Whilst many work their whole lives to reach their dream job, Lucy E Cousins has spent her career achieving and reassessing her goals, redefining the concept of #dreamchaser.
“I think the idea of a dream job for me changes.” Lucy, 37, said, “Early in my career my dream was to work at Conde Nast Traveller, after that my dream job was to be editor of my own publication, then my dream was to work on a beautiful glossy magazine in Australia.”
Unlike many who strive for a career in publishing, Lucy didn’t study journalism at university, instead opting to follow her other passions at the time, archaeology and Spanish.
“I always smile at the thought of how those two very random subjects actually helped my career.”
“Archaeology taught me to question everything – from history books to eye-witness accounts to popular common beliefs… That, as it turns out, is integral to journalism.”
And she puts learning Spanish to the reason she fell in love with South America, where she spent some of her 20’s working as a journalist on a newspaper in Bolivia before chasing her dream job and moving to London.
“I emailed my favourite magazine Conde Nast Traveller in London and asked for a job! Ballsy I know, but I think you just have to put yourself out there sometimes.”
After achieving her goal, and with her love of South America still lingering, Lucy decided to chase her next venture as an editor of her own publication.
“I decided to move to Buenos Aires to set up my own English-language newspaper with a fellow journalist. The publication was in English but we had to promote and sell advertising in Spanish – quite the experience.”
Even with an incredible amount of experience under her belt (that most could only dream of!), Lucy still felt deflated after moving back to Sydney and struggling to land a job.
“I didn’t know anyone and my CV, though interesting, was different to everyone else’s… Over a number of months, I emailed every magazine I could find the details for (around 320 publications) asking for work. Most didn’t reply.”
Eventually Lucy secured freelance work and the world of connections worked it’s magic, allowing Lucy opportunities including being a part of the launch of magazine, Women’s Fitness.
“I was deputy for three months, then acting editor for the first year of its publication – we won best new launch at the Publishers Australia Excellence Awards.”
It was from there that Lucy became editor-in-chief of CLEO and DOLLY magazines, where she lead a team of 23 journalists, designers and stylists for almost three years, up until the closure of CLEO in 2016.
“Being at these two magazines was incredibly fun, stressful, busy and immersive – all at the same time!”
“I am so proud to have worked on them – I remember reading both as a teen and I imagined telling my 13-year-old self that I eventually edited them.”
And Lucy’s dream job now?
“Now? Well, my current dream job is what I am doing this year.”
Lucy is founder and editor of URBANSWEAT – a health and fitness guide all about getting active in Sydney.
“When I was editor of CLEO and DOLLY – I was incredibly busy and stressed and I wanted (needed) to exercise.”
Lacking time to search for classes, Lucy wished for there to be a one-stop website that would tell her what fitness-y things were going on in Sydney.
So when the announcement of the CLEO closure came, Lucy decided to branch into the digital sphere and turn the idea into URBANSWEAT.
“I love change and learning new things… Websites are very different beasts to print magazines I have found out!”
At URBANSWEAT, Lucy leads a team of fitness experts and journalists who are passionate about living a fit and healthy life, featuring topics such as the best farmer’s markets and parks to break a sweat in with your dog.
“We have reviews of fitness events, classes, studios plus a whole lot more on Sydney’s best runs, hikes, kayaking routes among other articles on nutrition, recipes, workout styles.”
“My next dream job? Who knows!”When you were 10, what did you want to be?
I always loved the idea of running my own business. When I was little I’d set up a shop for my sister to buy things in, when I was around 10 my friend Liz and I would make up little packs of leaves and flowers, whatever we could find, and we would try and sell them to our parents for 50c! I think I was always interested in creating something from nothing, which is still something I love the idea of today. For me, when I write an article and see it published, I feel amazed that I created it from ‘nothing’ and it became something. It’s a small idea, but one that I find really interesting.
If you had one day to try any job in the world, what would it be?
This is where the ‘mag girl’ in me comes out as I would love to work on US Vogue for a day as Anna Wintour’s deputy editor so I could find out exactly what she is like (nightmare?) and if I could soak up just some of her style and success… but not that haircut. Either that or spend the day as one of the Queen’s corgis, imagine sitting on the Queen’s satin couch, receiving pats from Prince Harry! Would not say not to that.
Let’s cut it down:
How does someone get into the industry? There are so many avenues these days, especially with the digital sphere growing. You can go to Uni and learn the basics, intern and prove your worth, or start a blog.
Do you need any formal qualifications? You don’t need a qualification but as the industry is becoming more and more competitive, a qualification does help. Not keen on Uni? Start a blog and get writing, or hunt down internships and gain experience that way.
Can this be my full-time job? Yep! According to PayScale Australia the average salary for a Journalist is AU$50,171 per year. But, don’t think that’s the only option for a writer. As Lucy states, more companies are in need of wordy people who can write. Explore all of your options.
Does Lucy have any advice? “I think I would recommend students to aim for a career in ‘publishing’ not just magazines.
I don’t believe that all magazines will close; the market will just be less saturated in the future. But there are lots of different avenues for writers – content-driven websites, advertising and PR companies, government bodies, fashion labels, beauty brands, travel insurance companies etc.
Blogs/ content are really important to a wide range of companies for better SEO and targeting, and there are hundreds of publications in a range of industries that need entertaining, accurate and energetic writers. The field is so exciting these days as there are so many ways to use your wordy skills.”