Friday, 25 January 2013

Inspiration Friday

I love Mondays. I really do. I wake up most Monday mornings feeling refreshed, my armour polished and ready for tackling the world.

Fridays should be about home time and celebration, but by the time it gets to Friday I tend to be feeling somewhat drained. Give me a pile of pillows and a pair of pyjamas rather than a pub and a pint.

Friday, I am in need of inspiration. With this in mind I have decided to try and dedicate some time on a Friday to blogging about something that has inspired me. Because why wait until Monday to feel ready to tackle the world?
My aim in life is to one day give a TED talk. The speakers always talk with such conviction and knowledge, and I always find them incredibly inspiring. None so inspiring as this talk with Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook.

If you are a woman, I urge you to watch it. If you are not a woman, you should definitely still watch it.

Some key quotes from Sheryl Sandberg:

"Women systematically underestimate their own abilities."

I know what that feels like. Anyone who knows me well will know I am not an arrogant person, yet I am plagued by the fear of being perceived as arrogant. Self-depreciation is a habit as pervasive as thumb-sucking among children. And I would argue that it is a largely female habit.

But I don't want to be someone who hides behind their thumb. I want to be someone who is not afraid to own their accomplishments and to speak proudly and confidently about them.

 "Women do not negotiate for themselves in the workforce. 57% of men negotiate their starting salary. Only 7% of women do."

I discussed this with a male friend who said that when it came to his starting salary, he thought of what salary he wanted then doubled it and asked for that. The company didn't bat an eyelid. 

"I want my daughter to not just be successful but to be liked for her accomplishments."

A big problem comes from women themselves. Women are often suspicious of successful women. In fact not even just suspicious - they can just not like them. I think we all have a responsibility to one another, a responsibility that starts at congratulating our friends on their achievements rather than being envious of their success.

Things that would never have happened to a man...

A friend of mine is starting out in the film industry. A senior male colleague recently asked her what her career aims were. When she told him he said that he thought she was naive. She told him all the places she had worked and gained glowing recommendations. "You've been around haven't you?" was his response. Never would have happened to a man.

Another friend has recently got a job at a television company. When she got the job there was only one condition, "just don't go and get pregnant." Somehow I can't imagine the boss saying "now don't go and get your girlfriend pregant."

Things like this happen every day. But it doesn't have to be like that if we don't stand for it.

Sheryl Sandberg: thank you, I feel empowered.


P.S and yes, you can wear pink and enjoy baking and still be a strong and independent young woman.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Life and Libby

What Libby Did
(The things I've been up to during my blogging absence)

1) Stirring up trouble, campaigning hard and reading my name in Private Eye.

Me in Private Eye, 11th January

2) Drinking many cups of coffee and eating many slices of cake. 

3) Walking along the Southbank in the cold on my way to meetings at Somerset House. 
4) Wearing running shoes with my dress in the snow. Sod fashion, I'd rather have ugly feet than a broken neck from wearing dolly shoes on sheet ice.

5) Admiring the view from my flat window. 

6) Filming interviews about unpaid internships...

7) And watching one of them broadcasted on Al Jazeera online  (and finding out that they reach 250 million people).

Picture 35 

8) Writing short stories
9) Wearing two pairs of tights at once
10) Smiling


Wednesday, 9 January 2013

This is my first week working at Intern Aware

Why I joined Intern Aware

As soon as I decided that I wanted to be a journalist I realised two things. One: I would need to be in London. Two: I would need to work for free. I knew that internships would be essential for my CV, I knew these would mainly take place in London, and I knew I would probably not be paid for my time.

I began my internship story at 16. Using the money I had saved from my part-time job, I travelled to London and stayed with friends of friends whose homes I couch surfed between. I realise I was very fortunate – not everyone is so lucky and there is no way I could have afforded to stay in London otherwise or to pay the fare for the two hour commute from my hometown. At the weekends I got the train back to Dorset so I could keep up my Saturday job, heading back again on Sundays.

When I applied to university there was only one place for me: London. I saw the student loan that would come with studying there as my only way of affording to live there and to do more internships (because one apparently is not enough – I was being told that in order to stand out I would have to do more and more of these placements).

I am now in my final year of university. When I graduate I will need a full-time job, and it goes without saying that in order to pay my bills and afford to eat, it will have to be paid. Yet I am astounded by the amount of unpaid roles I see advertised in my industry, and by the assumption that if you really want to succeed, you should be prepared to work for free. It has been an eye opening experience. I have always worked hard, first at school, then on my internships and finally at university. I believed that hard work was the key to success, but I have come to see that in the current system wealth, in fact, is often the most important factor on your CV.

Some of my placements I would count as work experience, and for these I wouldn’t expect to be paid. Especially when I was 16 and just starting out, these placements were my way to observe what goes on behind the doors of a newspaper or magazine. But on a lot of my placements I was doing real work that contributed to a profit making company, work that a paid employee would have to do if the interns weren’t there. The more interns I speak to (because nearly all of my friends and peers have done unpaid internships), the more stories I hear of unpaid interns keeping industries running.

Internships have been my gateway into a world I would have had absolutely no access to otherwise. A country girl from Dorset doesn’t get to interview Rupert Everett and attend London Fashion Week by staying at home where the job opportunities are close to zero.

I decided to join Intern Aware’s campaign to try and give young people the experiences I have had regardless of their background, and in the hope that in the future hard-working graduates will not be asked to work for free.