My journey from a bakery to a materials magazine

In a short amount of time I went from a part time sales assistant to a news writer for an all-female editorial team – and I’ve never felt more empowered.

A year and a half I ago I was leaning on the counter of an empty bakery, waiting for customers to come rid me of my boredom and wishing the time away so I could go home and aimlessly apply for countless amounts of journalist jobs. I had the same routine, with different part time jobs, for over four years. I was stuck in a perpetual loop of minimum wage work and application rejections – the goal seemed more and more unattainable. I was broke and no closer towards my dream job.

That’s when I knew I had to move on to a monotonous job I had no interest in, or do something drastic. My face turned red and my hands clammed up as I sat in front of the Journalism Diversity Fund panel – I know in my mind that this was my last attempt. They accepted me.

There’s no way of saying the following without falling into a cliché, but the last six months genuinely changed my life. I massively underestimated the breadth of knowledge I would gain studying the fast-track course at News Associates, and the amount of opportunities both News Associates and JDF would bring me. My passion for journalism never faltered, but my confidence sprouted and for the first time in a very long time I believed that I was capable of becoming a journalist.

When the JDF first told me that I was getting my own mentor, I had no idea what to expect from it. I couldn’t get Mr Miyagi out of my head, and was anticipating a ‘wax on wax off’ session with my new sensei. It wasn’t until I had met my assigned mentor from the Financial Times that I realised just how invaluable he was going to be to me. He built my confidence, and gave great advice in what direction to take. By this point, I had never been so fired up and ready for my new career.

It didn’t take long. Two weeks after my course I was offered a job at the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining (IOM3) working on their Materials World magazine as a news writer. In just over a year I’ve gone from bagging up jammy donuts to managing and editing the news content for a publication many scientists, architects and engineers rely on for their dose of news and features.

Our editorial team is small, but all four of us are women writing articles in a field dominated by men, which feels pretty empowering. Their confidence in knowledge and their writing in STEM is inspiring, and two weeks in, it feels crazy how much I’ve picked up from them and how much I’ve learnt about such a technical field that I never thought I’d be able to get my head around. I’m finally where I knew I should be in my life – and it feels pretty damn good!

Shardell Joseph