Where do you see yourself in 5 years time? I cringe at that question every time.
I was invited back to my University to help give a career talk to student journos, from broadcast, music and sport. I remember attending this lecture when I was a student, we had the social media guy from the RFU. So when I was asked I honestly questioned it, but I love helping others with their career (I have a weird hobby of job searching) so of course agreed. I have learnt a lot in the past 6 years from starting University to attending two Olympics to now, starting my new role with England Hockey.
I certainly wasn’t the best in my class by a long shot, I did fail media law first time round and gained only 70wpm in shorthand but I passed and ended up with a 2:1. I have never been prouder.
I have gone on from working as a full-time student officer of my student union, interned at British Athletics, first ‘real sports’ job at Scottish Hockey (voted in the referendum) to becoming an event organiser at Leeds Uni to now, turning one job down for a better one with England hockey.
I have learnt a lot post-University, you aren’t really prepared to the ‘real’ world job no matter how much they try to help. And the lecturers really do try to help but work experience is so vital, especially for me as I never got work published like my class.
Within the jobs I have had I have worked well over my hours on not very many pennies and it is only now I realise why I stay in this poorly paid, unsociable hour world. I have a passion for sport. I care too much about the organisation I end up working for which is a good thing to have passion but make sure you don’t over work. Always take your holidays and lunch!
Today I delivered a 30-minute talk and a Q & A to Staffordshire University journalism students, I wanted to share with them that you can do it. So this got me thinking on the train home, I thought I would write a blog post with my top career tips. It is not just focused around journalism/media but they are applicable for anyone starting out or just needing a pick me up in their career.
- Self-belief – if you don’t believe in your strengths then who else will?
- Sell yourself, what have you got to offer the company? Why would you make it better? Sell those strengths of yours! Cover letters should always be the chance to make you stand out and in the body of the email. Adapt for each job accordingly.
- Be nice and don’t become a teacher’s pet – people hate those brown nosers and they may jump the ladder quicker than you but trust me they won’t be liked and will fall at some point (plus they probably aren’t having as much fun as you)
- You will always be learning. Always. I never knew how to write a comms plan, they did not teach me that a university so I had to learn on the job.
- Use your common sense; this is a vital to any job you ever take. I struggle to understand anyone that doesn’t have this so make sure you do.
- Be reliable, this will get you far. Being reliable has got me paid work with British Athletics at diamond league events, which is a great bit of extra work in the summer.
- Be prepared to work hard for little pay. There is never any money in sport, sorry. BUT don’t under sell yourself by not asking for any money/expenses. Don’t ask, won’t get.
- If you really want it, relocate. I know the spare room website very well now. Don’t be afraid of jumping into the unknown. You will never know your limits if you stay in your comfort zone. You will make friends don’t worry!
- Stop worrying about what everyone around you is doing. We all move and develop at different paces and guess what? That’s fine! You should only worry about you. Get that right and you will be laughing!
- Build your brand. Be yourself then you will nail those interviews. I once described myself as loud, chatterbox and enthusiastic. I amazingly got the job! Start a blog, make sure you social media platforms reflect you and up to date.
- Don’t be afraid to be ambitious. You may not know what you really want to do and your dream job may change but that’s ok. Just go for everything 110% as you will gain so much experience that is always transferable.
- Ask questions. Know you want to work in a magazine but unsure what part or in radio? Then ask the professionals how they got there, it may surprise you how many people got to where they are today and put your mind at ease.
- Be proactive when looking for jobs and once you are in the job. Ask for more work if you don’t have any or once you have finished you work load maybe suggest ideas that you can do to help build the company?
- Never too late to change your career or gain experience in any line of work. I will be going out to find some radio experience once I have settled in my job as I still believe I can do a better job than Nick Grimshaw on Radio 1. Plus I love talking.
- Enjoy life. You only get to live it once so do what you enjoy.
Hope this helps – I am always willing to help give advice just drop me a tweet!