On the 16th of April I was lucky enough to attend Cosmopolitan UK’s first Careers Masterclass at the spectacular Freemasons Hall, London. The event was aimed at aspiring and entry-level media professionals, providing them with tips on making it in this competitive industry. The panel consisted of Editor of Cosmopolitan UK – Louise Court, Head of PR for Benefit Cosmetics – Jazz Kaur, TV Presenter – Cherry Healy, Cosmopolitan Digital Editor – Pat McNulty, Co-Founder of music PR agency Inside/Out – Chloe Melick and Editor of Life & Style at the Daily Mail – Nicole Mowbray.
For those of you who couldn’t make it, here are my top ten tips from the event.
1. Find the role you’re truly interested
Look into which roles and industries capture your imagination as these are the areas you are likely to excel in. As Cherry said ‘If you really want to do it and you’re really passionate about it then chances are you’re good at it.’ Your enthusiasm for the role is likely to increase your performance and means you’re probably developing your skills in your own time. However…
2. If you don’t get your ideal job immediately don’t panic
It’s not always possible to get your perfect internship/entry-role straight away but don’t worry if this is the case. Chloe suggested that you look at related roles and industries to widen your job search parameters. Related roles allow you to develop transferable skills and start networking with the right people. In the meantime look for ways you can develop the required skills in your own time and how you can demonstrate this to potential employers.
3. Have a strong social media presence
It’s common for potential employers to check out your social media presence, particularly in the media industry, so make sure it’ll impress them. Ensure your Facebook is only visible to your friends and that your Twitter account is relevant to your preferred industry. This can include participating in industry twitter chats, offering advice to other entry-level professionals or even just tweeting some very simple tips, whatever it is make sure it demonstrates your passion and talent.
4. Be persistent but not overbearing
There’s a line between persistence and annoyance. Louise mentioned that she once got 14 emails from one applicant in the space of about 6 weeks, it’s safe to say the person didn’t get the job. Cherry suggested talking to your friends about your applications, they can be a great monitor for when you’re being overbearing. Nicole’s golden rule is ‘two emails and you’re out’ and make sure you give it a couple of weeks before chasing, you need to be polite and understanding of the person.
5. Do your research
Get the basics right first. Find out who you need to apply to, what their email address is and how to reach them via phone for that all important follow-up call. Most of this information can be found using Google, LinkedIn or looking on their website but if those do fail then give the main office a call and ask for the details.
It’s not just people that you need to research though, Nicole emphasised the importance of being well-read, ensure you can reference a wide range of media and know what is going on in the world not just your industry.
6. Be Bold
In industries as popular as PR and journalism you need to ensure you stand out from the crowd to gain employers’ attention. Be creative in how you present your CV and approach employers. Jazz signed off her covering letter to L’Oreal with ‘You have to interview me because I’m worth it’ a cheesy move she admitted but it won her the interview which led to an internship in the Maybelline/Garnier press office. Be creative- think of your application as a test of your media skills after all you are marketing yourself.
7. Demonstrate eloquence
It sounds obvious but the main thing media employers look for in an application is a well written, eloquent email. It’s the first demonstration of your writing talent that they’ll see, spend the extra time on it and ensure you ‘express yourself immaculately’ stated Pat.
8. Make yourself indispensable
Find a regular problem that you can solve for your colleagues, even if it’s something simple like fixing the copier, you’ll become the go to person for that issue.
You want to ‘be the bright face that says I’ll fix it for you’ suggested Cherry. If you get tasked with solving an issue try every avenue you can, if after an hour you can’t fix it then go back to that person and explain why it isn’t possible. You need to demonstrate enthusiasm and willingness early in your career. Go in early and stay late, it’s a huge investment in your future career and it will pay off.
9. Don’t get stuck in a rut
If you’ve outgrown your role, then speak to your manager. Find out what avenues and opportunities are available to you and how you can get there. If it still looks like there’s no room for progression in your current role or no chance of promotion then start looking elsewhere advised Jazz. However Pat also placed emphasis on the importance of sticking it out for a while as it helps refine your skills. The panel also suggested that it’s important to stay in your first ‘proper’ job for a minimum of a year it shows you’ve got commitment and aren’t always looking elsewhere.
10. ‘Run your own race’
Chloe spoke about the importance of ‘not getting caught up in what everyone else is doing’. It’s easy to compare yourself to other professionals within the industry, but everyone progresses in their own way, there isn’t always a straightforward corporate ladder in media careers.
Focus on your own career goals and what skills you want to refine, you’ll find a way to get there.
Picture credits: Cosmopolitan UK.