My Last Blog: what I’ve learnt and what’s next

My internship with Working with Words has come to an end and I have a lot to thank it for.

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For me, this internship has not only helped me to secure a place to study MA Journalism at Cardiff, but it has hugely inspired me. Working with deadlines, time-managing, writing, reading, editing, publicising, advertising, questioning, interviewing… this internship has taught me a lot.

So before I embark on my next step, I will share some of what I have learnt.

Have Confidence

This internship has taught me to know my strengths, and have pride in them. Of course, it’s good to know your weaknesses so you can improve on them but they shouldn’t hold you back or bog you down.

When things get stressful, it can be easy to focus on the negatives but I found this just puts me in a rut. Telling myself that I am a good writer and having confidence in that made the writing process much easier and gave me a huge boost for my interviews for MA.

Editing is a GOOD thing

For my first few blog posts, I would scrutinize, stress and stumble trying to write these perfect posts I had imagined in my head.

I didn’t appreciate that a first draft is called a ‘first’ draft for a reason. The first draft is just the bones of a brilliant blog, you just have to dig around a bit more and move things about.

Learning to appreciate the art of editing has been a big lesson for me, and one I will definitely use as a budding journalist. It fills me with warmth to look back and see how my writing style has grown and changed.

Thorough Research Makes the Best Interviewer

The best interviews I have ever had are the ones that I have done the most research for. If you know as much as it is physically possible about the person you are interviewing, your questions will reflect that.

Knowing your interviewee will make them feel good too – showing you have put time into thinking about their work and give them the best opportunity to speak about themselves.

Speak to Everyone, and be LOVELY

Being a chatterbox isn’t anything new, but this internship has taught me the benefits of chatting to everyone. With any creative career, having good contacts and networking is essential.

This comes from being a big people person, and taking every opportunity to meet someone, chat to someone you’ve bumped into, call or email because you never know who you might need or how they might help you.

Showing genuine interest, care and gratitude with anyone you work with, will always go a long way.

Enjoy every minute

Using the lovely Sarah Binney’s phrase, I’ve been very ‘deliberately lucky’ with this opportunity and I am so proud of what I have achieved.

I’ve truly loved being an intern for WWW and hope that next year’s intern will have the same fantastic experience that I have had.

Thank you WWW!

Working with Words: Riding the adrenaline wave of event management

Adrienne Jolly, director of WWW, explains the adrenaline and anxiety that makes event management a career she loves, and what we can take from the cancellation Working with Words to make next year’s conference bigger and better than ever.

Back to Basics

Queen of events managing, Adrienne has worked as an officer at the London South Bank Erasmus, the Royal Norfolk Show, the Anglo-Dutch conference and a variety of successful charity, gig and conference events. But even the most experienced event managers encounter blips, and when an event goes slightly awry, it’s back to basics.

“I think because the fundamentals for any event are the same. It doesn’t matter what size event, you need to know: why you’re doing it, who it’s for, and what’s the end product — from there the end details come of who why where what.”

Like WWW which was lost to the snow and strikes of 2018, Adrienne explains: “The learning curve from any event like this is to go back to basics. Despite being scuppered by the snow, which was further exacerbated by the strikes, we have to go back and discuss the basic principles of when, what and how.”

Understanding Risks

Understanding risks is all about removing obstacles: “You can’t predict every obstacle but by going back and double checking everything, you can ensure you are prepared as possible.”

More than anything, WWW shows the importance of the risk assessment. “It’s easy to assume that everything will be okay when working on a repeat event, but I’ve learnt to not take risk assessment lightly – we should always go back to square one even on repeated events”

Crossing T’s and Dotting I’s

Event management relies on in-depth planning. Adrienne explains that you have to find the perfect balance between the creative bit – coming up with the ideas – as well as attending to the minute details, crossing t’s and dotting i’s.

Part of the fine tuning is working closely with everyone, particularly your guests: “Working with Words is a multi-faceted jigsaw and you’ve got to be careful that you’re not putting people’s noses out of joint when you ask for people’s time – you’ve got to be a big people person and know how to build rapport between people.”

