Gemma Halliwell is a creative assistant at Roberts and Tregeur and, having started off her at the company as a social media intern, has worked her way up to the role she’s in now.
‘I started off only doing two short days a week but over the past year I’ve worked my way up and now get to have a proper say in what happens in the company,’ Gemma says, ‘I get to manage the events schedule, something I find exciting, do the majority of the marketing and handle all of the press enquiries.’
It’s also a role where she’s learnt a lot of specific knowledge. ‘I’ve learnt so much,’ she explains. ‘How to talk appropriately to important clients, how to organise event and get sponsorship. but mainly how to deal with stress. In my position now I’m organising events which people have actually paid for, so there’s a pressure to ensure that things run smoothly and everyone has an enjoyable yet memorable experience.’
As a member of FAD’s INTOFashion programme she was paired with Gemma Metheringham, a mentor who is currently creative director at LabelMix. ‘I think it’s great just being able to speak to someone with so much experience and who’s done it all,’ Gemma continues. ‘I’ve had a few opportunities and bumps since she’s been my mentor and I know that I’m able to e-mail her and she’ll offer to meet or call and talk things through.’ Gemma also attended a number of the INTOFashion masterclasses. ‘I really enjoyed listening to Jennie Becker who is head of events at Reward Style,’ she continues. ‘I want to get into events more so listening to what she had to say was really inspiring.’
It’s only when reflecting back on the way she was feeling before the INTOFashion programme and the impact it had on her workflow both professionally and personally, that the impact of it becomes clear, particularly after those ‘difficult and confusing’ first years after university. ‘I’d been graduated a year and hadn’t really managed to find anything except a three month unpaid internship,’ Gemma says. ‘I was on the verge of giving up and had lost a lot of confidence in my own ability. It felt like things were never going to happen.’
While bridging the gap from university to full-time employment is no doubt a challenge, both her experiences and the impact of INTOFashion has given her some strong advice for others. ‘Looking back I’d say don’t give up. Just keep going with what you love and you’ll get there eventually. Just make sure you’re staying creative. It’s easy to fall into a hole and get sucked into a job you’re not happy with so in your spare time make sure you’re getting out, going to galleries. Also see what extra things you can do in your current job that will help benefit you in the future. When I was working in a café, for example, I asked if I could take over their Instagram account.’
Gemma also advises, within the interview process itself, to ‘really do your research on a company when applying for a role, and know about the little things that they do. The main thing, though, is to be yourself!’