July 2020: Graduating from Zoomiversity
2020 has been a remarkably virtual year. Due to the pandemic, my final university classes took place over Zoom rather than in lecture halls, and my student social media job moved from the open-plan office on campus to the dingy, cramped living room of my student house.
I graduated with a degree in English and Creative Writing ‘in absentia’, receiving a PDF of my degree certificate and forgoing the cap and gown – an anticlimactic end to my time in academia. But while at first the ‘new normal’ seemed depressing, I soon came to see it as an opportunity, not a drawback.
October 2020: New beginnings with Collective Content
After graduation, it was time to search for my first full-time job. For years I had dreamed about being a writer but the uncertain economic climate left me feeling pessimistic about my chances of entering the field.
That’s why I was so thrilled to find a role advertised by BCE for an apprenticeship at Collective Content, one that would need all of the skills I’d been building: writing, proofreading and social media.
I applied for their Content Executive role online. The virtual nature of this year soon cropped up, though, when I was invited to a Zoom interview with managing director Tony Hallett. Despite being virtual, conversation flowed easily and we soon saw that my experience matched his agency’s requirements. And, as you might guess from the fact that I am writing this post for the CCUK blog, I got the job.
While I’d never expected my first full-time role would be fully remote, this wasn’t my first experience of remote working. My dad has worked as a freelance writer from his home office for 15 years, and I’d worked part-time editing and social media jobs remotely. I’ve always been productive at home, and the prospect of avoiding rush-hour traffic, prim office wear and smart shoes was a real bonus.
Learning the ropes
Starting work at Collective Content meant joining the team’s WhatsApp chats, where I was immediately welcomed by my new colleagues, who ‘met’ me on a Zoom video call.
I began by shadowing Andy McCue, who in October taught me about our clients and checked in with me daily. I responded to as many WhatsApp requests for proof reading as I could and joined video calls to observe anything and everything in the background.
I then moved on to shadow Sylvia Carr Clebsch in November, who taught me the basics of writing case studies and interviewing via our messages and calls. We soon realised we both had backgrounds in creative writing – turns out you don’t need to meet at the water cooler to get to know each other better!
Developing new skills
The virtual nature of my work at CCUK hasn’t prevented me from learning new skills and gaining responsibilities. I’m now writing social media copy for clients, and designing a new Collective Content newsletter, shadowing another 2020 hire, Fanny Marshall. I’ve learned about tech topics such as automation and digital transformation by asking plenty of questions and researching online.
While five years ago I expected my first job to be in an office, I couldn’t be happier with this digital way of working. I’ve managed to get my foot in the door of a writing career while avoiding packed tube stations and train delays, and I can even join a meeting wearing slippers without getting funny looks. The buzz of the office is now the buzz of group chat notifications, and I’m grateful to be working with such a friendly, encouraging team.
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