Ride the adrenaline wave

Every day in event’s managing is different. “You’re always riding the adrenaline wave in the build up to each event” Adrienne tells me.

“Events managing is the job for people who if you told them their job would be sat in an office doing the same thing every day – their hearts would break.”

One of the joys of event managing is the satisfaction and pleasure at the end of a successful event that you have organised and orchestrated from the very beginning.

“Even with events like WWW, which collapse through no fault of the organisers, have still created connections, linked and blossomed ideas for next year’s conference, which can be bigger and better.”

Advice for those interested in events managing

As with any potential career interests, research event management thoroughly and go to the website ‘Prospects’ – it’s a great site which breaks down event managing and shows you all the options you can go into.

The best advice is to go out and try event managing itself – the best chance to do this is with charities: “Charities are a great way of getting experience. Or become a volunteer at an event like the Norfolk and Norwich arts festival where you can develop admin skills and learn the procedures and processes.”

Alternatively, one of Adrienne’s favourite events to organise is fundraising gigs, however there’s plenty of other options such as getting involved in student societies where you can become a committee member and test your skills or working within the union.

Whatever it is, Adrienne says:
“Try it out and see if it makes your heart sing”

A New Internship Opportunity…

UEA Arts & Humanities are pioneering a new internship for four students to work on a series of live projects within the department.

Which is why I am here to tell you how my internships gave me the edge that secured me my dream opportunity, and it could be the key to yours too.

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Last year I did my first internship for FLY (Festival of Literature for Young People) where I wrote articles, directed a twitter takeover and interviewed some incredible children’s and YA authors. This year I was lucky to land this internship for Working with Words where I have done social media promotion, created this blog and engaged in several inspiring interviews.

And last month I just accepted an offer to study MA journalism at the top school for journalism, the University of Cardiff.

I truly believe talking about my internships in the application process and in the interview made me stand out as a candidate. Both my internships gave me an impressive portfolio of varied articles, interviews and blogs to prove my writing abilities and versatility as well as a lot to talk about.

Particularly for careers in journalism, experience is the must-have. You need to prove that you have consistently pursued opportunities, and internships are long-term evidence of your diligence and hard work. Internships give you a voice to prove your credibility, whether that is for a Masters application, work experience or a full-time job.

Moreover, my internships gave me so much more confidence in my abilities which I was able to highlight and showcase in the interview process for my masters applications. Internships are the place to actively try new things and give you a taste for the career you want to pursue. This was a huge motivation for me, every time I wrote a new piece or held a new interview it drove me to keep working towards my dream of becoming a journalist.

The internship which UEA Arts and Humanities are offering will give you the opportunity to develop your reporting and engage in research, writing, and content creation in a supported environment. You will be developing marketing materials and produce a skills-development programme.

I cannot recommend this opportunity enough, internships give you incomparable experience and they are super exciting – you would not regret it. There is no better advice I can give for anyone thinking about a creative career than to take this chance.

For more information and to apply, go here: https://mycareercentral.uea.ac.uk/students/jobs/detail/1173143

Hattie Grunewald: Top 5 Tips for becoming an agent

From summer internship to dream job, the brilliant literary agent Hattie Grunewald spoke with me about her top tips on becoming an agent.

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After graduating from UEA in 2013 with a BA in English Literature and Creative Writing, Hattie’s internship at the Blake Friedmann agency in London turned into her full time job where she is working with upcoming authors to publish an array of books.

“The ‘big tough agent’ who’s yelling down the phone that you see in films isn’t the reality. The agent is the liaison: they are the author’s confidant and friend – it’s really important for everyone to be friends and that way everyone is a winner.”

It can often be hard for students to know where to get started in publishing and particularly in agency, so Hattie is here to share her golden advice:

  1. Cracking the Reader-Report

    One of the foundations of agency is knowing how to write a reader-report. The reader-report is like a summary of a book, recognising the good, the bad and assessing its quality for publishing – it’s the water-filtering tool for understanding a text.

