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Interview: Lucy Partington of Cosmopolitan


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 I don't know if I say this enough but, I love my job. It allows me to meet some of the coolest people, including my most recent interviewee Cosmopolitan beauty writer Lucy Partington.

I met Lucy at a Cosmopolitan event last year where I recognised her as a familiar face. As it turned out, we had already connected on LinkedIn - contacts are important kids! 

The speakers, Editor-in-Chief Farrah Storr and Beauty Director Ingeborg van Lotringen, then relayed an amazing anecdote about Lucy in which they explained how Lucy would work weekdays at Cosmopolitan HQ as an intern, then travel home to work at McDonald's.

I remember thinking to myself, 'Now this girl is exactly who our readers want to hear about! This girl is such a boss!' 

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So, of course in true Joanna fashion and grabbed her during the talk to learn more about her journey into the world of magazine journalism. 

What is your beauty must-have and why? 

Oh god, so much. As far as skincare goes I’d say Hyaluronic Acid, it’s super hydrating and is a must in my day and nighttime routines. I’ve noticed such a difference in my skin since using it. I like NIOD Multi-Molecular Hyaluronic Complex and Medik8 Hydr8 B5. Makeup-wise, I’d say probably foundation: I know it’s not very exciting, but I do like putting new ones to the test and seeing how they wear. At the minute I’m really liking Rimmel Lasting Finish Breathable, it’s medium coverage and is so easy to apply and blend. I’m also a fan of Huda Beauty #FauxFilter – I initially thought it’d be too much for me, and although it is full coverage, it doesn’t feel too heavy on my skin. I’m a big fan! 

What led you to pursue a career in journalism? 

You know, beauty journalism was never my first choice. Until I did my first internship I didn’t even realise it was an actual, legitimate career. At one point I wanted to be a lawyer, then I did law at A-Level and realised I probably wasn’t clever enough. I did English Literature and Language too – I’d always enjoyed reading, but when it came to choosing a degree I decided I didn’t want to be told what books to read, I didn’t want the fun to be sucked out of something I liked doing – probably because I’m stubborn. So then somehow I settled on journalism – I figured it was like English but different. I looked at various degree courses up and down the country and ended up settling on single honours journalism at De Montfort University in Leicester. It was NCTJ accredited (not that I ever passed the exams I needed for that qualification ) and seemed like the best option. It was very newspaper focused though and I remember in my first lecture we were asked where we saw ourselves in five years. I said, “Living in London and working at a glossy magazine,” and I got laughed at. At that point, I didn’t know what or who I wanted to work for or write about, I just knew I didn’t want to work at a newspaper.  I’d always had an interest in beauty, I’d spend all my money in beauty halls and on expensive makeup and then, during my third year, I saw a beauty internship at Psychologies magazine advertised. I went down to London for an interview and ended up being given this four-week placement on the beauty desk and I absolutely loved it. It was in those four weeks that I realised it was a career in beauty journalism I wanted to pursue.

What are the main achievements you have reached in your career?

I think getting my job at Cosmopolitan is a pretty big achievement – it took a while but I got there in the end. I remember my dad saying to me after I graduated that I ‘couldn’t wait for the dream job at Cosmo to come along – that has to be the end goal,’ but I was dead set on working here, I wanted nothing more and I made it happen through hard work and determination. There was definitely an element of being in the right place at the right time, but it didn’t get handed to me on a plate. 

Any advice for budding journalists like our readers? 

Be patient, work hard, make yourself indispensable, and get as much experience under your belt as you can. I know it’s not ideal, but it doesn’t matter how many degrees or qualifications you have, you still have to work your way up and know that everybody in this industry has done unpaid work at one point. There’s absolutely no way you can go into a mid-level position in journalism without being a junior first. Use your initiative, make contacts but don’t pester people. If you’re on work experience then be aware that there might not always be jobs for you to do. Read the situation around you: is everyone on the team on deadline? Offer to make them tea or coffee, but don’t constantly ask for things to do. The sign of a good intern is having the ability to make themselves busy and being on hand and happy to help when there is something that comes up. 

With Conde Nast cutting down on print production, what do you think of the Digital vs. Print debate that magazines are having at the moment?

I think it’s really sad! I really do think print and digital can co-exist, it just has to be done in the right way. This explosion of influencers and digital in general has happened so quickly that nobody really knows whats happening or what’s right and what’s wrong. There’s no denying that people are buying fewer magazines, but with so many streams of content coming at consumers from all angles, you have to make sure you stand out. Why should people pay for content when they can get it online for free? That’s really why I love writing for Cosmo, in 2015 the whole magazine had a redesign and changed its direction. Our editor, Farrah, brought back long-form journalism we started being able to write first-person features. I think that’s what people want: people don’t go to magazines for bitesize bits of content and makeup tips they’ve read a million times before. They want fresh, inspirational, relatable and exciting features that are actually interesting to read, that tell them something new and that really make them think. And that’s where a lot of print magazines are going wrong. They’re shooting themselves in the foot by trying to replicate what’s successful online, but, sadly, that’s never really going to work. 

Where do you see yourself in ten years? 

I honestly don’t know. I’d like to think I’ll still be working in beauty, probably still in London, but I have no idea doing what or where at. Hopefully, I’ll be happy though, it sounds cheesy but that’s ultimately what’s important. 

Anything else you would like to add?

Shorthand isn’t the be all and end all! I’ll probably get frowned upon for saying this, but I was told for three years that I’d never get a job without it. It literally caused me so many sleepless nights, I hated it, I never passed the exam (I think I failed it more than once actually) and look at me now! I’ve interviewed countless celebrities and never once has my dictaphone let me down…

Follow Lucy on Instagram here.

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