As a fresh faced, post GCSE teen ready to take on the world, my drama teacher imparted five very special words onto me: “Don’t Dream It, Be It”. And while I was fully aware that he was quite probably writing those same five words into every other leavers book he signed, it did not deter the feelings of hope and inspiration that the phrase stirred within me.
Still young, and I would say somewhat naive, my ‘dream’ at the time was to be an actress. A dream that sadly, after many a failed drama school audition turned out to be little more than a fanciful notion; turns out I’m more of a drama queen than a queen of stage and screen! But undeterred I moved onto a bigger, and it’s safe to say more realistic, dream.
As the first person in my family to ever go to university I was wading in unchartered territory when I accepted a place at Goldsmiths to study a BA in Media and Communications. I settled on Media Studies as unlike Drama it was actually a subject that I not only excelled in at school, but also had a shot of making into a prospective career. Throughout my three year course I dabbled in everything from film producing and photography to radio, scriptwriting and journalism. And it was the latter which became my career to this day, but not before some unforeseeable hurdles that would seriously test my commitment in turning those five words into a reality.
On the cusp of graduating and filled with excitement and anticipation as to what the next chapter would hold, myself and the rest of the media third years were ushered into a meeting and told in no uncertain terms that we would be graduating into a recession and that the future looked bleak. At the time the word recession meant little to me and if I’m honest I thought the whole thing was a tad over dramatic! It really is quite incredible just how wrong you can be sometimes.
After an exciting but sadly fruitless two weeks interning at More! magazine I attacked the London journalism scene with gusto, applying to each and every job that caught my eye. But sadly my lack of experience coupled with an incredibly high volume of applicants meant that I got little, if any, response. Disheartened and broke I decided to accept a full time job in retail, learning how to merchandise and dress windows; a job which I enjoyed but just wasn’t the one.
It soon became clear to me that my only way into the industry would be to pay my dues and work from the bottom. One successful internship led to another until I found myself at Semple’s door and after a thoroughly enjoyable 3 month internship I said goodbye with a heavy heart; not knowing that it was in fact just farewell.
A year on and itching to leave the finance editorial position I found myself in, Semple’s Facebook post declaring that they were hiring couldn’t have come at a better time. Today, over two and a half years and a promotion later, I find myself at my desk typing these words; an advocate of hard work, persistence and fate.
My boss Maggie Semple recently nominated me for a Rising Star Award, an initiative started by WeAreTheCity founder Vanessa Vallely to celebrate the future leaders and female pipeline of talent in London. It turned out to be an award that I was incredibly grateful and honoured to receive, surrounded by over 200 winners, supporters and mentors all there for one simple reason: to empower and celebrate the next generation of women in business. Standing on that stage, award in hand, those five words came back to me and it dawned on me that I’d done it; I dreamt and I became.