In the Summer 2018 issue of 17 Degrees Magazine, I was asked to write my own column to introduce myself to the readers. Here it is, reprinted in full, with permission from 17 Degrees Magazine.
Hello readers! In this first ‘meet the team’ column I want to introduce myself and let you all get to know a bit about me, and what I do here at 17 Degrees.
I’m the Associate Editor for the magazine, and my main role is to edit and polish the articles into their final versions before they go off to print. I also write features for the magazine, which involves meeting with local business owners and community groups and learning all about what they do.
I wanted to tell you a little bit about my career journey to this point, as I know as you are reading this, a lot of our younger readers will be eagerly awaiting exam results and making huge decisions about their futures.
I didn’t always know that I wanted to have a career in writing. I think one of the hardest tasks for young people is deciding what you want to do with your life. As a teenager I didn’t really have any solid career plans, so I randomly decided to study astrophysics at St Andrews University.
It was a terrible decision, and I dropped out after two years. Not only had I made the wrong course choice, but I really struggled to fit in at St Andrews, coming from a working-class background in Alloa and suddenly being thrust into a whole new world where I was associating with Tom Hanks’ daughter and Prince William!
I later went back and completed an MA in English Literature and History at Glasgow, but I’ll openly admit I HATED being a student. I dragged myself through six years of university because I thought that having a degree would guarantee me a job at the end of it all. It didn’t.
Over the years I have worked in a variety of weird and wonderful jobs – I’ve been a bank teller, a waitress, a tanning salon assistant, a data analyst, I’ve sold sweets on a market stall, I once even started my own vintage clothing business… the list goes on! I think that’s where I came unstuck at so many interviews, because some of the other candidates had work experience in their chosen field and had definite ideas of what they wanted. Graduate recruitment can be highly competitive, and it was a no-brainer that the companies would hire those candidates every time.
One of the best pieces of advice I ever received was to find something you love doing, because after you leave school you will potentially be doing the same thing for 40+ years. If you love your work, then getting up on a Monday morning is never a drag: finding your passion is key.
I got into writing a few years after leaving university. I was stuck in a rut in a dreary office job, and decided to do something about it. So I started doing freelance writing jobs for blogs and websites during the evening, often staying up until the early hours and then starting work at 8am the next day. It was a tough few months, but eventually I started earning enough to be able to quit the job that I hated so much. Walking out the office on that final day was one of the best feelings of my life!
Of course, after discovering my passion I threw myself headfirst into every aspect of writing. As well as freelancing work, I also started writing a novel; I formed a local writing group – Rooftop Writers in Falkirk; I recently released a poetry booklet; and I have built up a whole network of writers from across Forth Valley and beyond.
I first met Caroline [Publisher, 17 Degrees] through social media. I saw an advert for a new local magazine launching in Falkirk, and I decided to get in touch. The rest, they say, is history. I’ve been involved with 17 Degrees since the beginning, and I have loved every minute of it so far. I recently had a conversation with Caroline where she said she had a very strong feeling about me from the start. My surname is Wallace, which is also the name of Caroline’s late husband, who had only recently died when Caroline and I first met – it was as though everything was destined to be.
For me, success isn’t about making a six figure salary, having millions of Instagram followers or having the best qualifications on paper. My idea of success means having a job that I love, being able to choose hours that fit around my family, and having a network of supportive people around me.
Some people are lucky enough to land their dream job straight away; for most of us though, it takes a lot of hard work and dedication. Don’t let anyone ever stand in your way, or tell you that you can’t do something because of your background, your level of education, your skin colour or your gender. Find your passion, keep working hard and eventually you will get there…
You never know, one day we might even interview you for a future issue of 17 Degrees!