I was thoroughly excited at the prospect of attending a media masterclass presented by a panel of truly inspirational women. Not only because it meant I had a lovely break from writing assignments, but because I knew it would give me a lot to think about.

Arriving at the Renold building in Manchester, we were greeted by a large copy of the cover of this months Cosmopolitan, with covergirl Alesha Dixon, a great summer collection and talk about a ‘new orgasm’. We acquired drinks tokens for a glass of wine and patiently waited for the lecture to start. When we all shuffled into the lecture hall there were gift bags waiting for us, courtesy of Cosmo (I was mostly grateful for the full-sized bottle of Palmer’s Cocoa Butter because I love the stuff) and we all had a look through to see our goodies before it began. The panel was very diverse and included the editor of Cosmopolitan, Louise Court (@LouiseCosmoEd) who pretty much has The Dream Job. Rachel Burke-Davies (@MissRachBD) who co-presents the Breakfast Show for Capital FM was also there as well as Rachel Hardy (@RachelHardyPR) who was a publicist at Lime Pictures. Sarah Hall (@sarah_hall) was also on the panel who had worked her way up to become a publicist at Sony. There was also the very determined Lizzi Hosking (@lizzihosking) who is the Entertainment Director at Cosmo and finally Pat McNulty (@Pat_McNulty) who is the Web Editor for the magazine.

Cute goody bag from Cosmopolitan
Cute goody bag from Cosmopolitan

Louise asked all of the panel questions regarding their jobs, the glamorous side of things and the not so glamorous. We also learnt some great advice for applications and how to get ahead. Rachel Hardy told us how important it was to be interested in the industry and to show that in applications and covering letters etc. She also stated that we should consume news across different forms and have a passion for the job. Sarah agreed, she told us about how many people she’d asked in an interview “what are your three favourite music campaigns?” and they didn’t have an answer. She stressed that you need to research the company and be “media savvy”. The rest of the panel then went on to discuss that you should always be a “yes person”. Lizzi said that a lot of the jobs would just be making tea and photocopying but saying ‘yes’ can help to show your enthusiasm and drive.

We also learnt a lot about the panel. Pat told us that she did a French literature degree which she admitted wasn’t the most helpful degree but even so, it put her on the path that led her to being the web designer for one of the biggest women’s magazines in the UK. Rachel Burke-Davis was similar. She had spent a lot of time doing various different jobs within the radio station until she finally managed to get on air a month before her 30th birthday. As I’ve said, Lizzi was very determined in getting the job she wanted, she admitted that she’s still got the big pile of no’s that she received from various companies before she managed to get a placement at Elle in London while in her first year of university. Taking a risk, she took out a bank loan, moved to London and began to pursue her career (without telling her Dad). Sarah told us that a lot of the time she was working for nothing but getting the experience she needed and having part-time jobs on the side. She told us how she planned to move by saving as much as she could before making that big move to London. Louise recounted a story of when she’d done a placement and the boss had told her that they were only looking for ‘high flyers’; “who’s the high flyer now?” Louise told us smiling. There was also a question and answer session where people asked whether age was important to the industry, whether it mattered if you had children and also the competitiveness of the media industry. Dos and Don’ts from the panel:

  • DO behave and be professional when on a placement or doing an internship
  • DO be aware of what you do or say on social media sites
  • DO be presentable for interviews
  • DON’T have an ego
  • DO tell the company what you can do for them in covering letters
  • DO use good paper quality if you’re sending applications by post
  • DO be creative with your covering letter (Sarah Hall sent a covering letter in the form of a press release and got 2 internships from it)
  • DON’T copy and paste covering letters and forget to change the name of the company and who you’re writing it to
  • DON’T forget to check spelling and grammar
  • DO research of the company.

We also received some advice and inspirational words from the panel:

Rachel Hardy: “Take every opportunity”

Rachel Burke-Davies: “Respect the position you’re in. Be yourself, be confident”

Sarah Hall: “Be indispensable and enthusiastic”

Lizzi Hosking: “who cares if you get loads of nos!”

Pat McNulty: “Push yourself and be brave”

Louise Court: “Run your own race”

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