THE JOB CENTRE 2016

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This time last year I decided to start something.

That ‘something’ was a month-long campaign whereby women of all ages would share their stories of job success in order to help other women realise their fullest potential and strive to accomplish their personal career goals.

I was so tired of seeing women posting wishy-washy quotes on Instagram about fate and ‘following dreams’ instead of spending their time chasing what could be a reality, whilst men were allowed to be openly competitive, ambitious and were being praised for working hard. I was hearing so little about the practical ways in which women could achieve their goals that I realised it was no wonder we sometimes felt a bit lost when it came to finding our feet in the workplace and so I decided to do something about it.

In truth, I had high hopes of becoming a fashion designer when I was younger but without any real direction or advice being readily available to me, it quickly became a dream that disintegrated into nothingness. I didn’t know one single person who worked in fashion – so how was I to step onto such an alien career ladder without someone offering me the right rung? Little did I know, at fourteen, that had I applied to Central St Martins or LCF and interned at a shit ton of fashion houses instead of sketching in a notebook whilst listing all of the reasons why I wouldn’t make it, this dream could have become a reality. Looking back, I think I just liked pretty clothes and probably wouldn’t have enjoyed working in fashion anyway – but still – you never know what could have happened had I been offered the right sort of advice or stumbled across something like, dare I say it… this.

Although there are plenty of women out there – some of whom you will hear from over the next four weeks – who know exactly what they are doing, where they are going and how they’re going to get there, there are some women, across the UK and the rest of the world, who haven’t been offered advice – or even the option – of pursuing a successful career and really making something of themselves, be it a midwife, journalist or athlete.

And this is where The Job Centre steps in.

Over the next four weeks, as will happen every September from now on, you will read about the successes of various women in a whole host of different roles and industries, ranging from copywriters and hoteliers to bloggers and barristers. Some of them might be doing the exact same thing you do and others might be working a job that you’ve never even heard of. Many of them might have had contacts that helped them get to the top and others might have grafted from the very bottom. Either way, they all have something valuable, interesting and insightful to say about how to get into a particular profession, so listen up, ladies.

If you have recently graduated and are looking to be steered in the right direction or if you are a bit older and are looking to switch jobs before the year is out, then read, comment, ask, engage and even disagree with these women if you really want to. After all, this is a conversation, not a lecture and I want everyone to get as much out of it as I do.

It isn’t difficult to do what you love, you just need to know what it takes to get there.

So, without further ado, welcome to The Job Centre 2016.

Tap the faces below to hear stories of hard work, dedication and success.

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 How to become a barrister

#WHENIGROWUPIWANNABE

THE MOVE

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Judging by how frequently I post on social media about my back-and-forthing between two cities, I’m sure you are aware that I have emigrated to the west country. That’s correct, I now live in Bristol. And have done since July.

I know right? Fucking weird.

Ever since I spent three years wishing my way out of Exeter, never did I dream that I would be leaving the motherland for the west anytime soon. But lo and behold, five years later, here I am.

The move wasn’t a decision made based on personal career progression or the fact I had a burning desire to fly the nest. Instead, my boyfriend got his dream job here, I was stuck in one that I didn’t love, I was looking for a new chapter and, whoever it is that writes our stories, decided that my plot line was growing a little stagnant and a move to Bristol would be the thing to change it.

Now, I could sugar coat this for you and pretend that it has been a euphoric experience that I will never forget, but what would be the point in that? I could be all dramatic and say that it has been torture, but that would be lying. In truth, moving from London to Bristol has been pretty… easy.

Yes, like any new change, the first couple of weeks were hard. I cried every time I thought about leaving my colleagues behind or driving away from my family and I delayed packing until the very last millisecond. I would ask all and sundry if they thought moving was a good idea just to doubly check that I was making the right decision (my own intuition has never been enough for me) but then it happened. I handed in my notice, packed up my stuff (albeit in stages) and followed my heart to Bristol without a job or any real idea of what I was going to do here.

I have never been the type of person who would have things fall into place for them. Major milestones would turn into calamities and everything seems to go a little wrong in my world. It’s been a long time coming but things have finally sort of done just that. Within a week of moving to the city, I was signed up to start a new job in Digital Marketing/PR – something that I had always been told I’d be great at but never really understood what it meant and, although there are days where I desperately miss working in education, the kindness of the people here and their great breakfast spots have made this transition a smooth one and I will be forever grateful to you for making me feel like I am exactly where I should be.

But let’s not talk too soon.

Between starting a new job and piecing together our beautiful new flat, as well as swanning off to foreign lands for friend’s weddings and such, I haven’t really had the time to stop and think about what’s just happened. But, as the summer draws to a close, things are slowing down and I can see the dust settling – I think I’m about to know how I really feel about all this.

The truth is: London was my first love. I was born there. Raised there. I had my first kiss in Ealing, drank my first drink in King’s Cross, broke my wrist in Russell Square, interned in High Street Kensington, White City and The Strand. I landed my first job in South Kensington. I have dated guys from Fulham, Clapham, Kilburn, Battersea, Camden, Stratford… and the rest. I have enjoyed carnival after carnival. I have climbed over the gate of Buckingham Palace, late at night and enjoyed a beer with friends. I have put fairy liquid in the fountain at Trafalgar Square, only to be disappointed that it didn’t turn central London into a giant bubble bath. I have enjoyed club nights at Fabric and Koko underage, sat on park benches with nothing but a Smirnoff Ice and Adele’s Hometown Glory – be it cringe or not – speaks to me. My whole life history has been written in the capital and I am not sure I’m quite ready to write the rest of my story anywhere else – but then I ask myself: is it really living if you live in one place your whole life?

