In today's crowded market it's no longer enough to be talented and creative; you have to be proactive as well. This doesn't mean sponging off parents and trying to get into the industry through connections (though networking never hurts) but taking your own initiative and using it to market yourself. You need to be able to demonstrate your skills, and employers are so inundated with CVs that it's hard to make an impact.
I'm constantly asked how I managed to get into the industry and thought I'd share some of the lessons I've learned. Some may seem obvious, whilst other suggestions will make you think, so pick what's most helpful for you out of these ideas.
Here are my top tips for making it in the fashion and beauty world of journalism.
Networking is no longer the exclusive domain of the old boy's network or Cambridge Alumni, The advent of social media such as Twitter and Facebook means you can instantly get connected to magazine editors and journalists worldwide. Sign up to these networks and start following them and try and build up a rapport. Spamming them with demands of work experience won't work, but intelligent discourse is a valuable way of building up a good contact base. Be aware how you present yourself online- if you're using this tool as a potential way to find job opportunities you'll want to limit your language and just what you share. I myself have had job opportunities come to me straight through Twitter, so be aware how you present yourself to the world.
Start a Blog
If you want to get involved in writing the first place to start is by writing. It sounds simple but you'd be surprised how many CVs from writers or aspiring students I get who don't have a website. It doesn't have to cost any money - both Blogger and Word press will give you free hosting and free templates, and is a great way to showcase your work, At the very least I'd expect you to upload published articles and information on the site, but creating regular articles and building up a following is the best CV you can give yourself. I've previously hired students based on the quality of their personal blogs, and these girls now work full time in fashion.
I'm not suggesting that you give away six months of your life for no pay, but having work placements from 2-4 weeks is a great way to test the waters and learn what type of role you'd like to do. There are far more roles in journalism than you'd think- as well as writers there are sub editors, picture researchers, event planners - don't limit yourself by aiming to be Anna Wintour 2.0 (though you should aim high). A good internship should provide you with an insight into the everyday life of a magazine/website office and will teach you skills that you need for fulltime work.
If you show willingness a good placement may allow you to get a byline on articles, and good interns are always next in line if full time jobs appear. The media world is incestuous - a good intern will be referred onto another magazine, whilst one who is ungrateful and doesn't use the opportunity will be blacklisted. No one is suggesting you should be slave labour, but there is a middle ground here, and you can learn valuable lessons.
Learn your specialty.
It's no good saying, 'I want to work in fashion' without an idea of what that entails- or even who you want to write for. Try and narrow down the field a little - a speciality will put you miles ahead of the competition. Love breaking stories about the latest trends? Catwalk news might be your thing. Enjoy detailed analysis of shows? Feature writing might be for you. Want to help create new looks for women and style people? You might have a career in real life stories. Love TV? Start your own YouTube channel. Practise writing the kind of articles you enjoy most and follow those topics online.
I hope these tips will help you on your career path into the media industry, and I wish you the best of luck.
Follow Zara Rabinowicz on Twitter: www.twitter.com/almostzara