How was your University time? How I discovered my love for language?
I started my journey with a couple of false starts. I didn’t know what I wanted to study, so I decided to do Maths. It was a mess, and I dropped out before I could finish my degree. Then I discovered my love for language – the structure and creativity of it. So, I studied Language and Culture at Stellenbosch University. While studying, I worked part-time at a bookstore, and my love for the written word grew.
Why did you choose a career in this field?
I fell into it. I knew that I wanted to work with words and language, and marketing was the best job available. I started with a copywriting job but have gone from just writing copy for clients to arranging campaigns, liaising with clients, producing webinars, and so much more.
What was your first job or nuggets from jobs you had that helped you get to where you are today?
My first job was as a copywriter for social media, websites, newsletters, etc. I have also worked on book editing. My first project was proofreading the reference section of a historical book, which taught me precision. In contrast, my second project involved editing a romance novel, which really helped grow my creative writing skills.
How did you prepare for the interview?
For my interview at YehBaby, I ensured that I was dressed and looked presentable without looking too formal. I searched online for common interview questions and let the interviewer learn more about my personality and work ethic. I was willing to do any assignments that my employer might have needed to check my specific areas’ proficiency.
Can you provide some book recommendations?
I have so many, if I’m honest. It depends on what you are looking for. I love ancient history, so Mary Beard’s SPQR was exceptional. For graphic novels, I would recommend the McElroy family’s Adventure Zone (3 brothers and their dad played Dungeons and Dragons and then turned it into a graphic novel. It’s exceptional). If you’re looking for classics, I would recommend Paradise Lost by John Milton. But my favorite book of 2020 has to be Mermaid Fillet by Mia Arderne. It’s a South African book written by a Capetonian, and anyone in South Africa would be able to identify with some part of the book. It’s not for the faint-hearted, though; there’s a lot of foul languages.
Things are changing very fast in the industry; how do you keep yourself updated. Please list techniques or newsletters, podcasts, events, etc.
I am subscribed to quite a few newsletters, such as CopyBlogger, Hootsuite, etc. I try to keep my media entertainment away from my job because my job is creating content and media. So listening to podcasts etc. is meant to be a relaxing away time for me. Techniques I use to stay updated are simple things like scrolling through social media (I follow 2 or 3 marketing accounts on Instagram, which regularly update their platforms with new marketing tips and tricks). My colleagues and I also keep each other updated on changes & other happenings in the online space.
Any advice about CVs?
When I look at a CV, I want to get a quick overview of the person first. Just a plain Word Document doesn’t cut it anymore, not for an industry like mine. The work experience and references on the CV must be relevant to the job being applied for; there’s nothing worse than having to sift through a page of references that don’t apply.
Advice for someone looking for a job?
Be patient. Things are tough now, and finding a job will be difficult, but many places need a good writer. After your interview, send an email saying thank you for the interview. It will heighten your esteem in the interviewer’s mind. Apply everywhere, but don’t make your applications generic.
Why do you think you were selected among other candidates?
My skill level and experience level matched what the interviewer was looking for, and my youth brought a different energy to the team.
Lessons from jobs that you couldn’t get.
Apply for jobs that you would be able to do. I applied for jobs that I knew nothing about, and I think the interviewers could see my discomfort.
Tag a few friends/colleagues whose stories you would like to see them share their story.
Maria Valente (@mermaidmariri on Instagram). She’s an actress and social media influencer.
Also read “Don’t let the imposter syndrome rule you. You deserve to be in the room you’ve earned your place in” – Aafiyah