Lifestyle · February 10, 2018

A Life In Work: My Career Journey

I’ve been planning on doing a proper work inspired post for a while now, and after seeing a few pop up (namely from the gorgeous Alex and Charlotte), thought I’d properly sit down and chat you through all things revolving around the big wide world of careers.

I asked on Instagram about the kind of topics you’d all like to see over here, and this came up again and again- so, knowing there’s no time like the present- I thought I’d get in to the nitty gritty of near enough every way I’ve dabbled in the world of work, and how I got into this blogging malarky. I feel like only since sitting down and going through it all do I actually realise how much I’ve done- so hopefully this is relatively useful if you’re in a similar position, or feeling a little lost yourself. I’ve also added in a few notes on what I learnt throughout each stage of work, in hope that there may be a little takeaway value from this too. So, let’s start at the beginning…

From UCAS to uni…


Having studied English Literature, History, Art and Photography at A Level- it always felt pretty clear to me about the direction I wanted to go in after I left school. After starting my blog whilst taking my A Levels 8 years ago- at the time it was very much a hobby and something I mainly used to share my photography work (which you can see here). It was one of the only websites that worked on the school computers in my common room, so breaks would be spent popping together new posts and sharing wish lists simply just because- trust me, there was no RewardStyle back in the day, kids!

When it came to applying for university, I definitely felt a bit lost- and was in constant debate about whether to take the ‘safe’ option of English or take an Art Foundation course and go on to something more creative. In the end I ended up applying for five redbrick universities, all to study some variant of English, and despite not getting into my first choices of Leeds and Nottingham- ended up going to Liverpool to study English and Communication studies- a city I loved, but a course I quickly grew to dislike (bar the handful of great pals I made), meaning I left 3 months in and moved back home to London.

At this point, I ended up feeling pretty lost- and although I tried (and failed) to get into London College of Fashion (something that left me completely heartbroken at the time), I knew it was time for a bit of a change of direction- and set off to the world of interning…

What I learnt:

– Always, always follow your heart and don’t feel pressure just because something ‘should’ be the right thing. I felt like I should have taken the ‘safe’ choice when it came to deciding on universities, but nobody knows you like you.
– If at first you don’t succeed, try again. A cliche, but something I learnt after leaving university and then trying again and still not totally cracking it. It’s so easy to feel demotivated when things don’t go your way- but there’s often a reason, and things will fall into place.
– There’s no shame in admitting something isn’t right. Thankfully I had the most supportive family and best friends- but making the decision to leave university was a toughie (especially when you know how much has gone into getting you there)- but if something isn’t right, it isn’t right- and better to have given it a go and worked it out than never tried at all. A lot of people say university is the making of someone, but it was leaving it that really edged me in the right direction. CHEESE.

On the shop floor…


Alongside education- I pretty much started working as soon as I was able to- basically, so I was able to go shopping and buy clothes. From working at a popcorn stand in my local shopping centre (ALL GLAM HERE LADIES), to Sunday shifts at Topshop, waitressing at my favourite local Italian and later endless shifts at Whistles on Westbourne Grove- I learnt a lot balancing shop work with everything else. I think there’s a lot to be said for people that work in retail; because the people skills, energy and work it requires is quite something (I always say everyone should have a stint working a Topshop sale to make them a tougher person)! After university, and whilst juggling interning- working in retail was an integral part of keeping everything afloat, and meant I could afford to do 5 days a week in a fashion cupboard- no matter how tiring everything could be.

What I learnt:

– Retail experience will always look good on a CV, and being a pest and re-handing out your CV to your favourite shop again and again isn’t always a bad thing- often it’s timing, so make sure you’re always top of the pile.
– If somewhere says they ‘need someone with experience’ before you have experience- make it! Start a blog- and pick up on your skills that you might not have had the chance to flaunt yet and give yourself some home grown portfolio pieces that show how passionate you are.
– That people skills and invaluable. Not only did I make some amazing friends through changing room shifts and early starts- but any job with the public is a great one to have.

Inside the fashion cupboard…


My first ever bout of work experience was at the NME- and they are some of my favourite memories from interning I’ve had, and possibly some of the most valuable. From writing practise single reviews, sorting post and occasionally rubbing shoulders with some serious greats- I felt incredibly lucky to be able to go back again and again until I left school, learning more each time and feeling a little more confident too.

