She Interns: The Office Perks

Style #4

Top: Urban Outfitters
Skirt: Urban Outfitters
Jacket: As Before,  Zara
Clutch Bag: fcuk
Shoes: Shilin Night Market, Taipei

THE OFFICE

Now thoroughly in the routine of my morning commute and office life, I , rather predictably, nearly miss the train to work. Typical that I was thinking only the  night before how natural this early morning routine was feeling. Well, after that debacle  I gather myself together to my usual, only slightly less ridiculous self to work.

The CMPR Office is one real perk to this week’s work experience. I’m slightly obsessed with colour co-ordination, and entering through the offices heavy cream door,  what it beheld can only be described as my kind of paradise. Those who know me, know that my live colour-scheme is pink and green; from the pastel green wall in my bedroom with matching mini-polka pink green curtains to my two favourite pink and green mechanical pencils it’s a sickeningly cute combination-obsession that’s depths I try to hide from the public eye.  Well, I have finally found an environment in which I can bathe in pink and green glory: the CMPR Office.

THE WORK

Today after finishing two written information bubble, the work-load took a side-step from PR management, to the realities of running the firm – and that meant getting to grips with the office ebay account (!!). I was pretty surprised to find out about it – what on earth would a PR company use ebay for? How is that going to reach clients and customers? Well, turns out that it’s a fabulous idea, and here’s why: the company perks. As it turns out, being a small office of highly specialised PR staff in a city like Belfast is as good as being a celebrity. MD Cathy lands Q&A radio segments – one of which I was tensed in the office for, as it churned the staff into a research frenzy for the 30min warning we got before airing – magazine interviews, fashion event invites, screening invites, beauty products and much more in return for being Belfast’s first port of call for all needs editorial or runway related.  So where does ebay come into this? Well, such a small office can only need so many lovely (and expensive) products and any duplicates can be sold online. Personally I’ve never quite got to grips with buying on the site, although I’ve been on the wishful cusp of learning to sell on it many a time, so this was a timely intoduction! This week we were selling lots of Cathy’s daughters clothes, BNWT (brand new with tags to those not in on ebay acronyms).

I think I’m a long way off having children yet, but I nearly keeled over with how TINY AND CUTE the clothes were.

THE PERKS

And speaking of perks, you may have wondered with the mysterious white bag was in my Style #3 Photo  (or not, but I’ll let it slide…): on Wednesday I was given a bag of perks for little me!

I. Nearly. Spontaneously. Combusted.

I mean, seriously struggled to contain my excitement and gracefully express my gratefulness.

I did not know this happened in real life.

So my lil’ bag of goodies contained:

The Body Shop Morning Mist
Aveda Pure Abundance Hair Style Prep
Benefit Hydra-Smooth Lip Colour in
Nuxe Moisturising Lip Stick
Smashbox Girls on Film Blusher
Dior 3 Colours Ready-to-Wear Smoky Eyes Palette
Jason Shankey Heat-Proof Straightner Carrier

All I can say is a massive THANK YOU CMPR for my lovely gift!

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She Interns: City Heat

Double Style #3

Trousers: Primark, £11
Top: Urban Outfitters (turned inside out and belted) £5
Shoes: As Before Primark, £10
Bag: As Before Urban Outfitters, £23.50

CITY HEAT

Wednesday is a tipping point. Situated delightfully mid-working week, it has the power to drag every second tortuously across the face of the clock with pain that fills every cell with dread for the rest of the week – or disappear through keyboard-clicking fingers. It was at 7AM this particular Wednesday that the first ominous signs pierced my curtains: it was sunny at 7AM.

This is not good. Sun at seven, can only logically mean by twelve, the stifling heat of city is as thick and oppressive as a stale bap; we Northern Irish and our cities are not built for the sun. As I walk to my train, there’s a smell in the air that’s foreign to the region and it’s one that rises throughout the day: baking concrete, exhaust, asphalt, swift dry gusts of wind and the slight and unusual sourness of rubbish in hot. In the Office, these smells are dimmed somewhat by the distracting lack of air-conditioning, and despite the double doors thrown open in desperation to coax in an in-complainant breeze, it’s still and warm. I feel a staggering sympathy for menopausal women everywhere; heatwave is a permanent hot flush.

