My Career Journey So Far


As most of you know, I run this blog alongside a full time job (hence my recent e-course, How To Grow Your Blog With A Full Time Job), but I've never really written about what I do for work before. So when I read this post by one of my the lovely Olivia, I was inspired to sit down and tell you all about my own career journey. It's ended up being a bit of a mammoth post, but I hope that some of you will find it interesting...

Let's start at the very beginning...

So, I think it makes most sense for me to start at the very beginning, right back at my uni days. For those of you who don't know, I originally moved to Leeds for uni, where I studied for a degree in Economics. I had the best time ever being a student, but I have to admit that I didn't love my course - it was very dry, and perhaps the biggest thing I learnt was that I didn't want to work in finance, which is the most popular career route for Economics grads.

Because I realised that early on in my course, I made a real effort during my degree to get as much work experience as possible in fields that I thought would be more suited to me. Alongside, my part time bar job, I temped with a digital marketing company in Leeds, supporting on projects for the likes of Disney and the BBC.

I also interned with a local independent boutique and online store called Paper Scissor Stone, where I had the opportunity to work on everything from buying to content production to events planning. It's also where I met the lovely Alice, and we had loads of fun prancing around fashion weeks together!

Being able to experience a couple of different roles and industries while still studying really helped me to prepare for the world of work. Not only did it give me an extra edge while applying for graduate jobs, but it also helped me to get a feel for what I did and didn't enjoy.

my career journey so farJoining the world of full time work...

Despite having tested the water of a few different career options while I was at uni, I still didn't feel 100% confident in making a decision about what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. So rather than trying to choose one area to focus on, I decided to put all my energy into applying for graduate schemes that offered experience in a few different departments.

After a couple of interviews and a long old assessment day, I was accepted onto a grad scheme with Hallmark Cards, based here in Yorkshire. The scheme was structured in a way that meant I got to work in three completely different roles over the course of two years, with tonnes of learning and development support offered alongside the day to day work.

The scheme was incredible for me and really helped me to get under the skin of my strengths and ambitions. I was given really meaty roles, but was supported throughout so I never felt overwhelmed. Plus, the company is super creative, and it was just generally a very fun environment to work in.

Once I finished my scheme, I applied for a couple of different roles in the business, before accepting a job leading a brand new team on a special project for M&S. It was a huge step for me, and so much of the role was out of my comfort zone, from managing important stakeholders across the business, to hopping on a flight to China alone, aged 24, to work on product sourcing. I spent around 12 months getting the team up and running, and I realised that you can learn a lot when you're willing to push yourself.

A fairy-tale career move...

Just as I was starting to think about my next career move, a fairy-tale proposal landed in my LinkedIn inbox - a job with none other than The Walt Disney Company! Up until that point I had no idea that Disney even had an office in Leeds, but after a couple of calls with the recruiter who had approached me, I was adamant that I was going to make the job mine.

I'm not sure I've ever prepped for an application process harder, but after two job interviews and a meet and greet with the team, I was officially a Disney cast member. I worked there as a commercial manager for three and a half years, managing the toys, stationery and publishing business with major retailers such as ASDA and Morrisons.

It was a fantastic job, and I had a hell of a lot of fun working with my ace team. Being part of such a huge company at a relatively early stage of my career taught me loads, and it was so inspiring to be surrounded by such amazing work and people. I got to be part of some pretty exciting projects and I also really enjoyed learning more about the retail industry.

I'm someone who craves change quite frequently, so I think the fact that I stayed with the company for three and a half years is testament to how much I enjoyed it there. However, by the end of last year I felt like I'd started to outgrow the job and was ready for a new challenge. Once again, a role appeared just at the right time (thanks universe), and I made the tough decision to leave just before Christmas.

my career journey so far To the here and now!

Which brings us to the here and now, and my current job. At the end of 2017 I made a huge change and took a leap into a brand new (to me) industry doing a much broader role. I'm now working as the Head of Retail and Expansion for a tech start up in the beauty industry and so far, I'm loving it!

It's been a big change for me in so many ways - I've transitioned from working at one of the biggest companies in the world to being part of a super small team, and I've had to adapt from a corporate mentality to a start up one. Everything is so much more fast-paced and dynamic, but now that I feel like I'm up and running at the same speed as everyone else, I'm thoroughly enjoying it.

It's exciting to be part of a business that's still figuring things out, and the role offers me so much more variety and autonomy than anything I've done before. I'm working with an incredible team and there are lots of exciting things in the pipeline too, so I can't see myself getting bored anytime soon.

Accepting this job has steered me away from a fairly traditional career path to one where the future is entirely unknown, so I'm looking forward to seeing what the next few years have in store for me. I worried a lot in the lead up that I might have made the wrong decision, but just a few months in, I've already learnt so much about myself and the work I enjoy. I really do feel like I'd struggle to go back to a more corporate job now - I love the pace and the "get shit done" attitude of start ups too much!


So, there you have it, my career journey so far. I told you it was a long one, didn't I?! Writing all of this down made me feel really proud of everything I've managed to achieve so far in my career already, and I can't wait to see what the future holds. 

Also, let me know if you've enjoyed this post and if you'd like to read more careers focussed content here on my blog!

CareersSophie Cliff1 Comment