    Hattie advises seeking internships as a “great way to try new things, experience the pressures of targets and learn valuable skills for the industry”.

    Reader-reports are the first task for every intern, Hattie explains. Using your analytical skills from writing essays and honing your ability to give constructive feedback will make your reader-reports shine.

    Doing this will help you avoid the trap of writing an English literature essay: “Quite a few students will describe a book as ‘deliberately slow’, rather than realising it’s actually just boring and needs cutting.”

  2. Be Passionate

    When applying for internships or jobs, ensure you show your enthusiasm. Being passionate about your interests and knowing how to assert your opinions are essential for becoming an agent.

    For Hattie, being an agent means she can work on her passion of crime-fiction, however her work is hugely varied. Hattie’s currently looking for books of ‘women’s fiction, crime and thrillers outside of the ‘male cop, dead woman’ mould, speculative fiction, and realistic YA and middle grade fiction’.

    “You have to trust your gut feeling – you need to think will I be able to pitch it, do I believe in this book to my core? Can I read it another four times?”

  3. Recognise your Strengths

    Have confidence in the skills that your humanities degree has given you will make you stand out to employees in interviews.

    Figure out what you are good at, and how that makes you shine as a candidate. For Hattie, studying creative writing taught her how to effectively give and receive feedback, making her great for writing reader-reports.

  4. Be a Problem-Solver

    There will always be hurdles and problems to solve when working in a creative industry, and knowing how to be a problem solver is crucial.

    Hattie’s advice is: “If you ever have a question while working as an intern, always try to go to your boss with a solution to your problem rather than a question. This way either:
    a) You’re wrong and they’ll give you the right solution but you look proactive
    b) You’re right and you’ll look clever”

  5. Be determined

    Working as an agent requires determination and hard work to get to the end goal: publishing a book.

    Hattie says “the best bit about my job is when you tell a debut author that you are going to take their book. It is so rewarding making someone’s dreams come true.”

    “It’s an industry which you need to be sure you want to do because it’s a lot of hard work but it’s so worth it. And everyone I know in the industry genuinely adores it.”

 

Experience and Exposure: kick-start your writing career

Now is the time to get work experience: you don’t need to wait until you’ve finished uni to get your foot in the door, so says Phoebe Harding.

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Third-year English Literature busy-bee, Phoebe spoke to me this week about how she has built herself a strong journalism portfolio alongside her academic studies.

As a previous editor in chief for the TAB and now editor of Dutch magazine ‘Cross Border’, Phoebe is here to share her tips for climbing the careers ladder as a student.

People want Students

“Businesses want to hire students, because they know they are getting a good deal. Even if it’s unpaid or poorly paid, the experience and the exposure you get is worth it every time”

And that is exactly the mentality Phoebe has taken in every opportunity that has crossed her path in order to build an essential portfolio for journalism.

Entering the world of journalism as a content writer for the ‘TAB’, she started off writing a variety of fun and quirky articles. In June of her first year, with summatives submitted, Phoebe took the reins and wrote ten articles in a week which landed her the role of editor-in-chief at the TAB for her second year. Writing three articles a day, Phoebe revelled in the responsibility and craft of editing, despite the pressures.

“People who can write well will always be in demand. Make someone laugh, buy something or change their mind about something – that’s a real skill.”

It might not be your dream job

Part of being a student writer is that you might not be doing exactly what you imagined, but it’s about building experience and maybe, like in Phoebe’s case, you might even find a new passion.

Phoebe discovered this when she began freelance writing for the company ‘Sale supply’, who help companies to translate magazines into different languages. Phoebe’s role is to edit and turn google-translated pieces into coherent articles.

“Before this I didn’t have any clue about it. I’d never considered the importance of a job like this, but I’ve learnt so much and find the process really interesting.”

