Emily Bodkin is a Copywriter at Hudson’s Bay Company, but a career journey is never straight forward. We asked Emily to explain her career journey; from school, to education, to internships and finally to work.
How did Emily find the whole Leaving Cert process?
“Overall, I found the Leaving Cert process quite stressful. Although I was a good student, I really felt the weight of expectation hanging over me. The setup of the Leaving Cert is unintentionally designed to create stress as it is mainly about getting the points you need for third-level education. I was lucky that I had received some excellent advice and support from teachers and families over the course of the year as it got me through the exams.
A good piece of advice came from one of my teachers at the start of 5th year; his words were something attune to, ‘You need to put the foot on the accelerator from now until your Mocks, that’s where the real work is done.’ I still think it was excellent advice as most students aren’t aware of how draining the exams themselves will be. On one given day, you could sit two 2 and a half hour papers and the mental and physical toll it will take cannot be stressed enough; you won’t be able to cram in new information the night before a paper.”
How did she figure out the perfect CAO choices?
“I loved writing and had been reading various magazines/newspapers since I was a child, so I knew I wanted to work in that field in some capacity. For me, the best route to take was a journalism degree. However, I equally enjoyed English and History and was interested in pursuing an arts degree with the hope of becoming a teacher.
I think that too often, students are fixated on the idea of doing a certain course or going to a particular university, but they don't do enough digging around to see what a course will entail; what the expectations are going to be; what the modules will involve; or what the workload will be like.
Ultimately, after a lot of consideration and research, I decided that I wanted to study Journalism in DCU, as it was the course that was the most appealing and stimulating to me.”
What advice would Emily give regarding the Leaving Cert and CAO?
“The only advice I would give in relation to the CAO is to put your most desired courses as your first choices, even if you think the points may be a little out of reach. Demand can change every year for courses (unless it's medicine/law/dentistry) so the points can vary on an annual basis. The worst that can happen is that you miss out on your first choice, but you should always have a good alternative option available.
If I could go back and do things differently, the only thing I would change is my attitude. I lacked confidence in my abilities and doubted whether I would get what I needed to go college. In hindsight, it was ridiculous, but insecurity and self-doubt get the best of most people. To anyone doing exams, just have faith yourself and cut yourself some slack.”
How did she get her foot on the career ladder?
“I finished up in DCU in 2014 and went on to do a summer internship in Hot Press Magazine. After I finished up there, I freelanced for a short time and worked in market research, helping create research-based presentations for the Irish Independent and Irish Rail. I then worked briefly in the Sunday World Online before settling into a permanent position as a Copywriter for IDG, one of the world's largest media and data companies.
I'm gradually building up my career. It was a slow burner at the beginning, I must admit, and it's still a work in progress. I've shifted away from a traditional journalism career but still occasionally freelance. Even during my course, I came to the realisation that I preferred the writing side of journalism and wasn't suited to reporting, hence the change to copywriting. Like most people who choose a career in media/communications, the path to success is never straightforward. It takes time to get experience, work in entry-level positions and build up a network so that you can find more opportunities out there.”
What does a typical day as a copyrighter involve for Emily?
“The purpose of my job is to manage the copy that is completed by our vendors, so every morning I provide them with feedback on the previous day's work and answer any questions/queries they have. After that I'll set about checking/editing the copy that was done in the morning and then take notes on areas that need to be improved/looked at further. Following that process, I then do a spot check of the copy to ensure the correct standards are being maintained. In the afternoons I organise the copy that needs to be done for the next day and send it on to our vendors. Along with my daily duties, I also undertake projects to enhance the quality of the writing and to stay on top of trends.”
What does she enjoy most about her job?
“There are many things I enjoy about the role but personally, I get the most satisfaction when someone's work has improved after they have taken my feedback on board or followed an instruction. The whole point of my job is to help others maximise their writing ability, and it is always a great thing to see when people are positively affected by my advice.”
What advice would Emily give to someone who was interested in copywriting/editing?
“The most important thing is to keep your writing skills fresh and sharp. Make sure to write everyday (not just on social media) and read as often as you can. There are various courses you can do to improve your ability and give you the skill set that employers desire.
I recommend investing in a digital marketing course if you wish to work in creative copywriting, as you need to know what phrases or words will have more of an impact on customers/clients. A Journalism or an English degree is perfect for any proof-reading/editing work also. Communication jobs in Ireland are tough to break into, so it may be also worth your time looking abroad for work as the job pool is much larger.
The key factor in being successful in a job is how much you love what you are doing. If you're passionate about the work you partake in, it reflects in how you approach the role and how dedicated you will be to your career.”