PGCert graduate Rinke Tjepkema was recently appointed Deputy Editor of Vogue Netherlands. Having trained in Clinical Psychology, she was previously Fashion Features Editor for Grazia Holland and Editor of Vogue Online.
What were you doing before you joined the PGCert?
I had a very academic background. This course was the opposite; very practical and hands-on. I was transported to a very different learning experience - which was brilliant. I was taught to just do it - write that catwalk report… find a great interview! It was intense and scary but I loved it. Textbooks had traditionally been a safe haven of learning for me but that is not how you learn to be a journalist; you learn through doing. I could no longer be an outsider, examining things objectively. I had to be involved with my subjects – I had to immerse myself in whatever I was researching.
What sort of things did you learn on the course?
One of the things I learnt was how to apply fashion to any new story to make a great feature. We did an exercise, which was to find a news story and then use that as a springboard for three different angles on a story. That thing of playing with ideas is something I still do. The PG Cert Fashion & Lifestyle Journalism actually teaches you to think in a different way. Fifteen weeks is actually quite a long time if you have the passion and are prepared to immerse yourself in the subject.
What are some of the strengths of the course?
One of the great things is the industry input and connections. After I finished the course, I did a four-month internship at British Elle with Rebecca Lowthorpe, where I made my own pages with my own bylines. That was really important for my CV and for my portfolio. I was able to show that to industry people when I went back to Holland. I also showed my final project, which was based on contemporary poetry! I originally started freelancing for Glamour magazine and trade publications before being offered the job at Grazia.
What have been some of your most memorable career moments so far?
Interviewing Karl Lagerfeld (when my i-Phone didn’t record!) and Corinne Rotfield (when it did, she was great - I love what she does). I did a backstage story at a Victoria’s Secret show where I stayed for twenty hours. And I will always remember my first fashion week when I saw a Galliano show. That was incredible.
What’s the best thing about life at Vogue?
I simply love my job. It has been a challenge going from online to print, which is much slower but in print you have time to make things perfect. The first issue of Vogue Netherlands appeared in April 2012 and we currently have a circulation of 80,000. It’s all about the magic of fashion and being larger than life but part of my role is to make it a bit more practical and accessible. The challenge for me is not to do any writing or production in this role. Content creation and content management cannot really be done by the same person. I am now managing, delegating and coaching. To make a good magazine, you need to be able to select the right models, images, headlines. I think I’m a good all-rounder.
What advice would you give to would-be journalists and editors?
I would advise writers to find something that they really enjoy writing about and then specialize in that. Find out everything you can about it and become an expert. You have to be really driven to succeed in this industry. There should be no expectation of a job at the end or an easy ride – to make it, you have to work very, very hard. The course was able to fill what would have been a gap in my CV. It taught me how to be a fashion writer.