21 February 2017 | By Billy Dowling-Reid
Ellen graduated with a first class BA in English Literature from the University of Manchester in 2014. She worked numerous internships during her student years, including stints with CollegeCandy and PetsPyjamas. She has worked as Senior Lifestyle Reporter with Metro.co.uk since 2015 and has been an Online News & Entertainment Writer with Cosmopolitan since 2014.
When did you first realise that you wanted to make a living from writing and what were the very first steps you took to achieve this? What, if anything, did you do to make the most of your student years?
Ellen: I realised that I wanted to make writing my career when I was 17, decided against being a doctor (my original plan), and realised that throughout my life, the thing that has always brought me joy is reading and writing. From then on I dedicated myself to getting as much experience as possible, so I'd be able to get a writing job out of university. For me, that meant doing an internship every summer plus freelance work during term time.
Taking into account job hunting, stop-gap jobs and developing your skills, what was your experience of making the transition from being an English Literature graduate to building the beginnings of a career in online lifestyle writing?
Ellen: It was a little tricky as a lot of jobs say they require a degree in journalism. I started out doing copywriting, then picked up freelance shifts at Cosmopolitan and Metro – which eventually turned into a full-time position.
What are some of the key things you have learned along the way to your current positions with both Metro and Cosmopolitan?
Ellen: I've learned that while natural writing talent will get you far, being a reliable writer who can take criticism, meets deadlines, brings new ideas, and rarely makes mistakes, you'll be an editor's dream – which makes them bring you back in. I've also learned that it pays to take risks and add your personality to everything you write. The pieces that have done well and made people remember me are the ones that have my weird humour, personal experience, or an angle that other people might not have added.
Thinking back to your university days beginning in 2011, what advice would you give to your younger, student self, or to anyone else looking to build a career similar to yours?
Ellen: Use your time off wisely. It can be tempting to spend the long summer holiday lounging on the sofa eating bags of tortilla chips, but picking up internships really pays off.
I'd tell myself to stop stressing about whether going straight from university into the working world, instead of getting a masters, was the 'right' choice. I've spoken to so many successful people who've taken either route and even without a journalism degree I've managed to land a job that I absolutely love just two years out of university.
I'd also recommend students join their university newspaper. I didn't, and I still regret missing out on that experience – if only so I had actually been able to chat to other aspiring journalists from my uni.
Oh, and if you like a journalist's work, always feel free to reach out and tell them. I always thought journalists would be too cool and busy to care about praise from a random student, but every time I've genuinely, honestly chatted to someone about their work they've been lovely and incredibly grateful. Everyone likes a little validation.
Follow Ellen on Twitter: @ellencscott. Check out her Metro archive here and her Cosmopolitan archive here.
15 reasons cat people are way hotter than dog people – Ellen C Scott
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I went on a blind date set up by an octopus because my dating life is in a shambles – Ellen C Scott
When it comes to mental illness, I’m still terrified of being labelled – Ellen C Scott
27 things only people who don’t like babies understand – Ellen C Scott