Wide Windows

THE WORK

But, despite the almost unbearable heat, Wednesday is a packed with fabulous work and breaks. I start the morning writing an info bubble for a magazine to give some press coverage to a local upcoming event. From one writing task to another, I’m given the positively delightful job of cataloguing and summarising AW/AF Campaigns and Hair/Beauty trends to prepare for Belfast’s upcoming Fashion Week, the launch of which is less than a month away. Another half-Asian, half-Northern Irish intern in today, who’s absolutely lovely, baffles me with her mere presence – clearly I’m not unique as I thought… Worrying. Nevertheless, we traipse up to Botanic on our lunch break to run clothes back from photoshoots and I meet a friend for a sweltering lunch by the Belfast Fish (my #1 favourite attraction in Belfast).

Returning to the office, I get straight back into my all-engrossing fashion work until the office breaks for a group clean! I love that they do this themselves, as it gives a homely sense of ownership to the office space. Office sparkling, and I’m released into the hot, city jungle for my commute home.

How am I half-way through already??

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She Interns: The Commute

Jeans: Topshop , £40
Shoes: Clarks , £32
Jacket: Zara, £30
Bag: As Before Urban Outfitters, £22.50
Top: Own Acrylic Print, Fabric Top, Zara, £5 Sale

TOTAL OUTFIT: £129.50

THE COMMUTE

Yesterday was the second proper commute of my life, and as I sit here typing, I’m making my third, joining what looks like a futuristic, dystopia-imminent horror movie. The train is pretty full on this pre 9am service, the air is hot and muggy from many suits pressed into unfortunately upholstered seats, and the 70 bodies exhaling in this compartment are all jacked into various devices. It’s all feeling very Watchowski Bros (usefully a brother and sister) and ominous to my Tuesday morning mindset, as I realise that 7AM is the weeks’ routine beginning; from the alarm I’m in the system and ‘online’ now that I have an iPhone. Mild sympathy is what I’m used to when I whip out my phone, until Sunday a nifty little Sony Ericsson k500i, but my fairly shockingly efficient iPhone fits right into the commuter life, where all my train companions sit in an early morning zonk with their consoles.

It’s the same pang of regret I get when I pull out my beautiful matt Kindle, another bewildering technology update for my 21st year; it’s not necessarily just nostalgia for childhood things, but the reluctance to feel the strangeness of holding items that, as far as I used to be concerned, were for the ilk of Captain Janeway and her starship crew. At least I can thank my Dad for his Star Trek education, or else, as it is, I’d be completely unprepared to accept these gizmos*. Even in the office, the use of email over speech is at first baffling, but again a blindingly efficient way of tracking responsibility, decisions, deadlines and documents.

Maybe it’s just that the edgy ear cuff I’ve taken to wearing this week that’s rubbing off on me.

THE WORK LIFE

Back into real work – it’s the day after and I’m typing up the work that I covered yesterday, which involved handing in the finished article I was writing yesterday, and getting straight into learning about client’s media booklets, a way to store their press coverage and provide not only a record of useful contacts and a backlog of old work, but provides a tangible demonstration of the company’s output ie. The Results. After helping compile a media booklet of my own, I was free to take an lunch break with my trusty packed box and kindle. Belfast is truly baking in this heatwave, and the hour is a welcome break from the office and shiny screens (which are nigglingly weirding me out today like it’s some episode of Black Mirror).

When I return, seeking shelter from the heat, I chat to Bob, the absolute old gentleman who looks after the permanent War Memorial Exhibition down stairs; can’t hear a thing, bless him, but we manage to communicate some form of happy friendliness regardless! I’m sent on errands with a long-term intern of the office, and she affirms some fears I’ve long suspected of the unpaid intern world (which is a self-perpetuating, studentential nightmare in certain respects) but encourages me to keep at it. Thank goodness for to meeting people on the same path for some thoughtsharing and morale-boosting. I spend the afternoon cataloguing some goodies the company receives from beauty brands and am released to chirpy freedom to catch the 1714 train home.

