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We’ve been speaking to people from all across the Greater Exeter area about their career journeys lately; from Jo Caine’s previous life as a travel rep to her career in recruitment, to Peter Totterdill’s childhood dreams of town planning to his present-day position as chair of the Poltimore House Trust alongside running his own business.

We at Exeter Works spoke to Jane Alexander, whose career in journalism has taken her from London to Manchester, to London again, and finally down to sunny Devon. Her childhood dreams of being a Blue Peter presenter (didn’t we all?!) led her to an English degree, after which she wasn’t sure what her next step would be. After working in a few London theatres, a chance meeting on a night out set her on her path.

Jane says: ‘One night I went to the opening of a club and met a freelance photographer at the bar. When he asked me what I did, I told him I wanted to find work as a freelance journalist.  He suggested we work together on a story and my first piece was published in Time Out.’  

From this chance meeting, Jane got a job at a magazine and began to get her work published in various newspapers and magazines, including the Evening Standard, Cosmopolitan, i-D, and Guardian. This led to a regular column in the Daily Mail and then to writing books – Jane has published over twenty books on wellness! 

Modern-day journalism isn’t quite the same as it was when Jane started her career, as she says: ‘Journalism isn’t as lucrative as it was and I have had to diversify a bit – now I write blog posts and website copy, and do some consulting for wellness brands.

Print journalism is a very different beast now to when I started.  Back then you didn’t need any qualifications – as long as you could write a good story, you were in.  It made for a very egalitarian career. Now it seems you have to have a degree and are expected to do internships, which can sometimes be unpaid.  Even so, pay is very low which makes it really hard for young people to get in on the ground level, unless they have parents supporting them. For anyone hoping to get into journalism, I’d recommend building contacts and getting as much experience as possible with any kind of publication. It will really stand you in good stead to build a career in journalism.’

From Blue Peter dreams to a published author, with a few pit stops along the way, Jane’s story is all about building, and making use of, a great network of people from all different backgrounds.

Whether you’ve got a career plan in mind or not, Exeter Works can help. For advice and guidance on all things careers; including CV writing, help with interviews, apprenticeship advice and more, get in touch with our advisers today. You can make an appointment to speak to one of our specially trained advisers, book your free Career Consultation, and find out more about training opportunities within the Greater Exeter area. Get in touch today and follow us on social media at the links available here.

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