You started your first business at 13 years old; what motivated you?
It was purely by accident; my dad’s a serial author and when we were younger and computers just came into fashion over the typewriter, he used to make me and my brothers and sisters type his handwritten manuscripts for him. After doing this for a while, one of us had the idea to turn it into a service we can offer other people in exchange for money and that was how “Lynx Typing Service” came into being. It didn’t last long though – we had to abandon it and focus on school work once the summer holidays were over.
What inspired you at university to spend your own money to write and publish a student magazine?
I was in my second year of university studying Creative Writing and Film Studies with the goal of becoming a journalist when I graduated. At the time I used to read a lot of magazines but at one point I got fed up with all the young people magazines about things that didn’t interest me – hair, make-up, fashion, relationships...I wanted to read something with a bit more substance but I couldn’t find anything out there that was aimed at young people so I decided to create my own. I tried and failed to get funding for the project so my only other option was to give up or pay for it myself. I used £2,000 of my student loan to print and distribute 1,000 copies of “Deeper” magazine. Unfortunately that ended up being the first and last issue of Deeper – it was a free magazine with no sustainability plans to I couldn’t finance another edition. I think I still have around 500 copies boxed up in my parents’ attic somewhere...
When did you start your writing career?
Probably as a kid – writing is something I’ve always been able to do and enjoyed doing from as far back as I can remember. But if we’re talking officially then it probably was just after I graduated when I landed my first real job in the media working as an editorial assistant at bfm film magazine in East London.
You have written for The Guardian newspaper, amongst others, how did that come about?
I always tell the young people I speak to not to knock work experience because it really can pay off. I did two weeks work experience with The Guardian when I was still in university and during that time, I made some good connections and I later found out, a very good impression, so when a few years later they opened a new role for ‘Junior Commissioning Editor’ on the G2 supplement, I was one of the few ex work experience people they called back to try out the paid position. It was great but by the end of it I realised newspaper journalism wasn’t what I wanted to do so I moved on. Fast forward a few more years and I’m now reconnected to The Guardian once more – this time as a regular contributor to their online careers network.
What was the very first book you wrote?
I got into CV and career advice through that role at bfm and after seven years of doing one to one CV makeovers and running CV workshops and seminars, I decided to put everything I know about CV writing into a book so it can reach more people than I would ever be able to on my own. I wrote 7 Keys to a Winning CV: How to create a CV that gets results at the beginning of January 2011 as part of my New Year’s resolution, and it was published nine months later in September 2011 by Harriman House. I am currently working on my second book which is aimed at graduate jobseekers for a release date of early 2013.
What do you still want to achieve professionally?
Right now my main focus is on careers so apart from writing about it on my own blog every week, I’d love to also have a careers column in a mainstream newspaper or magazine, offering useful career advice to jobseekers and helping people navigate their way to a fulfilling work life.
Do you have any advice for wannabe journalist or writers?
Yes – start blogging! If you have even the slightest bit of interest in pursuing a writing career, a blog is an absolute must. It’s a way for you to write regularly (which helps to improve your craft) and it’s also a way for you to expose your writing abilities to the world at large – you just never know who might be reading. Start a blog and if you don’t already have a Twitter Facebook and LinkedIn account to share it on, make that your second goal.
Where can we find out more about your work?
You can find out more about me, subscribe to my blog (for free) and get a copy of my book 7 Keys to a Winning CV by going to my website – www.mildredtalabi.com. I have a free 45-minute audio interview on “how to land that job with a winning CV” that I’d love to give you as a thank you for connecting.