When I Grow Up, I Wanna Be...

One of the emails that I answer most frequently is about my career choice, how I got here and what's my job like. So instead of having you to muster up the courage to move away from being a voyeur to an actual person and emailing me, I thought I'd blog about it here.

I consider myself first and foremost as a writer, and then a stylist. Maybe I will come to a point in time when I stop styling and just focus on my writing, but that's way in the future.

Where It Began for Me

I have to admit I sorta stumbled into magazines - I went into Mass Communication wanting to pursue radio, but between my first and second year of school, we had to do a six-week internship, and I sat down and shamelessly emailed everybody I wanted to work with. If I was emailing radio stations, I'd send sound bites of projects I've done in school, if it were the newspapers or magazines, I'd email them articles I've written in school, or I'd whip up a story I think that would be appropriate for the beat or the section I was interested to contribute to. A few people replied, and after an interview at Coffeebean in Holland Village [I still remember what I was wearing!] with my editor, Phin Wong, I embarked on a six-week life-changing experience.

Until then, I had never worked so hard and looked forward to going to work everyday. After that internship, I continued freelancing for them, and through contacts and meeting people, I got more freelance gigs and the rest, as cliched as it sounds, is history.

How Do I Get into Styling?

  • Get an internship with a magazine or newspaper. It doesn't matter if your beat is not fashion for now, getting your foot in the industry means everything.
  • Be shameless. Make cold calls, ask friends of friends - stalk people if you have to. If you live in Singapore, you already know how small it is, which makes the degree of separation between you and someone who works in the industry much smaller. Ask around and you never know what you will find.
  • Assist an established stylist. You will work hard, you will break your back, but you will learn invaluable lessons and make contacts that you will need as a stylist.

What Should I Email My Potential Employers?

There have been times when I've blogged about looking for assistants and I have people who email me, or leave me a message and ask me what a CV is, or what should be found in a CV. Whether you're 16 or 21, you're old enough to be on the computer, and you clearly know how to use the Internet. Instead of wasting away time, why not google what you should put in a CV. It's not rocket science, but you also don't want to list down the number of Young Scientist badges you have collected in Primary school.

Your cover letter should not be generic, try and infuse your personality into it, and let your potential employers know why you want and deserve to be in fashion or the media industry. And most importantly, edit your work. I detest reading things that are spelt entirely in British English and then I come across typos or American spelling. Makes my toes curl, and not in a good way.

"I'm not as extroverted as Mass Communication students always seem to be; I'm not sure if I should apply because I will stick out like a sore thumb."

I'm not going to deny how important your coursemates are in Mass Comm, especially if you plan on going through the Diploma course I did in Ngee Ann Polytechnic. You will shed blood, sweat and tears with them, you'd want to strangle them, and you'd want to hug and kiss them. But the beauty about Mass Comm is that if you've been struggling all this time to find like-minded people who want to work towards the same goal, you'd find that there. At the end of the day, you also need to realise that you're doing the course for yourself and not for anybody else.

The Reality

I'm not going to lie, or going to simply tell you how amazing my job is without telling you the whole picture. I have paid my dues - I have been paid $200 a month for months to work insane hours just to have my name in print. I have worked for free and have had clothes thrown in my face by a stylist I assisted just because there were wrinkles at the bottom of the gown. It is a bitchy, cut-throat industry and that will probably never change.

What has changed in the past year or so is the industry itself. Since the recession, hundreds of magazines and publishing houses all over the world have closed its doors leaving thousands of writers, editors, graphic designers, stylists, and so many in fashion and media jobless. And the truth is, while the economy will recover, what has happened to the media industry during the recession will deter investors from putting money into new titles.

I met someone who was one of the editors of the New York Times, got laid off last year, and is still jobless today. It's a scary, cut-throat world out there - and while it may not happen tomorrow, there will come a point in time when there will only be the top handful of magazines in the world - the VOGUEs, the GQs, the Wallpapers, the ELLEs. Yes, you may find an internship and spend the rest of your life in CLEO, but do you really want to cast gay boys year after year and put them in the 50 "Most Eligible" Bachelors list? I think not.

I have to also add that you ain't earning a lot of money in this industry at all. Trust me on that one. :o)

And if have any more questions, feel free to drop me an email at faz@thedramadiaries.com, or leave me a note here! Good luck!