Today I donned my work clothes and played the (reluctant) commuter, scoped out the industry and took a sneaky peak into the perks cupboard.
It’s looking like staying in education forever is the key. Sorry Parents…?

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* Some academics have given this feeling a fancy name: premediation. Cheers Prof. Grusin!
You can check out his blog, Premediation, or his academic paper of the same title via Project Muse or JSTOR.

Painted Prints: Does it come in acrylic?

One of the tops that stars as a style piece in my ‘She Interns‘ feature is a top that I made a long time ago, and I thought I’d take a second to give it it’s five minutes of fame. The top itself was bought it a Zara sale for £5 when I think I was about 17, but was so sheer and low cut (bought in a strange moment of complete common sense lapse that sometimes occurs when I see cheap clothes) that it got put to the back of summer drawer.

It reemerged one fateful pre-clubbing night when I was gripped by utter I-have-NO-CLOTHES-desperation, and in mad panic, I opened my acrylics that were in constant use when I was still a teen grabbed a pencil and started sketching on the fabric. The whole nautical theme was every that spring, so a quick going over with black acrylic paint – much to the bafflement of the girlfriends who (quite reasonably) didn’t quite know how to respond to, “I’ll be ready in 10, I’m painting my top” – and I made it out. Photo evidence exists, and the top looks fine; the wearer, on the other hand is happier in the past I think…

Paintbrush Magic

It’s not quite the quality of the work on the Great British Sewing Bee or Project Runway, but it just goes to prove that you really can just do it yourself.
Fancy that.

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She Interns: The Desk Life

 

Shirt: £6, Beijing Silk Market
Jeans: £13.50*, Topshop , Sale
Bag: £22.50*, Urban Outfitters Sale
Jumper: £12.99, Missguided.com
Shoes: £10, Primark

TOTAL OUTFIT:  £64.99
*+ 10% student discount

THE DESK LIFE

The first day’s done and dusted, and there is one thing of which I am absolutely certain: I am not used to sitting at a desk. My eyes watered, my head pounded, my back ached and boy, was my butt numb; it seemed like everything of my physical body was pitching revolution at being confined to a chair for a measly six hours.

I have an immense respect for the 9-5ers. In hindsight of my working past, I’ve been extremely lucky to have worked very active jobs running photosets, shop-assistanting, acting as cater-waiter, art and english teacher, costume assistant, MUA and model… all roles free to spontaneity and standing perpendicular to the ground. That’s not to say I haven’t interned before; this week counts as my fourth set of work experience to date, but it’s only now that I’m realising the similarity these experiences actually have to academic life –  they always said university prepares you for the working world, but who knew they’d be right? That body-numb feeling is one that I’ve only felt otherwise in essay-crisis mode, a period of life that I slip in and out of with ease at University. My body may be numb, but (and let’s not linger on that particular pun) my brain is buzzing.

THE WORK LIFE

There’s a glossy sheen to everything on the PR floor, from the thick acrylic surfaces and shocking pink curtains to the original Terry Bradley (again, cerise) on the wall. It’s not a literal sheen, although perspiration wouldn’t be surprising from solid objects at the temperatures Belfast is reaching this week, but a shimmer that perhaps can only be felt by a bambi-eyed intern. The shimmer of a ‘real-life’ working office, of purpose and efficiency that made me feel goggly, left-handed (I’m not) and flustered as I tried my best not to bumble about my white desk in the open plan office – where everything is visible, especially ‘here’s-the-new-one’ bag-rustling and chair fumbling.

Reality, however, has never been a better friend. Blast FM is nattering on in the background, there’s chatter of a healthy gossip to business ratio that breaks the working silence, and after my first couple of questions (which are always the hardest) the real day started with basic tasks. I got to see the work for three big clients, pitching in for the research behind two written articles and having a sneaky peek at a fashion editorial that gave me some serious goosepimples. To close up the day, I got given a writing feature – to my type-happy delight – for a certain big newspaper, and nearly burned my retinas concentrating on it until 5PM jumped in and I felt a rush of home-time exhilaration.

