One of the most disconcerting conversations I’ve ever had was with my school careers advisor, who told me that I was unlikely to realise my dream of becoming a journalist and editor given my lack of academic qualifications or contacts in my chosen field.
I was 15 and about to embark on a summer internship at my local newspaper. Sitting where I am today, I can tell you that those two criteria have been the least valuable in my journey to the job I love. No one has ever asked me what my exam qualifications are and I’ve never needed anyone’s help to open doors.
So what do you need to make it in the industry you chose? It’s a question I am always asked so I thought I’d give you a few ideas, which may or may not be helpful.
- Expect the unexpected and never take no for an answer. There is always a way to get things done or get to the people/places you want to get to. Be clever, think laterally and be persistent.
- Have a life. Working from 8am to 10pm is not going to help you succeed, especially in a creative industry. Interests outside of the job you do round you as a person and help you bring something new to work. And it is always good to have thinking time. Go on holiday, too.
- Be proactive and effective. Be the first the offer to do something and add an extra dimension to whatever you are asked to do.
- Never be late, be polite and dress well.
- Don’t stop thinking. If you love your job you’ll always be thinking about it and working out ways to do it better.
- Be positive. As someone who has managed many people over the years, those who remain positive have done the best in their work. Negativity breeds a bad attitude and saps everyone’s energy. Just smile and get on with it.
- Don’t expect anything to be handed to you on a plate. Work hard to achieve what you want and ask for the support you need to do that.
- Learn from those below you. I have learnt far more from new aspiring editors than I have from older more experienced ones.
- Be collaborative. Don’t try and do everything on your own. Everyone needs help and eventually you are only as good as your team.
- Accept that not everyone will like you and stop worrying about what others think of you – it’s debilitating.
- Remember karma – it will always get you in the end so do the right thing.
- Family is more important than work. I don’t need to explain that. Just go with it and you won’t have regrets.
I hope that makes sense. I’d love to know what you have all learnt in your careers so far, so leave a comment and I’ll respond.
Harvey Nichols is producing a limited-edition bag to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee (it’s cute, no?) and has sent editors this personalised Smythson notebook for our London thoughts as part of the celebrations. God bless the Queen – we get a gift for her 60th anniversary!
Jacket: Etoile by Isabel Marant from Matches. I got this yesterday and think it's the last size 10 in London!
Trousers: These are my Whistles purchase.
Shoes by Dolce & Gabbana. T-shirt by James Perse