Lessons learned

Twitter bios are becoming too far-fetched.

Okay, I always read people’s Twitter bios to see if I want to follow them, so I GET that you’ve gotta make it count, but writing your Twitter bio as if you’re a middle-aged editor of a website, when really you’re in your first year at university is really not the way to go.

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People big themselves up as much as possible in these snippet bios. I’ve done it too. When I had finally landed my first job in the industry, I was on it like a hawk changing my ‘aspiring journalist’ bio to ‘Editorial Assistant at PTA+ Magazine’. It somehow gives you a sense of achievement, and you no longer have to hide the fact you’re not ACTUALLY employed by dropping in words like ‘aspiring’ or ‘soon-to-be’, or better yet, hanging on to the fact you used to be a student… ‘English graduate.’ That’s all fine. That’s normal. That’s not what gets to me.

It’s when students, or those younger than that, ignore the fact they’re in full-time education, and use their bio to make out their a fully-employed journalists, writers or authors. It’s really good if you’re young and studying, and have had the passion to get out there and take on writing work (for free), but don’t hide the fact you’re only 17 years old, and although you might ‘edit’ an online magazine, you’re not quite up to editor-standard yet. A couple of years off, actually…

This ranty blog post has been a while in the making. It’s been something I started to write about before, and stopped because I sounded like a moody cow who needed a slap.

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My point stems from a conversation I had with an ‘editor’ back when I was on the job hunt (I say ‘editor’ as this is what she called herself in her Twitter bio). It was a website I was interested in, I was happy to write for free, I was also happy to meet up in their office (it was in London). However the said Twitter girl was NOT the editor of the whole site, she was a 16-year-old aspiring journalist who was doing an admin stint (work exp) at trying to get writers onto the site. And there’s me chatting to her as if she knows a thing or two about journalism.

Digital journalism has given many aspiring journalists the chance to take on fantastic opportunities – section editors of blogs, websites, and online magazines. Taking on these responsibilities early is not only great work experience, but also teaches young people to learn new skills that will really benefit them when they’re looking to go into full-time work. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, it’s not. But knowing that you’re a student (and still a teen) is pretty important, too. Why do people want to hide this? You’re going to be in full-time work for the rest of your life, grab onto the fact you’re a student while you can… and shout it out!

Case study #2: said girl who called herself a ‘freelance journalist’ was contacted by a local paper on running a story on the area she was shown as living, initially asking her rates and recent published articles. Embarrassingly, she had to email back to say that actually, she was still at school, and her reference to being a freelance journalist was actually the fact that she has written some articles for online websites. Oops.

Get it?


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