In our latest industry spotlight, we chat to Teenage Cancer Trust’s Music Coordinator Jen Walker about her career in the media, first as a music journalist with international mag Rock Sound, before transferring over to a well-respected national charity supporting the needs of teens with cancer. Jen talks about the importance of a degree, being nice and Twitter etiquette.
“The world doesn’t need to know that you’re hanging the washing out”
S] Can you talk to us about how you got your start in the music industry?
JW] “When I was about 15-years-old, I emailed the DJ at the under 18s club night that I used to go to with some requests and when he replied he asked whether I’d like to have a go at DJing myself! That led to other gigs and meeting a lot of very useful people along the way!”
S] Previously, you worked for Rock Sound – can you talk to us about how your job at Teenage Cancer Trust differs in terms of challenges?
JW] “When I was at Rock Sound there were a lot of egos to deal with externally and a lot of people who treated you as if you owed them something – dealing with people like that is exhausting and unpleasant. Now that I’m at Teenage Cancer Trust people realise they have a lot to be thankful for and tend to be a lot nicer!”
S] Can you talk us through a typical day in your life with Teenage Cancer Trust?
JW] “Each season has a different kind of typical day for the music team, but we start at 9:30am and I’ll spend the first hour replying to e-mails that I’ve received since the previous day and catching up on the music news. During the spring we’re manic with our shows at the Royal Albert Hall, in the summer we have a lot of festival activity so chances are we’re not based in the office. Quite often if we’re not at our desks we’re probably at one of our units showing a band, artist or celebrity around, introducing them to patients and telling them about the charity and the work that we do. It’s very inspiring.”
S] What about your journalism career – what’s the best advice you can give to a young writer looking to develop their own path?
JW] “Keep cuttings of all your published work and create a portfolio. Never turn up to an interview without it. Also, take note of the writing style for who you’re submitting your work to – the less subbing there is to do for the person publishing your piece, the better. You want to be used again.”
S] And what about working for Teenage Cancer Trust – what advice would you give to someone interested in working with such a prestigious charity in the future?
JW] “Be passionate and enthusiastic about the work you’re doing – know the facts and figures, who does what within the organisation and keep everyone up-to-date with your activity. It’s important to really sell the charity to people and you can’t do this if you haven’t got a clue what’s going on!”
S] How important do you think a degree is, versus experience, when it comes to getting a job in the music industry?
JW] “I studied Journalism at Staffordshire University and wouldn’t have got my job at Rock Sound had I not, as it was my first full-time job. My previous internships definitely helped but the fact that I’d spent three years working up to this position was extremely important. At Teenage Cancer Trust, though it wasn’t really relevant, the job required one. My experience was probably more important but I wouldn’t have got that without the degree – it was all relative really!”
S] What’s the best and most inspiring piece of advice that you yourself ever received?
JW] “Put a limit on your use of Twitter! Have a private life; the world doesn’t need to know that you’re hanging the washing out and eating a sandwich. Don’t try to be the face and voice of who you work for – narcissistic tendencies aren’t attractive and make you look unprofessional and desperate.”
S] When you’re having a really bad, or stressful day what keeps you motivated?
JW] “Andrew W.K!”
S] What’s your perfect soundtrack for a day in the office?
JW] “It’s very different to when I was at Rock Sound! Our tastes in the music team are quite varied so there’s a lot of Hall and Oates, Bernhoft, Gotye and Paul Weller. I can only get away with the heavier stuff when I’m working with the band or, no one else is around; my love of Mastodon isn’t particularly welcomed!”
For more information visit the official Teenage Cancer Trust website.