have time to style my hair at home etc. Also, actual sort-of emergency items are really beneficial here too, like pain killers or plasters.
HIGHLIGHTERS
Technically this counts as stationary, which comes as a given, but highlighters are always necessary. The brighter the better.
A BOOK
Just for those days where the thought of going out for lunch is just too much. The office is cosy and warm, it saves time walking to the fridge to get your lunch rather then driving out somewhere and the thought of kicking back with a sandwich, a cuppa and a good book (albeit at your desk) is sometimes just what you need.
FLATS/FLUFFY SOCKS
Depending on the feel of your workplace, you might be expected to wear smart shoes/heels. In my job, we sometimes have to go out and meet clients, so it’s useful to have a pair of comfortable flats back at my desk for when I return. I can’t ever imagine why I’d need fluffy socks but hey, what if one day it’s peeing down with rain and I’m in flat shoes and they get ruined running from the car to the office? BAM. An excuse to wear fluffy socks. Which brings me to….
AN UMBRELLA
Like your mum always said, you should always keep one to hand. ALWAYS.
So there you have it. Will I even use half this stuff or miss it if I didn’t have it? Probably not. But at least I know I’m prepared, my desk is fully stocked and that it looks damn pretty in the meantime…

Can you think of anything else I should have lying around in my desk – any must-have items? Let me know with a comment!

You can also find me on

Follow:

A lot of people shy away from the idea of work experience, thinking it’s only necessary to do for those two weeks in high school and not really realizing how beneficial it can be.  Work experience is, essentially, working for free, in some cases you have to cover your own travel costs and, if you’re already working, take time off from your main job. 
Despite this, work experience can be extremely helpful, especially if you’re trying to get into a business like media or journalism. I’ve found that most of the journalism related opportunities I’ve gained since graduating have mostly been down to my own experience rather then my degree. I know a lot of you blog readers hope for a career in media, so I’m hoping that this post applies to a lot of you. With media/journalism, it’s never strictly about having a degree and sometimes it’s never strictly about having experience either. Although you can break into the industry on just one of the two, both are equally just as important to the other which means that getting some work experience under your belt is so helpful to get your foot in the door in a career like this.
However, as stated before, obviously the ‘working for free’ part doesn’t really appeal to many people. Here’s some tips to why you should consider doing some work experience despite this factor anyway and how it will help you.

  • Any form of work experience will look great on your C.V, whether you spent the week getting features published or something as little as making tea for everyone. No matter what, the fact that you were willing to take time out of working and put some effort into furthering your experience will look really good on your C.V and any future employer will see that. Most especially, if you manage to bag work experience at a well known or really good company, this will also look great.
  • You’ll make some great contacts too, and if you make a good impression people will remember you. Even if it doesn’t lead onto a job, if you’ve made a good impression with the people you worked with then they will remember you and probably consider you for any other upcoming opportunities too. 
  • You’ll also get the chance to work and speak to these people and learn more about their roles in the company and the production of the company’s product (such as how a magazine is put together if you do experience with a magazine’s company etc) and no matter what, you’ll end up learning loads. There’s no doubt that you’ll finish your work experience having learned more about the career than you did in the first place.
  • You’ll have a chance to impress your boss or anyone else that works there the way other people won’t. If you apply for any jobs at a later date, they’ll already know the standard of your work and how well you fit in with their team so already you’ve got that extra positive that other people applying for the job won’t have.
  • Finally, you’ll have fun – there’s nothing better sitting in the offices of your dream job, trying out different roles in the company and meeting other people that work there.
There are many other benefits of work experience but that’s generally the gist of it – the idea that I’m trying to put across is that it’ll benefit YOU and not just the employer. So many people think work experience is just an excuse for a company to use someone for pointless errands – and sometimes you might find you do end up having work experience where you do little else – but even in cases like these, it’ll still benefit you a lot. You’ll also probably find that a lot of companies are so lovely to work with and will probably offer some money towards any travel costs and be quite flexible if they know you need to commute far.
So if you weren’t quite sure whether to go ahead with work experience, hopefully this post has changed your mind a bit! Over the next few weeks I’ll be posting about this a few more times with advice on how to find yourself work experience and how to act on work experience as well. There are so many people struggling to get their foot in the door right now and work experience is one of the few but extremely helpful methods for helping towards getting that dream job.



Follow:

On Saturday I attended my first ever The Only Way Is Blogging event, which is basically an event put together for all bloggers to meet, attend workshops on helpful subjects like how to improve your blog or how to make a career out of blogging and to just generally meet like minded people. It’s been going on for a couple of years now with hundreds of bloggers repeatedly attending.

