|Edna Fernandes in Cuba. Source.|
Her talk with us - the eye-opening accounts of reporting the Arab Spring, the early days of the Iraq war and her meeting with the now-reformed, General Butt Naked (read this incredible article Edna wrote for the Daily Mail) - was the highlight of my week; Edna was a fantastic and engaging speaker, a particularly inspirational female journalist, with advice to match:
- Edna did loads of WORK EXPERIENCE in journalism, wherever she could get it. Her methodology was to make a list of her top 5 publications and work her way through the list, applying for voluntary positions."DOORS OPEN IF YOU'RE PERSISTENT."
- "NEVER TAKE NO FOR AN ANSWER."
- WRITE IN YOUR SPARE TIME. When acting as a general dogs body before working her way up the ranks, Edna would write 50 word briefs for articles, as practice.
- "DON'T WAIT FOR PEOPLE TO MAKE YOU OFFERS, BECAUSE NO ONE WILL." When it comes to getting work or advancing, often you may need to go out of your way and be assertive and ask for positions or new roles to take on so that you can continue to grow and develop as a journalist - but this can apply to any industry of work. "DON'T LIMIT YOURSELF."
- "BE HONEST WITH YOURSELF...DO YOU REALLY WANT AN INSTITUTE TO DEFINE YOU?" It is important to know when to say 'enough is enough' if your personal values are being challenged by your career.
- "DON'T DUMB DOWN YOUR OPINIONS. BE HUMBLE." This, as with the previous point, is important to prevent selling yourself short.
- "THINK ABOUT WHERE YOU WANT TO END UP." By looking to the future and your aspirations you can pinpoint key challenges you will need to overcome in order to succeed. Struggling to overcome the walls? Try tackling them from a different angle: "KEEP FINDING NEW WAYS TO GET WHAT YOU WANT."
- "SEEK MENTORS: JOURNALISTS ARE SUCKERS FOR COMPLIMENTS." Like with many other creative industries, who you know can often provide you that extra foot in the door. "NETWORK. MAKE CONTACTS." You never know when a new contact could come in handy.
- "GO TO EVENTS." Irregardless of your industry of work, staying on top of events and news in the industry could help you to become a more trusted professional, and keep you ahead of the competition.
- "TAKE AND STICK TO THE FACTS." Stay trustworthy. In these days of phone-hacking, the reputations of journalists are waning. Gossip may sell, but "IF IT'S TRUE THEY CAN'T SUE."
Edna also had some great little sayings that have stuck in my head, including that "IF IT'S TRUE, THEY CAN'T SUE." Here are some more bitesize pieces:
- "WITHOUT CREDIBILITY, YOU HAVE NOTHING."
- "YOU HAVE TO LIVE WITH WHATEVER YOU WRITE."
- "REPUTATION IS EVERYTHING."
Edna is great as she tells it how it is, and her advice can be applied outside of work to other areas of life too. I hope that was of some use.