This week Sophie Outram, Push Junior Account Executive, blogs on how she (finally) made it into PR.
Summer 2016, I had just handed in my dissertation – four years of studying done, almost £60,000 of student debt ranked up, memories made and life lessons learnt – the real world was right there waiting.
I remember being sat in my flat looking at boxes of paperwork, pulling the final year dates calendar off my wall and thinking the hard work was over – little did I know I was about to spend the next seven months coming to terms with just how difficult the recruitment process in PR, beauty specifically, can be.
I was optimistic about my first few interviews though my nerves were often met with an office full of women looking at me as though I was an unwanted blemish. I was invited back for a second interview early on however the director’s words “some members of the team are nicer than others” was not something I felt overly happy about so I politely declined. It didn’t take long for the recruiters to bite onto the potential commission, a week or so later I had more interviews lined up.
The ladies at Kilpatrick PR were welcoming, kind and put me at ease. The interview went well, we had plenty to chat about and they seemed impressed with my experience. A few days later and I had an interview in Putney Bridge, the role wasn’t quite right for me and I couldn’t afford to move to London on a gamble. I rang the recruiter to let her know my thoughts and was met with hostility and bombarded with prying questions about exactly why is wasn’t for me, why I couldn’t afford to move. To top off an already unpleasant conversation, she blurted out “I’ve just spoken to Kilpatrick and they thought you were lovely, had great experience and loads of passion, but they chose someone else”. Not quite the outcome or reaction I had expected.
For the next four months I sent out roughly 60 applications and dealt with more recruiters than I would have liked to. On average for every 10 applications I sent I would get one interview, sometimes two. I always felt my interviews went well and I kept getting down to the final two but would just miss out.
I never felt the feedback justified why I didn’t get the role. I was left guessing, it was always positive, never constructive. Then again, at least they had the courtesy to respond to me. Not only do you jump through various hoops for weeks, spend a huge amount of money on train fares and spend hours researching the companies, some of them didn’t even have the decency to respond. One well-known skincare company organised a phone interview with me, but 3 hours after the interview was meant to happen I had still heard nothing. I emailed and called, but I was ignored. At another agency the ladies sat opposite me saying “you’re perfect, we need someone exactly like you with your passion and drive on our team”, then silence – ignored like I didn’t exist.
I had worked so hard for my degree and at Beauty Seen. I experienced stress I never thought possible, I pushed myself constantly to keep up the demands of the job and university, but none of that seemed to matter. My graduation was right around the corner, and I didn’t want it. My enthusiasm and confidence had vanished; I couldn’t even find part time work? It felt like I had officially hit rock bottom.
The night before my graduation I got a call from ghd and they offered me an interview. Then the worry set in, my confidence was so low and every interview got harder, I had to walk in trying to act confident and enthusiastic, fake it till you make it and all that. I went for the interview and it went well chatting away, I felt my enthusiasm creeping back. I got an email letting me know I was through to the next stage and I was asked to put together an event proposal. I spent 4 days working on it and took it to be print and bound. I presented my ideas at the final interview and found out it was between me and one other girl. I thought this was it, finally my moment, my chance. Then Monday came, the email read it had been a really difficult decision, but they had gone with the other girl. The feedback was lovely, but it didn’t ease the disappointment. I spent Christmas trying to put on a brave face, but I just wanted to cry and hide from my reality.
January came around and I saw an advert for a five month paid intern at Push PR on the beauty team. I picked up my laptop to write yet another covering letter. I waited for what felt like an eternity, then I got an email – I had an interview. When I arrived I felt sick, I had no confidence but I tried to stay composed. Three days later I got another email offering me the internship. I will never forget that feeling of relief and joy, I burst into tears and yelled “it’s finally over, I have a job and someone thinks I’m good enough”.
I started at Push PR the next week. I wanted to prove to them and to myself that I was good enough. My director (Zoe) and manager (Sarah) commented on how quickly I was learning the role and how much they liked having me on the team. In such a short amount of time the beauty team had taught me so much; they nurtured me and mentored me, but I knew five months would go quickly. Four months in the unexpected happen, they offered me a promotion to Junior Account Executive!
Push PR saw my potential; they saw something that every other company looked past. My family never gave up on me and without their encouragement I would have never sent that final email. Finally, I had a team that believed in me when I couldn’t, they saw potential where I saw a failure, they gave me a chance where I saw a lost cause, they gave me a job and more importantly they gave me back my hope.