 Today I donned my intern shoes, tappled out some real-life work and clipped out at 5PM feeling like a genuine, wooden-heeled office-girl – and I loved it!

Let’s hope my butt survives tomorrow.

Goodnight.

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The 'Welcome Home' Mat
Made it through Day #1, team!

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She Interns: The Night Before

They say there’s nothing better the night before a big day, be it an interview, an exam or the first day at the office, than a good night’s sleep, and while I whole-heartedly agree, the less quiet and composed side of my brain argues that a little organisational fashion preparation never goes amiss either.

A quick rummage through many drawers and boxes and (an unspeakable time-length later) the work-clothes and jewellery are suitably categorised and collaged for the week. And…. Breathe. I can set my alarm for the morning to begin my first official Belfast commute.

Wish me luck guys!

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Makeup Illustration © Lose & Find

Beauty Au Natural?

WHEN PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT.

edit 1

In the mediated world of the twenty-first century, it can seem like all your friends at 21 have the same, smooth-as-a-baby’s-bottom skin that they popped into the world with, sans trickery. And while the fact is most of them won’t and we all know it, we still torture ourselves with the idea that the rest of the world is perfect, and we, the ugly club’s sole member, should probably be getting that brown paper bag for our heads already… BUT. Just like the models at fashion week will have been wearing cosmetics, so will they. While ‘The Barely There’ face is of my favourite make up looks, it is named with a wonderful amount of irony, considering the amount of products this actually takes to achieve for most. The make-up trade’s trick is to do au natural, without letting on there’s anything there at all. That’s easier said than done, however as someone once said, it is simply that practice makes perfect, and this philosophy is as true of make up as it is of anything else. From the internet to in the supermarket, on the TV to the billboards, from me to you: we’re all wrapped up in this casual trickery. Should we be worried?

Last term, Charles III Photography collaborated with friends to create their ‘People in Places’ album, and I had the pleasure of working as make-up artist with model-for-the-day, the lovely Caroline Lewin to recreate a subtle, natural glowing skin tone. The great thing about working with non-editorial/beauty models is it not only gives you a chance to demonstrate your skills as a make-up artist, but even better, it gives everyday gals a chance to realise that with the right make-up, anyone can match the supple, fresh complexion of Taylor Swift. Which in turn, makes me wonder…

Fresh, glowing skin for  © Charles III Photography
Fresh, glowing skin for © Charles III Photography

Working and living with make up day in and day out, as most women of our era do, can make one wonder about the conflicting pressures to be a certain type of beautiful, and to be it naturally. Let’s face it: as unfortunate as it is, we can’t all be that (annoyingly pretty but most likely lovely) friend who’s skin unfairly perfect. Certainly growing up in my house, I was always told not to wear make-up, but I was left to make my own decision this evidently did not happen. From around fifteen, I had a morning routine of experimenting with “painting my face” (quote Daddy Black) and as I’ve grown older, this routine play with and between a ‘natural’ self, self-representation and self-fashioning that happens each morning, has become an interesting dilemma – which crops up particularily when I get the feeling I shouldn’t step out of my room without looking decently human. To be fair, my hung-over zombie look is not particularly pleasant for anyone involved, but who am I pleasing when I chuck on some concealer and mascara…?

SO WHAT?

It doesn’t take much internet searching or general pondering to see that the bigger and overt issues of ‘acceptable’ image are everywhere from the London SlutWalks, the first UK case legally classifying an attack on a goth in Manchester as legitimate hate crime, the Berka banned in French schools. But even the issues as simple as the way our complexion is, or the size of the circles under are eyes are in play with these standardisation of what is deemed ‘right’, ‘preferable’ or even ‘acceptable’. There is underlying a societal pressure to meet a disturbingly naturalised idea of appearance that simply doesn’t seem to be reachable without make-up, and it’s been prevalent in human society as far back as the Egyptians.

