Jessica Bumpus is Fashion Features Editor at VOGUE.COM
What route did you take to get where you are today?
I studied at London College of Fashion and did the BA (Hons) in Fashion Promotion, specialising in journalism (now BA (Hons) Fashion Journalism). We were encouraged to do a lot of work experience while studying, which I did and which was very beneficial. I spent one day a week at Ellegirl, went to Vogue, the Daily Telegraph, Easy Living, my local paper, Brides magazine and assisted a freelance stylist. It was the placement at Brides which was especially fruitful as they asked me back on a paid internship as a fashion assistant once I graduated from which I then went to the online department, did some freelancing and was then offered a job.
Can you describe a typical work day?
Busy. Because I work online it's incredibly reactive. You might have your day planned with the stories you're going to write and the features you're going to research and then something breaks and it's all thrown out of the window, well sort of. And it depends what time of the year it is. For example I have just been out of the office for the last week at London Fashion Week - interviewing designers, reviewing shows and finding stories etc. Now that I'm back in the office I'm back to writing news, compiling fashion features, shopping pages, co-ordinating and managing bigger projects.
What or who inspired you to get into fashion?
I have always loved fashion, love the dressing up box and when I was younger used to play out in a pair of jewelled and little high-heeled shoes. They were surprisingly practical. I'm not sure there was a specific who or what as such but I have always been creative and fashion has always captivated me - so in that sense I would day it is the designers who inspired me to get into fashion.
What has been your worst job?
I think I have been pretty lucky on that front, though there was one Christmas job in a shop I had that wasn't the best - and although I was only in for four hours of the day, those were the longest four hours of my life each time and every time. I didn't stay long and went and got myself a better job that I enjoyed a lot more.
What issues do you think are facing the fashion industry today?
The fashion media and the way it's changing - especially the increasing prevalence of the internet and the social media that comes attached to it like Twitter, Facebook etc. The effect is huge - for designers in the sense of having an online presence - be that retail or brand personality - and for the press themselves and working out how best to relate to their audience. There's also now the blogosphere to think about.
What impresses you in applicants?
Being able to take initiative but also to be able to ask when they're not sure. We don't expect you to know everything to begin with so if in doubt do ask. Also, it's really important to be thorough and carry out tasks to the best of your ability. Don't rush something, do it properly and make sure you check it. If you end up making more work for the people you’re supposed to be helping by doing something roughly and quickly, it's not going to be so great. Being willing and enthusiastic is also very helpful - to you and us.
What skills do you look for in your team?
Because we work online you have to be able to respond to deadlines very quickly and as such be able to keep calm under pressure. It's important to communicate with each other all the time and help one another out - be that subbing someone's work, finding a story, helping to compile a larger feature etc.
Do you think qualifications are important?
They are and they aren't. I studied Fashion Journalism but other people studied history or English at university. But I didn't ever study building websites or html coding - that's just something I have learned on the job.
Do you have any pet peeves with job applications?
Yes, don't send your application to the wrong person. I get lots of CVs sent to me and not only am I not the right person to send them to but they won't even have been addressed to me within the main body of the email and will just say "To whom it may concern" - this looks like you haven't taken any time whatsoever to find out who is the right person and suggests you'd do the same given any other task. Study mastheads, call up and find out who is the right person. It saves everyone time.
What is your top tip for fashion students and graduates looking for jobs/placements?
Don't give up. I remember spending my first year at university just applying and applying for placements and it paid off as some I had to be booked in a whole year in advance and with each application I managed to refine my CV and cover letters. Then the more placements I got, the more placements I got.