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How I Got Here: Elle and Marie Claire’s Digital Lifestyle Editor on how aiming high leads to endless opportunities

WORDS BY ISABELLA WIGHT 

“Give everything a try and always be thinking of what you can do to stand out from the masses.”

Have you ever stalked someone on LinkedIn and wondered how on earth they managed to land that wildly impressive job? While the internet and social media might have us believe that our ideal job is a mere pipe dream, the individuals who have these jobs were, believe it or not, in the same position once, fantasising over someone else’s seemingly unattainable job.

But behind the awe-inspiring titles and the fancy work events lies a heck of a lot of hard work. So what lessons have been learnt and what skills have proved invaluable in getting them from daydreaming about success to actually being at the top of their industry?


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Welcome to How I Got Here, where we talk to women who are killing it in their respective fields about how they landed their awe-inspiring jobs, exploring the peaks and pits, the failures and the wins, and most importantly the knowledge, advice and practical tips they’ve gleaned along the way.

This week we speak to Lucy Cocoran, Digital Lifestyle Editor for Elle and Marie Claire Australia. After taking a writing class during her psychology degree, Lucy found herself itching to pursue a career in journalism. Using her university years as a period of experimentation, she made her way through several avenues of media, trying to find what fit her best.

Lucy’s career trajectory has been driven by passion and penchant for bold risk-taking. Her journey proves that each milestone and setback is invaluable when sculpting your career. Here’s what she learnt along the way.

What do you do and what’s your official job title? 

I’m the Digital Lifestyle Editor for Elle and Marie Claire. I also look after the affiliate and commercial content for both sites and run the Elle Instagram account.

Take us back to when you were first starting out. Did you study to get into your chosen field, or did you start out with an internship/entry-level role and climb the ladder? Tell us the story.

Like a lot of people, my path to becoming a journalist wasn’t exactly straightforward. After high school, I’d gained early acceptance to Macquarie University for a psychology degree, which I was really excited about. In my head, it revolved entirely around talking to people, which is what I love doing.

About a year in though, I realised it was actually very different to what I’d thought and is heavily maths and science-based (which is not my forte). After coming to that realisation, I started reconsidering if psychology was really what I wanted to do.

About halfway through my degree, I took a writing class which turned out to be a huge turning point. After that, I just knew I had to pursue a career in journalism. Shortly after, I switched my degree over to psychological science and had more elective space to take more writing classes. It didn’t take long to realise I’d made the right decision and everything felt like it had fallen into place. 

Despite studying psychology, all of my work experience revolved around media. This was mainly because you can’t start working as a psychologist until you’re fully qualified (which takes years), and the social aspect of media really appealed to me. Throughout university, I tried my hand at a wide range of roles, which really helped me figure out which avenue of media to pursue.

I started off working at a small PR company, before becoming a Marketing Junior and Customer Service Assistant at Modibodi, and then a Social Media Assistant at Pandora. For me, my career truly started when I landed my first major media gig at News Corp as a Digital Producer for Delicious. Once I walked through those big revolving doors and saw my name appear on the homepage in the lobby, I knew I had finally found my calling. 

What challenges/hurdles have you faced getting to where you are now? Can you tell us about one in particular? 

Being made redundant at the start of 2020. That was a horrific and very scary time for the entire industry. So many journalists were laid off and the wonderful site I’d been working on at the time (called Whimn) was shut down. This meant our whole team was staring down the barrel of unemployment during the peak of the pandemic. 

I had to take a minute to decide whether or not I wanted to stay in media, given how uncertain and volatile everything was. Luckily for me, I scored a newly-created role as eCommerce editor at Pedestrian Group not long after. It’s not an area I ever saw myself in, but it set me up with invaluable skills and a newfound appreciation for the many facets of journalism. Safe to say, I’m very glad I made the decision to stay, given where I’ve ended up. 

What do you want people to know about your industry/your role? 

Media is very much a people’s game and you should never underestimate how much people will remember. You never want your name to stick out in someone’s mind for the wrong reasons, so it really pays to be mindful of the impression you’re leaving. 

Even if you’re not interacting with someone directly, people always talk and news travels fast. Your name is your personal brand and your personal brand is everything, so always be kind and respectful to people! I credit a huge chunk of my success to the amazing people I’ve met who have gone out of their way to propel my career forward.

Whether it was my editors taking the time to nurture me as a writer, or an ex-colleague recommending me for a job, fostering good connections with people is one of the best career decisions you can make.

What’s the best part about your role?

Undoubtedly the people I get to work with every day, I’m honestly part of the most amazing, collaborative and supportive team. I’ve also found the most amazing mentor in Melissa Mason which I’m over the moon about. I couldn’t be more grateful to her not only for hiring me, but for teaching me to be a better writer and human being in general. Sometimes I have to pinch myself when I remember what I do, it all feels very surreal at times. I’m a very lucky girl! 

What would surprise people about your role?

Day-to-day I’d say I do less writing than people would probably think. There’s a lot of strategising and planning, along with answering the hundreds of emails that pour in. As much as I’d love to sit and write my little heart out all the time, there’s not always enough hours in the day for that.

That being said, I’m still churning out around three stories a day, but not as many long-form, opinion style pieces as I’d like in an ideal world. That’s the nature of the game though and I wouldn’t trade my job for the world. I always knew that the higher up you get, the less writing you do, so it’s something I was prepared for. 

What skills have served you well in your industry? 

Media is an industry that forces you outside your comfort zone all the time, but that’s where all the best stories happen! I’ve always been the first to put my hand up to bring an out-of-the-box idea to life, which is a quality that’s definitely helped me stand out and develop a unique voice as a writer. 

Developing a thick skin is another important skill you really need in this industry. Whether it’s receiving backlash online for an opinion piece you’ve written or having a pitch rejected, it’s really important not to take things personally or it’ll eat you alive. I’ve learned to take the emotion out of things before reacting and look at things through an objective lens. 

Oh, and never underestimate the power of networking. I’ve never been shy in reaching out to people, whether they’re on my team or a stranger on the internet. If you like something that someone has written, tell them! I’ve sent people messages just to let them know how much their writing resonated with me. It’s nice to support other people in the industry and you never know when your paths might cross in the future. 

What advice would you give to someone who wants to be in a role like yours one day? 

My best advice would be to give everything a try and always be thinking of what you can do to stand out from the masses. Most of the time, that involves putting yourself out there and soaking up all the experience you can. 

When I was 19, my friends spent their summer holidays at the beach, while I spent mine interning in the PR department at Saatchi & Saatchi. I had a great time, learnt a lot and scored an impressive reference on my resume, which actually helped me land my News Corp gig. 

If you’re really serious about a career in media, the best thing you can do is get out there. Having a colourful resume shows how hungry and passionate you are and it’ll set you apart from all the other people who want it just as much as you. 

What about a practical tip? 

Go for jobs you think might be out of your reach. I live by the whole ‘shoot for the moon because even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars’ mentality. So many people (particularly women), don’t go for jobs unless they meet every single aspect of the criteria. I’ve always been one to say, just go for it.

The worst answer you could possibly hear is ‘no’, and even then, is it really that bad? It’ll sting, but you’ll survive. Nobody wants to live their life wondering about what-ifs, so shoot your shot and who knows where you could end up!

@lucycocoran

Read the rest of the How I Got Here series here.

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