New Series - Young, Fierce Professional

I wanted to start off this series with a little bit of background as to why I wanted to write it in the first place.

Being a female twenty-something in today's society comes with a lot of backlash, and a lot of preconceived ideas. People expect you to either be on top of your game with a degree, infinite work experience and ready to work your butt off for the next 30 years or, they expect you to be willing to work for nothing, with no goals or aims, and probably on your way to 'not making the most of your potential'. There is also this view that young mums will never amount to anything, they put offspring before their career and they are set to be on the lower rungs of the career ladder for the rest of their lives.

I want to change that.

This series has been created to showcase young women, who are making the effort to be everything at once. Some may be working three jobs whilst also trying to start a career, some may already be in their chosen profession and working their way up. Some may have decided against a career and be doing other things with their time, and some may be mothers trying to find the balance of what they can do and what they can't do.

I'm really excited to start this series, and see where it goes. With that, I'd love to introduce our first Young Professional to you.

Below, Sophie answered some of my questions, if you'd like to read more?

Sophie, would you mind telling us a little about yourself?
Of course! I'm Sophie Holloway, I'm 23 and a Graphic Designer. For as long as I can remember I have been a creatively driven human and have always known that I belong in the creative industry. My Mum comes from a Graphic Design background so she's always supported my need to pave a career from my artistic abilities. Right now I'm working as a Creative Assistant to a YouTuber (which I ABSOLUTELY LOVE) and prior to my current position I was a Graphic Designer for a high street footwear retailer. In the midst of all this I've also spent some time running my own online homeware store which myself and my boyfriend built over a couple of years.

That's a busy schedule! What does an average week look like for you?
As a Creative Assistant to a YouTuber, my working week tends to be quite flexible. The time I spend commuting to London gives me a couple of hours in the mornings and evenings to switch off and read a book (I'm totally obsessed with Thrillers). My alarm goes off at 6am Monday to Friday. I don't leave the house until around 8am but I like to take 20 minutes to eat my breakfast and sip on a hot espresso (it has to be scalding hot otherwise I can't drink it!) I'll usually take our pup, Stanley for a quick walk around the block before hopping in my car and heading to the station. I tend to work until around 4:30/5pm before heading home for the day. 

I'll usually get home around 6:30 which is when I'll fit in a 20 minute run to clear my mind and make time to breathe in some fresh air by taking the dog for a walk around the park. Before I became a Creative Assistant I worked in a role that was all-consuming which meant I had hardly any down time from Monday to Friday. I'm especially grateful to have a few hours every evening to rest my body and mind. I think a lot of people forget how important it is to do that.

How did you land such a fun job?
I stumbled upon an Instagram post advertising the position as a Creative Assistant and I was instantly intrigued. Our business wasn't moving as quickly as we needed it to and I was craving something new and challenging to sink my teeth into. I applied thinking I'd never have a chance as I knew there would be thousands of applicants. A couple of weeks later and I was packing up my bag ready for my first day in my new job. In September I'll have been in this role for a year and it's been one of the best years of my life!

Being involved in the YouTube world must give you a ream of inspiration. What does your daily beauty routine consist of?
Makeup isn't my strong suit, I've never been great at knowing what looks good on me and how to apply it. Thankfully working with a YouTuber who is a beauty expert has given me a ton of useful tips and tricks so I'm slowly starting to get better. I'm very self conscious about my skin so wearing makeup helps to boost my confidence, although I wish I didn't have to rely on a layer of makeup to make me feel that way. I hate as females we've been conditioned to think that we need to look a certain way to be accepted in our society. I definitely need to learn to embrace my imperfections, we all have them! 

Do you think being a female has held you back in your career at all?
I'm incredibly grateful to be able to sit here and say that I've never experienced a situation in my career where being female has held me back in any way. Since this is a subject that I can't say that I've experienced, it doesn't seem fair for me to talk about such an important issue in our society. All I can say is that I've met a ton of successful, talented and strong women who continue to inspire and empower me every day. In 2017 female oppression shouldn't be happening but to know it is still present in our everyday life is heartbreaking.

Whats your power outfit, the clothes that make you feel bold and strong?
I don't necessarily have a power outfit but I definitely feel most powerful when I'm wearing something that I feel comfortable in. I like tucking an oversized linen shirt into a pair of good-fitting, tailored trousers. Mixing something figure-hugging with something quite masculine is what I'm most happy wearing. For me, comfort is confidence. 

Hear hear! Tell us, what has been your greatest achievement to date?
I think my current role is my greatest achievement to date. If you'd have told me 5 years ago that I'd be in the position I'm in I probably would have thought you were talking nonsense. It's not often I feel proud of something I've achieved but it definitely boosts my confidence to know it was only my hard work and determination that got me to where I am today. I love my job and I'm grateful to work with someone who's my friend as well as my boss. 

What advice would you give to your 16 year old self?
This is probably such a cliche answer but I would probably tell 16 year old me to stop doubting myself so much. Over the years I've learned that good things don't 'come to those who wait', but to those who work hard. The times that I've trusted in myself and my work are the times when exciting opportunities have presented themselves to me. It's all about believing in yourself (I know, super corny) and having the confidence to say 'I can do this'.

I don't think people should ever actively seek out a specific role, you never know what you might be drawn to or what opportunities will arise. If you see yourself in a Creative role then it's important to experiment; try your hand at drawing, pick up a camera and film a video, start piecing together some spreads for an imaginary magazine. Once you've realised what it is that makes you tick, focus on that area and finesse it to where you want it to be. If you're passionate about something, people will start to see that in the work that you produce and opportunities will arise. 

That's great advice! Where do you see yourself in five years' time?
I don't like to think too much about the future, instead I try to concentrate on the here and now. I was always afraid of change as a teen, but sometimes life throws things at you that you never thought you'd have to deal with and you find yourself having to embrace change. Nowadays, the unknown is something that excites and inspires me.

I definitely don't think that education is the 'be all' and 'end all' of success but it most definitely helps you to pave the way to a successful career. I never saw myself as a University Student but choosing to study for my degree was the best decision I could ever have made. My degree course didn't just teach me how to be a better designer, it taught me how to be an adult; how to communicate with people, how to work in a team and how to stick to deadlines. Not only that but being surrounded by like-minded people is inspiring and empowering.

Finally, who is your biggest fan, the one person who makes you feel as though you can achieve it all?
My Mum is definitely my biggest fan and the feeling is mutual.

Before I go I just want to say a huge thank you to Lo for asking me to be a part of this series. There's a phrase that I like which says 'When females support females, amazing things happen' and with this series, Lo encapsulates that completely. Thanks so much for your time Lo, I can't wait to hear stories from some amazing women! 

Thank you Sophie, you are truly inspiring!

You can find Sophie on Instagram, where she's currently touring Shanghai!

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