Currently the Community Manager and Head of Social Media at HELLO! Magazine, Yara holds a BSc in Sociology and an MA in Magazine Journalism. Since 2011, she has amassed an impressive amount of work experience - moving from short-term freelance posts to holding Editorial staff roles at the likes of the Guardian and Hearst Magazines. She was shortlisted for the Most Promising Postgraduate Journalist award at the 2014 Professional Publishers Association Awards.
You graduated with a BSc in Sociology in 2012, and swiftly moved on to an MA in Magazine Journalism at City University of London. At the same time, you juggled freelancing jobs and got a nomination for an Excellence in Volunteering Award by Southampton University. How did you get through this intense period, and how did your early work experience lend itself to your career development?
Yara: Whilst at university, I worked on the uni paper as Lifestyle Editor. This took up quite a lot of my time but I loved it, and it actually meant that I became used to juggling a large workload as I was doing it alongside my degree. I also spent every university holiday doing internships at magazines, which was where I gained some of the most useful training and insights into the publishing world. I tried to get in as much variation as possible because, although I was pretty certain that I wanted to go into showbiz journalism, I also wanted to know what else was out there. I did internships at magazines from Radio Times to Woman & Home, from Marie Claire to Heat, covering features, fashion, television for both online and print platforms. Without all this work experience, I doubt I would have gotten onto my MA course. The Magazine Journalism MA at City is pretty tough to get into, and they want you to have a lot of work experience on your CV when you apply.
You have been working at HELLO! Magazine as a Community Manager since early 2015. What does a typical day's work involve?
Yara: Working in social media means there’s no real ‘off’ switch. I’ll get urgent emails late at night and on weekends, so it’s not really a standard 9 – 5 job. The first thing I do when I get into work is look at the statistics from the previous day’s stories. I then go over the day’s story list and prioritise it according to what stories I believe will work for our readers and what won’t. I’ll constantly be tweeting and updating Facebook throughout the day (I am also head of social media for HELLO!’s sister glossy HELLO! Fashion Monthly), and I also have to ensure that Instagram is constantly being updated, too. On top of that, there’s a lot of emailing that goes on - HELLO! is an international brand, so I have to liaise with the community managers in other countries to make sure we’re all on the same page and share insights. Another big part of my job is outreach, so I spend a lot of time on that, as well as monitoring site traffic and ensuring we keep on top of trends.
You've worked across a range of roles - as a researcher, editor, press officer and now a community manager. Do you see this cross-discipline approach as unusual or do you think it is something which is quickly becoming the norm? Should a media student, for example, be looking to specialise in one particular discipline or take a more general, open approach?
Yara: I do think it’s unusual to progress from one thing to another the way I did. Through my jobs I kept discovering new, exciting things that I wanted to explore more of, so I bounced around a lot. This isn’t necessarily the sensible thing to do. There was a really crazy period when I was working 10am to 6pm at Best magazine and then on to night shifts at The Guardian and Observer, subbing and designing content for the iPad editions. I had barely any sleep for six months BUT I learnt a lot about different things. I am a firm believer that any skills you pick up are useful, even if you may not think so initially, so it was definitely worth it. If you are really set on what you want to do, there are still lots of different paths you can take to get there. I knew that I wanted to work in showbiz magazines, but wasn’t exactly sure on the sort of role I wanted. I got to where I am by trying out lots of different things and learning where my strengths lie and what I enjoy the most.
Finally, thinking back to your University days from 2009 until 2012, what advice would you give to your younger, student self, or to anyone else who is looking to work in a role similar to yours?
Yara: I was a little late taking to Twitter, and found it hard to see the benefits for a personal brand at first. Now, however, journalist’s personal social media accounts are becoming increasingly important to employers, so if I could go back and spend time building up my twitter following, I would.
Follow Yara on Twitter: @yarasilva1