I got an email last week from a reader who wanted advice on how to get started in the wedding industry. “For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to be part of the wedding biz”, she wrote, “But where do I begin? I am pretty crafty and I just love all aspects of weddings. I must spend most of my waking hours sifting through your website, Etsy and Pinterest. I’ve saved thousands of pictures of bouquets, décor of every theme, you name it. I want so desperately to be a part of it, I just don’t know where to start.”
This is quite a common conundrum for people starting out on their career path. They might have a vague idea about what industry they want to go into (fashion, weddings, music…) but not a clue about where to begin.
As surprising as it might be, we all have to start in the same place – right at the beginning. While you may want to simply wake up one day with a fabulous career, and knowing exactly what you want to do for the rest of your life, in reality that just doesn’t happen. What you really need to do is find a way into the industry you want to work in. You might start as someone’s assistant, by doing admin and filing in an office or by selling your homemade treasures on Etsy.
You have to put yourself in a position where you’re exposed to the things that will eventually influence your career path. It’s not going to land on your lap if you’re not out there hustling for it, and you’re certainly not going to get there by sitting on the internet creating elaborate Pinterest boards all day.
The likelihood is that it won’t be all you’ve dreamed of in the beginning. Foot-in-the-door jobs are hard work, unglamorous and probably even a little boring. Your boss might be horrible, your tasks monotonous, the hours long and the pay crappy. But you have to do these jobs before you can work your way up to where you really want to be.
Before Rock n Roll Bride I worked in television. For years I did runner and assistant jobs, my first of which earned my a whopping £10,000 a year. However, when I left the industry I was producing three hours of live television a day, managing a team of eight and earning significantly more. I would have never have got there without doing the hard work, shit pay jobs first.
So don’t worry if you don’t fall in love with your career right away. No-one ever loves their entry level job, what matters is that you’re in the right industry.
Alternatively, you could avoid working for someone else and start your own business right from the off. I personally feel that learning on the job before striking out on your own is invaluable (there are many skills I picked up while in television that I still use everyday) and while I’d never want to discourage someone from doing their own thing, make sure you’re not going into it with starry eyes and an idealistic view of how it’s going to be.
Work is still work and running your own business is the hardest job in the world. It’s rarely glamorous (she says writing this from her spare bedroom, unshowered and still wearing her PJs at 2pm) and what people see from the outside is never the full story.
The internet loves an inspirational quote. Things like “Make your passion your paycheck” and “Do what you love and never work a day in your life”. While, obviously, you should love what you do, these quotes can be somewhat misleading as they can make you think that if you really love your job then everyday is a fairytale.
The interview question that I’m always asked is “What does a typical day look like for you?” and I think the interviewers are usually a little disappointed when I reply with “Well, I get up at 8, make a cup of tea and then pretty much sit at my computer until 7pm doing emails, admin and writing…”
While I do completely adore what I do, I still have to work my butt off every single day. I have down days like everyone else. I still have to do boring tasks (emails, invoices, accounts – groan!) There are days when I wonder how much easier my life would be if I didn’t have all the responsibly that comes with running your own business. But that’s why they call it ‘work’ I guess!
While people who run successful businesses might make it look easy, that is rarely the full story. Just because it looks easy, doesn’t mean it is.
If you want to start in the wedding, or any competitive industry then my biggest piece of advice to you would just be to stop procrastinating and start doing something already. Oh and work hard… very, very hard.
Every successful person you look up to will have had a tough grind to get to where they are. Even ‘dream jobs’ have downsides. Travel writers have to spend time away from their families, wedding planners have to deal with bridezillas, musicians have to work ridiculously long, unsociable hours. Things don’t just ‘happen’. You have to hustle and work your arse off. But the real skill is making it all look easy and fun from the outside.