Bored of the endlessly depressing news about careers prospects for young people today? Finding that – although the pay gap is still very much a concern – you’re actually enjoying your job and feeling positive about making your way up the careers ladder? Maybe you’d like to feel motivated rather than deflated about your career? Then Professionelles is the blog for you. Set up by Natalie Johnson and Olivia Hind a couple of years after they graduated from the University of Sheffield, the blog features news, articles and interviews all designed to make young women feel inspired about the world of work.
When and why did you start blogging?
We graduated in 2010 and at the time, newspapers were full of gloomy headlines about a generation of graduates without any prospects. Warnings stated that we would be wallowing in debt and self-pity until we retired aged 90, but this didn’t reflect how we felt at all. We were (and are!) surrounded by young, smart and successful women, who were bucking the trends of unemployment and endless negativity.
After graduating, whenever we caught up with our female friends, the conversation always veered towards careers, salaries and promotions, rather than boys and bodycon. This seemed to be the same for everyone we knew, but while we devoured career profiles and advice, we found that lots of careers content in conventional media was aimed either at people who have already made it a few rungs up the career ladder, or current students. After lots of plotting and rounding up career profiles, we started Professionelles in August 2012 to try and address this.
What’s your blog about?
Professionelles profiles the daily working lives of women in their early twenties. We also offer careers advice that’s relevant to females in their first or second job after education (nothing here about juggling the school run with the boardroom!), and we also try to round-up further inspiration from across the web.
Who inspires you?
Spending our days reading and writing about the careers of other early twentysomethings is continually inspiring, and really makes us think harder and more critically about how we work ourselves. Tons of our friends are doing all sorts of excellent things both in and out of work, so spending time with them always gets our creative juices flowing. We’re also regularly inspired by our brilliant northern mothers who get more done before breakfast than we do all day, by other bloggers and by other women who are doing something different.
What’s your day job?
Olivia: I’m a public affairs consultant in London, focusing on healthcare policy.
Natalie: I’m a consumer PR account manager at a big integrated advertising agency.
What do your family and friends think about your blog?
Our families love it – Natalie’s mum has even had Professionelles mugs and phone covers made! If women in their fifties were our target demographic, we’d be golden. Our friends have been forced into liking the blog by being featured as career profiles; it’s pretty handy being surrounded by women with excellent jobs, but they’re all probably a bit fed up of us talking about it every time we meet up and using their birthday parties as fertile recruiting ground for new career profiles.
Do you read any other blogs?
O: I read a lot of news and current affairs as part of my job and I really struggle to find the time to fit in reading much of anything else! I love reading food and lifestyle blogs though – Salad Club is my current favourite (partly because I enjoy their outpost in Brixton Village so regularly), and I occasionally browse through The Londoner and Decorator’s Notebook.
N: I read so many blogs as part of my job – predominantly mummy, lifestyle and foodie blogs such as The Botanical Baker. In my spare time, Suri’s Burn Book is my absolute favourite pastime. It’s genius. I work in PR is also excellent (and by excellent, I mean hilarious). Miss Thrifty is also fantastic for money-saving tips and tricks.
How do you use Twitter and has it changed how you blog?
Natalie: Since I work in PR, social media is a huge part of my day job, so I’ve essentially started to treat Professionelles as a client in its own right. I’ve added it to my Hootsuite account so I can schedule tweets, and I refresh who we follow from the account on a daily basis. Since I work full time, I don’t get as much time as I would like to spend promoting Professionelles on Twitter, but it’s been unbelievably handy in helping us to make contact with potential career profiles. We’ve met some amazing women on Twitter, and we’ve also had a lot of reactive requests come through to us from ladies interested in featuring, so it really is an essential cog in how Professionelles works. We also Tweet all of the blogs and companies featured in Work Wide Web, which always goes down really well and has scored us a number of RTs on feeds with huge follower numbers.
What couldn’t you live without?
Olivia: My Filofax and my bed – double duvet, three blankets, six pillows and four cushions. Like sleeping in a cloud!
Natalie: My morning cup of tea. Don’t speak to me until the mug is empty.
How do you stay motivated?
Blogging with a friend is brilliant because when you really can’t be bothered to get your brain back into gear again when you get home from work, you know that you’re letting someone else down if you don’t bother – and when things are going well, it’s good to share the fun! That, and lots of coffee.
Typical blog wardrobe?
Olivia: Most of my blogging gets done in my lunch break, so the same as my work wardrobe! Lots of dresses from Whistles and blazers from Zara (and heels!).
Natalie: As Olivia said, we generally blog while we’re on lunch at our day jobs. I tend to wear jazzy trousers (you cannot beat patterned hareems; hello comfort), flats and a casual tee or jumper. It’s really relaxed in our office.
O: In reality, the sound of my colleagues eating lunch and BBC Parliament in the background. In my head, a mixture of Beyoncé, Bruce Springsteen, Bastille and Diana Ross.
N: Radio 1. It’s on ALL DAY, so at the moment while Fearne’s off, it’s a mixture of Sara Cox and Scott Mills – and the same songs that I heard on Grimmy’s show earlier the same day (and the day before…and the day before that…).
Favourite European city and why?
N: Ahh, so many to choose from, and Olivia and I are lucky enough to have visited lots of places there. I think I’d either have to say Budapest or Munich, because I like thermal spas, Goulash and steins of German beer.
O: I like Amsterdam lots – pretty but not pretentious, and you can cycle everywhere! I’m also a big fan of Budapest.
What do you think is the biggest problem in British society today and what is the most positive thing?
O: I work in politics so I’m pretty biased, but I think that the lack of engagement in politics (both formally and informally) amongst the public is a huge problem. I don’t think it’s anything new, but I do think it’s something that isn’t addressed enough, and I think that there are huge swathes of the population with a really poor understanding of how what goes on in Westminster, Brussels or across the globe impacts on their lives. I’d love to see politics lessons as part of the curriculum throughout school!
In terms of the positive, I think that the ongoing impact of the recession has had the unintended consequence of encouraging people to appreciate local businesses rather than global monoliths and think more sustainably about consumption – you really get a sense of this in London and hopefully it will continue.
Do you ever get blog block?
O: There are always days when blogging feels like a chore, but looking through old posts often sparks a burst of motivation! We keep a big list of post ideas which we add to whenever we’re inspired so we can always draw off that if we’re feeling stuck, which is helpful for when a post just isn’t going anywhere.
Is blogging a viable career?
It certainly has worked out for other bloggers! From our perspective, it’s certainly not an option at the moment. We run Professionelles as a hobby and we’re perfectly content with our day jobs, but it would definitely be nice to make some pocket money moving forwards. Further into the future, who knows?
Where do you see yourself in five years?
N: Hopefully I’ll be sailing around the Caribbean on my Sunseeker yacht. It’s certainly motivation to work hard! In reality, I’d like to be nearing the top of my game in PR and have worked abroad.
O: I’d like to be higher up the career ladder and better at doing grown up things like getting regular haircuts, poaching eggs and getting up early. I don’t like to plan too far ahead in case I miss out on an adventure!
Can you run in heels?
O: Without a doubt.
N: Only when I’m drunk.