I’d been planning to meet Bex and Lisa for a few months now, so when I found the details of the next TOWIB event, I decided to go and so did they. Tickets were only £5 and the event was being held in central London, so not only was it cheap and affordable, it was also easily accessible. The three of us arranged to go together and all our journeys were pretty much the same, we got the train into London and Lisa got on at the stop before me, whereas Bex got on a couple of stops after me.
Bex also got talking to Kirstie who was coming all the way from Leeds! As she was travelling alone, we invited her to come along with us and met her once we arrived in London. We arrived at the venue pretty early so decided to get a bit of breakfast in Pret A Manger. Within half an hour we were all having a laugh and it felt like we’d known each other for years.
The event was being held at Tiger Tiger, which was a weird place to hold a blogging event, but it was big and spacious and there were a lot of us! It was really nice and glam inside too. Once we got in we had a chat with some other bloggers and signed in, before grabbing a table.
Up first was a talk from Dr Linda Papadopoulos all about body confidence and the way women are perceived as so flawless in the media. I loved her talk, it was really inspiring and I thought it was quite refreshing to hear someone talk to passionately about those particular issues and trying to make a difference to change then.
She also told us a great story about a workshop she held once. On the first day, she blindfolded a group of people and told them herself and some other make up artists would be attaching realistic facial disfigurements to their faces, and then asked them to head outside and hand out leaflets, so she could see if it made any difference to the public. The group of people returned and noted that they’d found the experience horrible – the public had ignored them, not looked them into their eyes, walked in the opposite direction etc. The next day Dr Linda asked them to do the same thing, but this time she let them go out as they were – aka not attaching anything to their faces. Upon returning, the group’s attitude had completely changed. They’d claimed the public had been friendly and inviting, chatting to them and generally being the complete opposite than how they were the previous day.
It was then that Dr Linda revealed that on the first day, she hadn’t actually attached anything to their faces. The group had gone outside, looking as they always did and as they looked on the second day – only with the BELIEF that they had facial disfigurements. The group had let this thought affect the way they acted towards others – they’d acted shy and quiet and let what was on their face define them.
The story behind that experiment was generally the same message behind Dr Linda’s talk – by acting unconfident you are letting your issues define you, when in actual fact you don’t need to act like that. She explains that confidence comes from within and that we should accept ourselves as we are and learn to love what we are, instead of striving to become something we’re not. It was really interesting and inspiring, and the story she told us was fascinating.
After Dr Linda’s talk we had a couple of workshops – the first with Scott Cornwall which was about colouring your hair, and the second with amazing photographer Jai’me who gave us some tips about how to take good photos for your blog and how to take photographs a bit more professionally.
We then had a nice lunch with a few cheeky cocktails, before returning for another talk and then a couple of workshops. The talk was a Q&A session with some top bloggers and ladies that had gone on to create careers out of their blogs – again, this was quite inspiring and taught us how to start looking at our blogs more professionally rather then just as a hobby. Then we had a workshop with a lovely lady from KMI Brands who explained a bit more about advertising and the way it works. We got chatting and ended up actually staying there for the full hour, talking about the relationship between bloggers and companies and all sorts of blogging/media related things.
Image taken from Bex’s blog 
Finally, to end the day we had a more general Q&A session with some other ladies that had arranged the event, and generally this was just a humorous chat about blogging and social media.
I found the day extremely helpful – in all honestly I took different snippets and tips from the day and the workshops altogether, but I found the day to be more helpful to me in that I met other bloggers and managed to network a bit too. I found it more beneficial when I sat down in a small group and had an informal chat with one of the ladies, rather then the big Q&A sessions (although these were inspiring and helpful too). Altogether I thought it was just nice to meet like minded people because sometimes I do definitely feel like blogging is like a big online community – people can be so friendly and over time you do tend to think of some other regular bloggers as friends.
Afterwards we realized we were only around the corner from M&M world so had a little mooch in there – it was my idea even though I hate M&Ms. This was a bit of a laugh too, especially with the over enthusiastic worker who insisted on getting loads of photos with us!
I was exhausted by the time I got home! I’d got a few nice freebies, bought some gorgeous jewelry and ended up with LOADS of business cards. By the end of the day I felt so much more confident about blogging as a whole – it was kind of like by attending the event I’d established that I’ve been doing everything right and to just keep doing it really. It was very helpful and I’ll definitely be attending the next event. I’ve been thinking about my blog as more than just a blog for a while now and I’m definitely leaning more in the direction of blogging more professionally than as a hobby. Attending TOWIB gave me tips to do this and helped me confirm that I was on the right track, as well as introducing me to some lovely ladies and getting my blog a bit more known.

Follow:

Being a freelance journalist myself, I know first hand how hard it is to get your foot in the door in this area of business. Media, journalism and PR are all very hard jobs to get into and unfortunately good grades and a talent for writing doesn’t just do it these days. Experience is so unbelievably important ; but again, gaining experience is tough in its own. First of all, if you are unemployed, it’s hard to keep working for free as internships don’t always lead onto a full time position. Not all employers offer to pay for travel costs either. It can also be hard actually finding an internship to suit you ; these days internships are advertised in much different ways to how they used to be and often when you finally find out about them, the role might already be filled.