London, I simply just miss you. With your dusty seats, pushing, shoving, ample rooftop bars that overcharge me for shit cocktails and lack of outdoor space. I love you because you gave me so many great venues for dates, you were the inspiration for this blog and you make life so fun that healing a broken heart was doable. I met my best friends because of you. I am strong and street-wise because of you. I admire you for opening your arms to different nationalities, genders and sexualities on a daily basis, even though you don’t always quite understand them. People think you are so harsh, grey and greedy but in reality you are a beautiful combination of strength and exuberance masked behind a haze of concrete and violent news stories.

Bristol, although I do fancy you a little bit and you treat me so well, with your laid back charm and carefree persona, London makes my heart beat that little bit faster than you do as I crawl into it on the train and I miss it more than I miss my own mother, so I think you and I both know this is temporary. But not all great love stories have to last a lifetime, do they?

They say that home is where the heart is and I’d have to agree.

Mine is most definitely nestled somewhere in the depths of that city, keeping it warm and waiting patiently for my return, whenever that may be.

SUMMER READS 2016

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I like the kind of books that your grandma would probably hate. The sort of gritty, British ones that don’t blur the edges of real life but, instead, hone in on them to try and make me cry. If you also enjoy a slice of non-fiction from time to time, read on for a run-down of my most recent reads.

Ctrl Alt Del 

Emma Gannon. Probably a name you’re seeing online A LOT these days but many of you won’t be sure why. Well, she’s a sort of jack of all trades of the online world, regularly tweeting, blogging, podcasting (is that a thing?!) as well as being an amazing writer, social media mogul and general whizz-kid. This year, she published her first book and I couldn’t be more proud – bit weird considering I’ve never even met her but the Internet world is a bit like that, isn’t it? Perhaps it’s because it’s a major dream of mine, to write a book? Perhaps it’s because I interviewed her last year and feel like I know her. Anyway, this Millennial memoir of life growing up alongside the Internet is hilarious (to say the least). If you, like me, grew up with MySpace, MSN messenger and a Nokia 3310, then this is one for you. Gannon touches on pretty much all of my teenage trials and tribulations in a way that no one has before and I promise you that Ctrl Alt Del will fill you with nostalgia for the days of dial-up Internet and an urge to dig out old photographs and SIM cards before remembering that that might be the worst idea you have ever had. People think times are bad now? The early years of the Internet, for a teenager, were very dark days indeed and Emma tells us why. Hilarious, cringe-worthy and a completely necessary read for 27-year-old females across the UK.

Becoming: Sex, Second Chances and Figuring Out Who the Hell I Am 

As a fan of Laura’s blog, I am not sure why I was so surprised by the honesty of this one. All I kept saying as I flicked through the pages of this painfully open account of one woman’s becoming was how brave she was for putting herself out there because – aside from tales of one-night stands and summer flings – the crux of this story is that Laura has found good in the fact that her boyfriend left her and went on to marry her best friend. Like, what? How do you even get over that, let alone turn it into a positive? The fact is, Laura survived and lived to tell the tale, which is something that fills me with so much courage on this sometimes trying journey of life and love. Let’s be honest, we’ve all had our hearts smashed to smithereens by someone or another, so it’s nice to hear that you’re not alone in that every once in a while. What major event led to your becoming? I would love to know.

Mindset 

This book changed my life. You might think I am being dramatic. However, as someone with 3 As at A Level from a top Catholic school in London, a 2.1 from Exeter uni, a successful blog and the most supportive network on the planet? Man oh man, I know how much that means diddly squat when you don’t believe in your own greatness – but this book snapped me out of that. I used to spend each day telling myself that I couldn’t do something if I hadn’t done it before rather than just allowing myself the space to learn. I had sort of forgotten that I didn’t achieve those grades and grow this blog because I was born knowing what pathetic fallacy was or how to use WordPress. I have learnt everything I know and will continue to learn everything I will know because someone has taught me how or I have spent hours teaching myself. This will be the case until the day I die. This book taught me to realise that it’s fine if I don’t know how to do something. It reminded me that I can do pretty much anything as long as I am open to learning and if I ask questions. Post-childhood we put so much pressure on ourselves to “just know” things for fear of looking stupid in the workplace or amongst friends and this book banishes this mindset. I urge anyone who doubts themselves (even a little bit) to read it.

The Last Act of Love

I brought this book along with me on holiday to Spain and read about two chapters, writing it off as too depressing – even for me! – for a group holiday in the sun. A week later, sat on a sun lounger in Portugal a week later with only a bottle of beer for company and I flew through the pages. A really not-very-light-hearted but effing honest account of a freak accident that changed the lives of one boy and his family forever, this book reminded me that there will rarely be conclusions, round edges, closed chapters or clean cuts in life – and that’s okay. It also reminded me that family is everything and it’s important to let your loved ones know that.

Waiting on my bedside table to be read?