Magazine Editor

Another opportunity to seize writing experience was Phoebe taking advantage of her housemate leaving her year abroad. Before Phoebe’s housemate left her job as translator for Cross Border, a Dutch e-commerce magazine who produces magazines and websites, she recommended Phoebe to the company. Within a day, Phoebe had been offered the role of editor for Cross Border and taken it.

As a magazine-enthusiast, this job is ideal for gaining practice in a professional writing environment.

“I grew up on a steady diet of magazines, I love them. I’m not interested in hard news as I’m not particularly facts orientated. My interest has always been in features or listicles and opinion pieces.”

Why is it worth it?

Even if the job doesn’t pay well, it will pay off in the future. Valuable work experience and exposure in creative careers such as journalism is essential: it not only gives you the chance to taste your future but makes you more employable, as Phoebe has proved.

The Beast from the East

The Beast from the East was a force to be reckoned with and in the wreckage of its wake was ‘Working with Words’.

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As the snow coated Norwich and the streets crystallised with black ice, fears for guests and speakers travelling to WWW increased. It was with sadness, for the safety of everyone involved, that the decision was made to postpone WWW until the weather improves.

But we are undefeated.

Careers Central are currently reshuffling and reorganising the events so that as many sessions can go ahead as possible. For the biggest events, the ‘Publishing Alumni Panel’, the ‘Film, Television and Radio: Production Panel’ and the ‘Creative Careers’ Panel will be running after Easter.

This blog will also continue to share the journeys and careers advice from our speakers and alumni that I will be speaking to over the course of the next few weeks.

So, keep your eyes peeled for information and stay away from the black ice…

How to be ‘Deliberately Lucky’

“Knowing your limits is so important. Be able to say ‘hey I’m really good at this thing’ and know your own strengths.”

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Determined academic Sara Helen Binney has created herself a glittering portfolio career and she is here to tell me how she did it by taking opportunities and saying yes; the art of being deliberately lucky.

So, ahead of her debut at WWW’s creative career panel, Sara Helen met with me to share how she has created her career turning unplanned events into brilliant opportunities.

Freelancing

This is exactly what happened whilst Sara Helen was volunteering at the Norwich and Norfolk festival. After networking with the professionals Sara Helen was offered an opportunity freelancing. She now works with the Writers Centre, teaching creative writing classes in primary schools. Sara Helen said: “The literary scene in Norwich is little enough and big enough that there are so many opportunities. We are the city of literature after all.”

Lecturing

The perfect example of intentional fortune is Sara Helen’s favourite ‘getting a job’ story.  Scrolling through her phone, Sarah Helen saw someone last-minute advertising for someone to lecture detective crime fiction on a ‘women in academia’ Facebook. Sara Helen immediately messaged, back and forth, and within three days she had the job.

Prison

One day with her band (cool lady right?), Sara Helen’s band mate offered a position reading in prisons, a charity project of reading aloud together. For over a year now, Sara Helen has been working with The Reader Organisation discussing poetry with prisoners, which she thinks is fantastic: “It’s a way about talking about literature in the most refreshing way, particularly as a baby academic.”

Founding a publishing company

Drinks, a friend and one idea: that’s all it took to seed the idea of a publishing company. And as chance would have it, Sara Helen and her friend saw an advertisement for the UEA enterprise money application and they seized the opportunity. Whipping up a business plan and hoping for the best – they did it. They won. Kick-started by the enterprise money, Sara Helen’s joint company ‘Seam Editions’ has now just published its second ever book, with many already online.

Say yes more than you say no

As much as Sara Helen claims serendipity of her career adventures, it is her organisation and drive that has got her here. Networking and making connections everywhere has opened doors and she has walked straight through them. Using careers services has also always been her golden nugget of advice.

“I wasn’t always able to do the balancing that this career requires or deal with the uncertainties of starting out, but I’ve learnt a lot and I’m really excited to share how I have done it at Working with Words”.

Sara Helen’s session ‘Building a Creative Career’ at Working with Words takes place in the lecture theatre from 3:00-4:00 at UEA.

Book your tickets here: My Careers Central log in