While it’s all great to celebrate ‘natural beauty’ and damn the cosmetics industry for instilling false ideals of ‘real’ beauty, how natural is the beauty we’re celebrating? Realistically, if you get an inconveniently placed spot and have to option of covering it up, most of us are still going to reach for the concealer and conform. Ladies, if you’ve got bags under your eyes because you’ve been up writing essays/blogging/procrastinating, Benefit’s Erase Paste is probably going to be on the agenda the next morning. (Lads, is the equivalent a bleary shave, careful mussing of the hair and a lot of splashing cold water?) There is something to be said for how our scientifically validated world values what science says is healthy. And to state the blindingly obvious, no one I know actively strives to look bad. But the conversations that don’t happen are the ones about what this pressure of ‘bad’ is and where it comes from…

Where does bad come from then? Maybelline, it’s not looking good for you…

Realising the tools the media industry has at its disposal to warp our self-perception can be powerful, and at least empower us to consider what influences our everyday decisions. We all know that physical beauty is what it says on the tin – skin deep –  but that knowledge (for me at least) doesn’t supplant some socially constructed and innate desire to look a certain way. Should I be more wary of the discourse I am entering into and perhaps advocating by performing a certain type of image and denouncing another? Furthermore, what are the fashion, beauty and make-up industries which I so adore, doing to the way we perceive and present ourselves? Is this concealer routine a path of good, or evil?

This is is more of a pondering on self-perception and social influences than any attempt to pose an answer or impose a judgement. Equally, there are still so many thoughts of social branding and non-verbal communication flapping about my head that I simply cannot continue to ramble on with.  Make up is still for me, a pretty fantastic way of creatively “expressing yourself” or “self-fashioning” or whatever you want to call it – albeit superficially. I’m (a little self-indulgently) convinced as long as I’m thinking about these things, and trying to make conscious choices, my brain won’t vegetate.

What do you think, Emma?

Any thoughts? Comment.

Peace out.

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The Make-Up B(l)ag: Cover-Up

APRIL CONCEALER

If there’s only one teeny-tiny, minuscule, barely there upside to not having flawless skin – and we’re really scraping the bottom of the barrel here – it’s that it’s trained me to work to make up for it. (See what I did there…?)  In my experience, it’s next to impossible for me to roll out of bed looking pristine and presentable, more likely than not, I need a bit of help along the way. But only recently that I’ve started getting paid for my obsession with recreating naturally flawless skin and it’s been a long slog of experimenting that’s brought me here. So, I feel it’s only fair to share a few tips for my make-up bag’s CHEAPEST essential, tried and tested on little old me.

 Concealer: Collection 2000 Lasting Perfection Ultimate Wear Concealer – £3.99, Boots

Lasting Perfection Ultimate Wear Concealer

While there’s no make up that works for absolutely everyone, for most, this little liquid concealer is worth its weight in gold. I’m not kidding when I say that it’s my desert island (with date) essential. People are mostly right to be afraid of cheap make-up, as there are a lot of cosmetics out there that have no right to be sold as anything other than children’s face-paints. But this baby is a smooth textured, creamy concealer with a wand applicator which dries to matt, and the claims of waterproof and 16hr wear aren’t far off the bat – kudos for Collection 2000.

Unfortunately, there are only four shade options – I wear No. 3 Medium – but if you can’t match yours and want to experiment with this as a base layer concealer, try a shade lighter than your natural skin tone and work over it once it’s dried (see tip a).

TIPS:

a) As a thick concealer, it can be difficult to blend. Try applying it as a base pre-foundation concealer, or if applying on top, use very sparingly and dab with the tips of your fingers to build coverage. As a base concealer, it’s tricky to do as the texture of the concealed area will be different, but worth a try if you’ve time to experiment.

b) As with all make-up, double-dipping is a nightmare for hygiene – so my advice is wash those hands and only use the wand applicator to transfer to the back of your hand before application. I’d always recommend this step as it not only warms the make-up to a better consistency, it’s super clean.

c) All concealers are a pain for dry skin and can end up looking flaky or unfortunately scaley (as unpleasant as those adjectives are, you know what I mean). Try moisturising the night before using, if necessary, a gentle exfoliant beforehand. Dab concealer into skin and remember that if you don’t give your base primer/moisturiser time to sink into skin, the concealer won’t sit!

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