For Laura S, landing a dream job on the fashion desk of The Sun came down to one journalistic quality above all others – perseverance.
Now 28, she was working in public relations when she embarked on the nine month postgraduate course, but had always felt she was working on the “wrong side of the fence”.
Originally interested in the idea of pursuing a career in freelance and features writing, she came to the course with a determination from the outset to make the most of it.
“Throughout the course I started picking up on every contact I could possibly have and I really tried to put out as many feelers as I could.”
Even when the course was finished, the big break didn’t come easily. “I was always applying for work experience, speaking to as many people as I could, and submitting stuff for websites and magazines.”
In the end, her application for work experience at The Sun landed on the right desk at the right time. The paper had vacancies for a fashion writer and fashion assistant – and Christmas 2006 saw Laura taking her seat in the office at London’s best-known tabloid as a junior fashion writer and stylist.
It was something of a twist for someone who had never really thought of working on a paper – but once caught up in the hectic Wapping atmosphere, she was hooked.
“It’s quite a broad brief because we are news-led, and if there’s a story to cover, you do it,” she says.
Although she has no formal fashion training, it’s a subject which has always interested her – and although it’s a tough environment to work in, she has relished the challenges.
“If you prove yourself to them they give you a lot of opportunities,” she says. “You might get shouted out one day, but they will have forgotten it the next.”
Unlike the glossy magazines, Sun fashion shoots have to be turned round against very tight deadlines. Even so, the hectic schedule has been exciting, with highlights ranging from shoots with TV celebrities to a recent business trip to New York.
Even so, there are occasional flashbacks to the long evenings of coursework in Maida Vale: “Everybody in the office spends an hour writing up features ideas – which is just like the features exam!”
And the secret of success is simply not to give up, she believes. “Just try to do everything you can – even on the course I was trying to do something with the stuff we did for our tutors. You have to just keep plugging away.”
Nowadays, long hours and impossible deadlines are all part of the excitement. “When you end up in the right environment, the time doesn’t matter,” she says. “It took me a while to get there, but if the job feels right, that’s what makes it great.”