I met up with my friend Nat yesterday for our annual caffeinated catch-up. Despite a slight false start when we realised we were waiting for each other in different Starbucks (the problem with Cardiff having a mighty four in it’s city centre), it was SO good to see her. We were close all through our degree, bonding over our mutual love of filofaxes, and eating pick and mixes in the library in final year. I even hung out with her and her dad at graduation (my mother, at 5 foot nothing, is hard to find in a crowd). I’m so glad we’ve stayed in touch. That just doesn’t happen with all your lecture buddies.
Nat is now a magazine journalist. Having written features for a home decorating title during final year, she became an editorial assistant job at a crafts mag in the same publishing house, and absolutely loves it. It has also afforded her the world’s greatest Facebook statuses, including one about being sent on a course to learn how to make fondant elephants. I commented, ‘I want your life’.
On a more serious note, we got talking about Opportunities, particularly in terms of Colchester (her) and Cardiff (me) versus London. Nat has just been promoted to Deputy Editor – an incredible acheivement, not because of her lack of merit (the girl is incredible), but because she was up against someone senior, from the same company, with 4 years more experience. They told her themselves that her getting it was pretty much ‘unheard of’, but they can see the talent in her. Good girl!
Now, being given a chance like that just wouldn’t necessarily happen in a huge, all-powerful, London publishing house or PR firm. It’s fish and ponds again, an analogy I’m fond of. We both left uni with Dick Whittington stars in our eyes, dreaming of Oxford Street and Oyster cards. But by starting out our careers – because that’s what we’re doing now! – in smaller ponds, you get opportunities you just wouldn’t get in London.
(And anyway, I now have an oyster card – and turns out they’re just pure unadulterated confusion. I always thought I was ‘good at London’, but now My Middle-Temple-via-the-Valleys boyfriend swipes with ease, despite having been to London a grand total of once when we met. Damn it!)
I told Nat about the new job, and about how I’m really excited that it’s a small, tight little team. It means I’ll get responsibility from the start, I’ll be given stuff to do right from the word go. I’ll get to learn and to grow really quickly, rather than just being one of many, fighting to impress.
She said that when you’re given a chance like she has, you don’t walk away from it! While she originally thought she’d just be in Colchester for a little while, biding her time, almost… she’s really happy where she is. And she’s doing well out of it. She’s progressing. She’s a deputy editor at the age of 23 – in London, now, she might still be an intern. I’m kind of the same in Cardiff. I honestly thought I’d be at the Union for a year, and move to London as soon as I could. But I’ve got this job now, for, fingers crossed, a good little while! I’m in Cardiff for a little more than I saw myself sticking around. But I wouldn’t get opportunities like this if I wasn’t.
I know London is still the centre of the PR universe, but I’ll get further here in 2, 3 years than I ever would if I moved now. So a lesson learnt – be prepared for plans to change, or at least to widen the search. We’re always told these days to make decisions quickly, to get there faster, keep moving, tick tock tick tock! But it turns out there’s something to be said for waiting. Bide your time and build yourself up a bit. See the potential, not just the postcode.
Can’t believe I start so soon. I was away at the weekend for my boyfriend’s graduation – but now that that’s passed, my mind is free to start whirring about Thursday! It’s come round pretty quick, and I’m getting quite nervous… but nerves are a good thing, right? And underneath the nervy fizzing I know it’ll be fine, I know I can do it. So nerves aside, I also kind of can’t wait!