£35 for a possible new career – worth it?

Posted by in Rants

This is the money I paid to go to the headquarters of Marie Claire for what they called “How to get into Magazines”. What was promised was an evening of champagne, canapés and career advice from Marie Claire’s editors. Sounded good, seeing as I have a journalism degree and have worked in the beauty industry for the last 4 years. Plus this was the first legitimate career idea I have had for the past god-knows-how-long.

My experience of events, certainly by L’Occitane’s standards, are flowing champagne, expensive food for everyone to graze on and more than anything, value for money compared to our ticket prices of a mere £10. This is basically the minimum I had in mind for an event run by such a high profile glossy magazine.

Kayleigh, a good friend of mine, agreed to get a ticket and come along with me – mainly for the promise of booze and a “goodie-bag” worth £55. I meet her at her office near Covent Garden and we wander over to MCHQ. Both of us starving, we stop off at a pub on Southbank and have a sandwich each, purely to not seem like such pigs when these promised canapés arrived. Scoffing my face with food doesn’t seem to be a fantastic way to make a good first impression, especially with a glossy.

We arrive into the building, find another 60 or so people all for the same event and make our way up to the 10th floor for champagne. I think it was anyway. We got herded into a tiny room (tiny for 60 people anyway) and handed a glass of bubbly. I soon found out I was allergic to this drink and started getting hot and itchy on my neck. I noticed some odd pot pourri on the windowsill. This was the selection of canapés. Some dusty corn snacks predominantly made of air. Thank goodness Kayleigh and I ate otherwise that selection of air would have been our dinner.

I grabbed a big glass of water and got half way through it before we were ushered out of this tiny room. All drinks were not allowed into the next room, so I had to put down my glass of water which was saving me from scratching my neck skin off and anyone who hadn’t finished their champagne – tough.

This next room was a Ryan Air lecture theatre. It was a dull grey room with banked seating, all covered in plastic imitation red leather – hence the reference to Ryan Air; nothing to do with being cramped and a overcoming feeling of death about the place.

In front of each chair was this “goodie bag”. Nothing particularly good about it. Inside – a sample set of Dermalogica’s face routine products, a nail varnish, eye-liner, and two lip glosses. Dermalogica – I shouldn’t really use, working for one of their main rivals in the business, the nail varnish and one lip gloss was Marie Claire’s own brand anyway, the eye-liner not to my taste and the last lip gloss being from L’Occitane – one which we actually don’t do any more. Fan-fucking-tastic. There was also a “helpful information pack” included, which was a cardboard wallet containing one A4 piece of paper telling us how amazing their mentoring scheme was. No contact details, no insider tips.

I really started to wonder whether the whole experience was worth it, whether it was going to carry on falling from its pretentious 10th floor offices and smack itself on the concrete below. And, of course, it fell.

There was a line-up of around 5 editors of different positions in the magazine, from the Editor in Chief to a Beauty Assistant. Each of them spent around 15 minutes telling us how they got into the business which is all very well on paper, but none of what they said was that relevant. The Beauty Assistant, for example, only got into her job because her CV got mixed up in the wrong pile and she got chosen for a job which she didn’t apply for. No real tips for the average Joe there, thanks a lot.

After listening to 5 life stories, we then had 5 minutes of questions. I managed to ask one, though I had a moment of reflection during that 1 second before they chose me. What if I fuck up asking this question? This could be the one chance I get to get an insider’s look into working in a glossy, have I thought this through? And by the time all that had gone through my head with a million and one scenarios which resulted in me kissing my possible fantasy career goodbye, it was my turn to speak. So I start shaking like a hyperactive child.

5 minutes later – after some pretentious pricks of girls ask ridiculous questions with name-dropping – just before the editors shot off and hid from the general public again, they dropped in that all insider tips that were mentioned in this event were going to be published online. I sat there in awe. Why the hell did I pay £35 to do all this when I could have got it all at home anyway? By the time that I had gotten out of my uncomfortable cheap airline seat, the editors had ran off.

I looked around at the other girls. Some of them really tried to dress to impress, almost as if you could read their little fantasy in their head. As if they would say “Hi, I saw how amazing you look with your generic Top Shop outfit and we here at Marie Claire thought, wow, we need to have that girl on the team, please start tomorrow where we’ll whisk you away to Milan for the weekend and you can pretend you’re in Ugly Betty”. Nggn.

So. Screw Marie Claire. I think I still ideally would like to work as a Beauty Writer/Assistant/whatnot however it will be definitely not with MC. If they cannot be bothered to put any effort into something which us consumers paid for then what would they be like as a company to work for? Christ on a bike. The only good that has come out of it is being able to look back on it and be thankful I went. Purely because if I didn’t, I would spend the next few years wondering “what if”. That’s it. Not because of the killer champagne, the dust mite canapés or the Ryan Air room. Fear of regret.

After all that, the score now is Heather 0 – 1 Career Hunting.


Heather is a Journalism graduate from Bangor University. Currently working with cosmetics brand L'Occitane, she is finding her feet in the world of work - if her feet were detached and hidden from her in a chained up bomb-proof safe.

  • Anonymous

    Pretty much yet another case of the business world opening their mouth to potential talent without thinking of the message.