After school and once I’d left university, I started emailing near enough everywhere in order to get some hands on internships. Although this is definitely easier said than done (it took a while to get anything through, trust me)- I ended up starting a long run of internships at Company magazine in their fashion cupboard, as well as Look magazine- both of which mainly consisted of sample returns and call in’s- which although tiring, definitely helped build experience. The last internship I did before I went freelance was at Notebook magazine- somewhere I have the fondest memories of, and the first place I felt I could properly get involved with the team and be of real value. I assisted on shoots, did an occasional bit of writing and truly felt of (small) importance- which always makes me feel very fondly of that chapter in my life.

What I learnt:

– Fashion cupboards and interning definitely isn’t glamorous, but being keen, upbeat and enthusiastic is invaluable. I know it’s easy to say and a lot harder to do (especially when you’re on your knees sorting through mountains of samples and feel incredibly self conscious)- but it’s the little ways of getting remembered that truly help.
– When applying for things be as creative as you like! I always recommend Etsy for amazing CV templates and know friends that have sent IRL post (and specific press-release style send outs) in order to try and get a foot in.

Hittin’ the freelance…


Between interning and going full time with my blog, I dabbled a little in the world of freelancing. I only ever did a couple of days a week across social media for a couple of different wholesale and PR companies, but it felt like a gentler way of sidestepping into doing my blog full time and managing myself- which wasn’t ever really the plan (I didn’t realise it ever could be)! It really helped me build my knowledge of social media management, and although it was a time where social was all very new and unknown- I felt relatively confident in what I could offer, and also learnt a lot about blogger outreach coming at it from the other side for a little while too.

What I learnt:

– Twitter is a great place for scouting out freelance opportunities. Both of mine were word of mouth and recommendations from friends, so talking to people in overlapping industries and keeping conversations up is a great way of knowing what is going on. Also checking sites like Fashion Monitor for upcoming gigs. I’m certainly no freelance expert, but this was what I got from the small nugget of experience I had!

And then full time with the blog…


And, bringing us up to about 4 years ago when I finally went full time with the blog! When I started it definitely wasn’t a viable career option, so rounding up to now when it completely is seems pretty surreal. Fortunately I never had to make the huge jump from secure 9-to-5 to self employed business owner, so it’s definitely been a work in progress (especially as someone who is about as savvy with business as they are with sports knowledge)! I’m definitely still getting to grips with everything from tax, Invoicing and standing my ground- but I’ve definitely started acquiring a new skill set meaning I’m able to grow, learn and develop as someone not only working creatively but owning a business too. But I definitely think there’s another post for that…!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this (pretty lengthy) insight into my world of work! Obviously I’m totally happy to answer any questions you may have (not that I’m by any means an expert)- but sharing is caring, and I’d love to share any advice I can- as goodness knows it wasn’t always online when I needed it!

x




21 Comments

  • Reply
    Rachel
    February 10, 2018 at 9:55 am

    I loved this post, not just hearing that everything would have been okay if I had dropped out (I wanted to in first year as I hated it, got into year abroad, hated third year), and from someone who does similar stuff to me and has also never really had a solid relationship with a 9-5. Will be sharing this x

  • Reply
    Ariadna
    February 10, 2018 at 9:57 am

    This post was so interesting to read, specially seeing your journey since you were in school! It’s crazy where life can take you ๐Ÿ™‚ and, I agree, if you fail try again – never give up!

    Ariadna || RAWR BOWS

  • Reply
    jen
    February 10, 2018 at 11:01 am

    I love this. I had no idea you studied English Lit, I loved reading about your career journey! I think interning is so valuable too, I know the feels of the fashion cupboard too well but I think those little moments really help shape you for the fashion industry.

    jen, velvet spring x

  • Reply
    Emily
    February 10, 2018 at 11:16 am

    This post was really interesting and helpful. It amazing how many options there are and the different paths you can take! Great post x

  • Reply
    Philippa
    February 10, 2018 at 11:37 am

    Iโ€™ve followed your blog from the very early days and itโ€™s so amazing to hear your story, youโ€™ve come such a long way! I saw a quote the other day that actually fits quite nicely, it went something like, โ€œYou may not always end up doing what you think you should be doing, but you will always end up doing what you are meant to be doing.โ€ And I think your story is testament to that! ๐Ÿ™‚ xxx

