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#IWD: What it’s really like to have your dream career – by the women who are doing it

Are you a budding doctor, pilot or playwright? To celebrate International Women’s Day, we ask women who landed dream jobs like these about what it takes to be successful in their enviable careers

Sometimes we can be conditioned into believing that our childhood dream belongs – well – in childhood. Whether it's entering male-dominated sectors (shockingly, just 5% of commercial pilots are female, for example) or those that are heavily competitive (such as medicine) we might opt to study something less ambitious than a subject we actually long to immerse ourselves in.

Start realising your dream career today with our university course finder.

But 2019 isn’t the year to play it small. If you’ve always wanted to make that childhood dream a reality, prepare to be inspired by the women defying the odds in their industry to boast an enviable job title – whether that’s a doctor, lawyer, pilot, playwright or press officer.

Women who’ve achieved their #CareerGoals give us a rare inside glimpse of their day job, tell us about how they got there and bust myths on common misconceptions.

(NB: Inspiration is for life, not just for International Women’s Day).

Try these unexpected places for a fresh dose of career inspiration.

#CareerGoals: Jodie the doctor

Long hours, intense studying and the small matter of confronting illness and death each day: no wonder medicine has a competitive and demanding reputation. Junior doctor Jodie takes us on her journey from medicine applicant to qualified doctor, telling us about how she applied two years in a row, sneaking in an extra degree and how her thespian skills come in handy with patients…
Every day brings something new. While it can be incredibly stressful at times and sometimes I feel like I have no idea what I'm doing, I feel like I'm learning a huge deal still all the time, with amazing support from the senior doctors around me.

The doctors and nurses in your team make it all the more bearable – when there's good camaraderie, you can laugh off the awful days with them.

And those acting skills?
As a doctor, people often tell you all their biggest secrets and you see the most unusual things. But you can't show any hint of surprise or judgement. So whatever your thoughts, you must take the information on board with a straight face and use it to help treat them.

Read Jodie’s full story: What it’s really like to be a doctor. And check out our medicine subject guide. 

#CareerGoals: Anke the lawyer

Meanwhile, Oxford graduate Anke’s parents are both doctors and she always envied their job satisfaction. But being terribly squeamish, law seemed more attractive. Anke takes to the stand to testify on what the life of a lawyer is really like…
It’s not like Suits or The Good Wife. The interesting scenes in those are like snapshots of the best parts of my job. 

The majority of my job is sifting through papers like a detective, trying to catch a mistake made by the other side or to get a discount for my client (I act on behalf of sued hospitals, not patients).

However, like any job, there are also some boring administrative tasks that need to be done to keep things moving.

Biggest career highlight to date?
I think this would be my first real court appearance. I wasn't up against another lawyer, but a litigant in person (a person without legal representation). The judge struck out her case based on my application, so it was my first real win at court.

Read Anke’s full story: What it’s really like to be a lawyer. Want to become a high-flying lawyer? Start today with our subject guide.

#CareerGoals: Rosanna the pilot

Rosanna caught the aviation bug young. She was on a flight as a child and got to visit the pilots mid-flight. After seeing this view for the first time, she was hooked. Rosanna shares the highs and lows of being a commercial pilot, her route to qualifying, plus some words of encouragement for young girls who want to reach for the sky.
You could never get bored of the view from the flight deck, and I've had the opportunity to see the most stunning scenery: sunsets and sunrises, endless numbers of stars at night and my absolute favourite, the northern lights.

Just to bring you back down to earth…
We get issued a working roster once a month, which tells us what we’re doing for the next month. We are legally allowed to work up to seven days a week, and up to 14 hours on any given day. So the schedule is not for the faint-hearted!!

But the highs are definitely worth it for Rosanna:
Juggling long working hours with home life is tough, no matter your gender. However, it’s completely worth it as I go to work with a smile on my face. I can't quite believe someone pays me to fly planes!

Read Rosanna’s full story: What it’s really like to be a pilot.

This 17-year-old landed her dream work experience gig. Here’s some tips on how to get yours.

#CareerGoals: Lynette the playwright/theatre director 

How do you turn a passion for words into a career? London playwright and theatre director Lynette did just that after finding inspiration from one author while studying English at university.
I write about things that make me angry, or issues I feel aren't being explored enough. For instance, STEP was about homosexuality and leaving London. My returning play #Hashtag Lightie is about the mixed-race experience.

All of these topics are very close to home for me, and told from an east London perspective. I feel our voices are as valid as Shakespeare's. If we don't tell our stories, who will?

A typical week for Lynette can vary:
I was associate director of the Gate Theatre for a year, spending four days a week in its office. When I was in rehearsal for Assata Taught Me, that could be a six-day week with actors. If I'm writing, I may stay up all night!

Any words of wisdom?
You've got to do what you love, man! If this is what you love, then do it.

Read Lynette’s full story: What it’s really like to be a playwright/theatre director. And banish the writer’s block with our creative writing subject guide. 

#CareerGoals: Ifrah the press officer 

If a company or brand does something significant but no one hears it, did it really happen? Similarly, how does a company manage its image and perception among the general public? 

Which? press officer Ifrah reveals what it's like to work in the fast-moving world of public relations, how her creativity helps in her role and the one, simple thing some graduates let themselves down on when breaking into the industry.
I'm proud of everything I do! But a standout moment would be launching an insurance scheme to the public and handling all the media enquiries for it throughout.

It received blanket coverage across most national newspapers (including the front page of The Financial Times), plus broadcast TV and radio like Channel 4 News, BBC News and Good Morning Britain.

It was a huge success, very fast-paced and I loved every minute of it.

The biggest myth about being a press officer?
People often think PR people go out and attend parties all the time. I mean, Absolutely Fabulous definitely linked the two worlds together. There's a little bit of that, of course. But mostly it's about making sure you're on top of everything in the news and everything on Twitter!

Read Ifrah’s full story: What it’s really like to be a press officer. Want to become an expert communicator? There’s our public relations subject guide for that. 

If your dream career is in fact a mystery, start with this expert advice from our go-to career advisor.


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