However, being an avid reader of her blog and in complete awe of all her experience, I decided to ask Jennifer Rosellen a bit more about her experience and how she’s managed to bag so many internships in the past. I know a lot of my readers are also interested in careers to do with fashion or beauty journalism, writing and PR too so I thought this might be useful! I sent her and email and she was more than happy to answer my questions and offer a bit of advice on how to get your foot in the door when it comes to internships.

You clearly have a lot of experience under your belt! Can you start by telling me how this has come about – from the very beginning? What inspired you to begin your blog?
I was bored in the summer holidays in my second year of University and was googling beauty products and stumbled across Lollipop26 on Youtube and watched her videos for about three hours! Then I found her blog and read that for hours. I decided then to start my own and that night I posted my first blog post which was a little ‘introduction’ to myself – very cringe worthy now but I had no idea what I was doing!My first opportunity for work experience came from Max Clifford who is a family friend and I spent 2 weeks at MCA. After that I realised I wanted to work in PR so I applied for everything and anything and was lucky enough to secure my Lancôme Internship. I went traveling and on my return secured an internship Babelfish PR as I had met the girls through my blog and kept in contact. After finishing at Babelfish I interned at More Magazine, which came about through being a member of the ‘More hot 100!’.

How long have you been a PR Assistant Account Executive (what a mouthful!) and what does the role entail?
I have been a PR assistant account exec for 3 months. It entails lots of admin such as keeping track of costs, logging all of the coverage of the product you are PRing, calling journalists to see what they are working on, arranging and undertaking press drops whereby you visit journalists to deliver products, sourcing items for press days and journalist gifts (e.g. cupcakes, prizes, alcohol, venues, goody bags), targeting influencers (celebrities, bloggers etc), writing press releases and lots and lots of replying to calls and emails!

Have you always wanted to be a PR Assistant Account Executive?
I’ve always wanted to be in PR yes. I would eventually like to move into beauty writing and social media full time as well as PR.

How did you manage to get your blog represented by Handpicked Media and how does this benefit you? Does it involve any extra work on your part?
You have to have a certain number of unique users per month before you can become a part of the handpicked media collective – it does not involve any more work 🙂

For readers who don’t know much about Handpicked Media can you just sum up what involvement they have with bloggers and how any bloggers can try and get represented by them too?
Handpicked Media represents some of the most popular blogs – I have only been represented by them for a week or so so I don’t have much insight yet!

What was your first internship and how did you find the opportunity?
At MCA and because Max was a family friend. The others I have found through twitter (Lancôme), networking and blogging (Babelfish) and blogging (More!)

Your blog lists the different internships you’ve had over the past few years – do you have any other experience that isn’t listed?
Nope! Just University and things I did there such as events organising (I was one of a team of four who organised the safer sex ball event at Exeter University)

Did you go to university and if so did you study a degree related to your current job role?
Exeter University – Psychology.

What do you think is more important – a degree or experience?
Difficult one. They both have their benefits. I think they are equally important and I would say that just because you have a degree in ‘X’ doesn’t mean you cannot pursue a career in ‘Y’ . I think having a degree will always be beneficial as employers react favorably to it, but you can always complete work experience and internships in the job sector you wish to pursue regardless of whether you have a related degree or a degree at all!

Can you tell me a little bit about the internships you’ve had so far. For example, what was the best/worst one? Did any of them lead onto any other opportunities?
They have all been helpful but I enjoyed being the only person in the Lancôme office for 2 days as that was a lot of responsibility and Babelfish also gave me a lot of responsibility, which was great. There is also a lot of boring stuff like sorting out the post and getting peoples tea and coffee – especially in magazines. That’s not quite as fun…!

You have a section on your blog where you list available internships – how do you find out about them all?
I follow everyone on twitter! Like everyone from every magazine possible! Plus gorkana jobs, diary directory and fashion monitor. If anyone ever RT’s or tweets an internship I make sure to favourite it.

How do you feel different internships have benefited you?
I’ve gained an insight into a world I’d never otherwise see, especially with regards to the workings of a busy magazine desk. I feel that internships show you are serious about a career and that you are willing to make an effort so it looks good to an employer. It’s always great to network and meet new people and see inside different organizations.

How do you find time for all the different internships whilst you are also working?
I was at University and on my gap year luckily enough but it is very difficult. I’d suggest taking a job in retail (I worked at Jack Wills for example in my gap year), which allows for flexible shifts.

Finally, do you have any advice for anybody struggling to get their foot in the door or struggling to find their first internship?
Yes – read this!

Massive thanks to Jennifer for taking the time to answer these questions! I hope this benefits anyone who  may be struggling with these types of internship problems – I know it has helped me. You can visit Jennifer’s blog here and you can also find an excellent feature on her blog where she regularly lists current internship opportunities – it’s very helpful!

Follow: