The third panellist we’re featuring for our Careers In… event is Meg Roberts. Meg is a Creative Director at communication consultancy, Schwa and she’ll be on our panel for careers in journalism, publishing and writing.
Read on to find out how Meg developed her love for language into a career
Working with words
I used to think words were an after-hours activity. Diaries and poems, short stories and school newspapers; I was writing – constantly – but a career? Surely impossible. Journalism had never appealed to me (too crowded, too cut throat). And as much as I liked the mental image of being a novelist, it didn’t really seem like a financially viable career path.
So that was that, I thought. My love affair with language would stay strictly extra curricular.
Here’s what I didn’t know
The business world is full of words, and by extension, writing jobs. Sometimes, they’re clearly labelled: copywriters, UX writers, bid writers, speech writers. And sometimes, the writers are operating under pseudonyms like ‘content’ or ‘editorial’.
And even if you want to go down a totally different path, being a writer gives you a set of superpowers you probably didn’t know you had: sorting through detail, making connections, understanding what makes people (readers, users, customers) tick. That’s all strategic thinking that comes in useful at clever places like management consultancies.
To start with, write as much as you can
Internships and graduate writing roles do exist, but there are fewer of them than the likes of law or finance. So in a way, you need to create your own work experience. Campus journalism and blogs are a good place to start, but if you’re interested in writing for brands and businesses, try and do some commercial stuff too: write the blurb for a campus event; write the website for your uncle’s garage. And don’t worry so much about what kind of business you’re writing for. When people ask to see examples of your work, they’re judging the quality of the words, not the size and scale of the company.
You could even look for freelance opportunities
If you’ve got the time, there’s no reason you can’t be doing paid writing work on the side of your degree. Sites like The Dots are good places to see what’s out there. (Just be careful: there are other forums where creative people are woefully underpaid for their time. Work out your day rate and stick to it.)
When you look for full-time work, look for places with other writers
Although being the only writer in a team of, say, designers or tech experts is something you should try and experience at some point, I’d recommend starting somewhere where you can learn from other writers. Having someone to critique you, spot themes to improve on and teach you the practical tricks of the trade is all invaluable.
Decide whether you’re 100% writer or not
For example, if you’re good with people and interested in current affairs, you could go into PR and communications. If you’ve got a brain for business and numbers, you could look for account management roles in creative agencies.
Words can be your whole job, or just part of it. They can be fun; they can be persuasive; they can be serious. They can be the make or break of adverts, apps and occasionally entire businesses. They’re the best coworkers I never dared to wish for.