Beth Leslie, Content Writer, Inspiring Interns
For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to be a writer. But although I studied English Literature at university, I was too scared to pursue my dream upon graduating. I knew how competitive the industry was and although I believed I was a good writer I thought that without a strong portfolio of published works my CV would be thrown straight in the bin.
Instead, I took a year out to go travelling, saving up the money by working retail. Part of me felt guilty for not making the most of my degree by going straight into a graduate job, and I was also worried by well-meaning advice that having a gap on my CV would make me unemployable.
I spent six months travelling all over Asia, from India to China. Nothing has developed me so much as a person as travelling independently in countries so different from my own – I learnt to think on my feet, solve problems quickly, and developed the confidence to talk to anyone, about anything!
When I returned home I was still unsure what to do with my life. Lots of my friends had done unpaid internships to get them into their dream careers, but living in London I couldn’t afford to not have a wage. I ended up going into sales. Even with the confidence boost of travelling, at first the idea of calling up big, important CEOs and asking them to buy from me was terrifying! But I persisted, and soon I was holding client meetings in swanky restaurants and closing deals worth thousands of pounds. I learnt so much about the world of business; from the importance of company branding to navigating workplace politics.
Although sales had loads of great perks, I knew it would never be my dream career. So I bought a plane ticket and spent several months in New Zealand and Australia. I did so many crazy things – bungee jumping, skydiving, diving with deadly bull sharks… and I realised that just because you’re scared of something doesn’t mean you can’t do it.
What I’d applied to great heights and shark-infested waters I applied to my professional life: I conquered my fear and threw myself in. Three years after graduating, I started applying for writing jobs. I spruced up the travelling blog I’d kept intermittently and started applying to writing competitions in order to develop a portfolio. I wound up in an interview for Inspiring Interns, a recruitment firm who were looking for a content writer. They were impressed by the commercial awareness and transferable skills I’d developed in my sales role and offered me the job!
Now I write careers advice pieces for loads of different websites. Not only do I get to tell people what to do (another long-term dream!) I get to be creative and to write every single day. I’m living proof that it is never too late to go after your dream job. These days, my writing portfolio is bulging at the seams.
This article has been provided by an external organisation, as such the views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Careers, Placement and Experience Centre.