  • Reply
    Fazelah
    February 10, 2018 at 12:09 pm

    I absolutely adored this post, Liv! It is always so reassuring to see other people’s journey and hear their advice. I cannot agree with you more about doing a retail stint some point in your life. I would urge anyone to get a part time job as soon as you can, I started out as a Barista at Costa Coffee, and whilst retail is not glamorous, the experience alone has benefitted me so much. In this day and age, people value job experience- whatever it is- and it makes you so much more appreciative of life in general!
    I think it’s also important to remember that everyone’s career journeys are different, and whilst its okay to look to others and take advice, remember that you have to make your own path. And that’s okay!
    Bisous, Faz
    http://www.livinglikeaparisienne.com

  • Reply
    Flo la vita
    February 10, 2018 at 12:13 pm

    This was such an interesting post. I’ve always been really interested in careers and how people got to where they are now, This post has defiantly made me want to get some experience in retail xx

    http://www.flolavita.co.uk

  • Reply
    Andrea
    February 10, 2018 at 1:31 pm

    It may sound like a strange question but do you think that someone can be too old to start a blog? ๐Ÿ˜€

  • Reply
    Courtney Hardy
    February 10, 2018 at 1:57 pm

    This was a cool insight. Interning is a good way to get involved in the community. I wish i could be a full time blogger because it’s a really creative career.
    https://sugarcoatedbears.blogspot.com/

  • Reply
    Sneha
    February 10, 2018 at 2:32 pm

    This was really interesting! I love reading about the different career paths out there, because growing up, everything always seemed so linear. As someone whose career path didn’t end up the way I thought it would but still turned something I still enjoy, I can see where you’re coming from. Well done on all your achievements, you must be really proud!

    Sneha | lifewithsneha.com

  • Reply
    Rae
    February 10, 2018 at 3:05 pm

    Thank you liv for sharing this. Really insightful โค๏ธ

  • Reply
    Tasha
    February 10, 2018 at 4:25 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing this. I’ve just left uni and definitely felt lost when I realised things were most certainly not going to be easy. I’ve just started going freelance at a fashion company so your words were really motivational and helpful!

  • Reply
    cristy
    February 10, 2018 at 7:50 pm

    what an amazing post, its so great to see how far you have come and what you did to get yourself where you are now xx

    cristynottingham.blogspot.co.uk

  • Reply
    Emily
    February 10, 2018 at 10:45 pm

    Absolutely loved this and as someone who is about to graduate in June with not a clue yet as to what Iโ€™m doing, itโ€™s so nice to know others have a slightly windy path to get to where they want to be too!

    Emily x
    EVHXO | A Postcard from Paris

  • Reply
    Emily
    February 10, 2018 at 11:49 pm

    Wonderful post Olivia! Really insightful, particularly for a newbie just having started a blog – great tips ๐Ÿ™‚ xo

  • Reply
    Briana
    February 11, 2018 at 12:41 am

    So interesting, especially for me to read since I am about to graduate and figure out what I want to do

    Briana
    https://beyoutifulbrunette.com/

  • Reply
    Dominika Rekas
    February 11, 2018 at 9:11 am

    Thanks for the insight, I really enjoyed reading this post. As someone in a similar position right in the middle of uni life and internships, I really appreciate you sharing how you got to where you are now. You are my career inspiration ๐Ÿ’–

  • Reply
    Jenny
    February 11, 2018 at 4:10 pm

    So interesting to hear what your experience was of university and the world of work. I’ve ended up going into freelancing, which I never would have thought I would have been doing – it’s funny how things change and opportunities appear x

    Jenny | Luxestyle

  • Reply
    Josie
    February 12, 2018 at 1:19 pm

    This is really interesting to know how to came about to blogging and getting to know you and your background – I love that you’ve added what you learnt from each experience too!! I’m new to blogging and all the regulations behind tax and doing sponsored posts – if you have any advice or know anyone who’s done a post on it, I’d love to read more!!

    Daughter of An Air Hostess // Fashion, Travel & Lifestyle

  • Reply
    Grace Louise
    February 12, 2018 at 4:07 pm

    Such a lovely blog-post, this was soooo interesting I loved it!

    http://www.gracelouiseofficial.blogspot.co.uk/

  • Reply
    5ft Life
    March 2, 2018 at 3:43 pm

    Great post, just shows everything is a learning curb and experience! You just need to try and make the most of everything.

    Hayley xx
    http://www.5ftlife.co.uk

Leave a Comment