Meg O’Donnell – BA (Hons) Photography graduate

Current employer: MACK

Current job title: Sales, Press, and Marketing Executive

Current location: London

“Unpaid internships are not ideal, but they are so very important. By giving your time and effort, you demonstrate to your employer just how passionate you are about getting yourself into the industry. But at the same time, don’t allow people to take advantage of you.”

Tell us about your career path since graduation.

Initially, I began interning around London. I wasn’t completely sure what I wanted to do with photography so I gained experience in galleries, magazines, and publishing houses. I really enjoyed my time and experience, yet I was determined to remain open-minded with my future career path. I think that is important; I never found that I was closing myself off to other opportunities, which resulted in an array of varied working environments and roles.  

Has your career path changed since graduation?

Yes and no. After completing an Internship with MACK, I was offered a position as their Sales, Press, and Marketing Executive. So I was working in an environment that I had hoped for, yet I had never experienced sales and publicity and never really imagined myself doing so, until my role in their company. I began to really enjoy this role whilst interning and I guess it naturally lead me to the job I have now.

What is the most difficult thing which you have faced in your career?

My limited experience in the role initially resulted in a few months of confusion and errors. For me, this made me so worried, as I wanted to be instantly great. Eventually, I had a word with myself and was also told by friends and colleagues, including my boss, that even the most successful people have to start somewhere, which made me relax and now I’m really enjoying feeling comfortable and confident in my role.

What is the best, most exciting or fun thing that you have done in your career?

With MACK, I have attended a number of exciting dinners surrounded by the very people who inspired me through my time studying photography. Due to my role within sales and publicity, I also get the opportunity to organise and attend exciting events and art fairs. I also have the exciting potential of travelling with MACK: I’m hoping to take trips to the US and Japan, so fingers crossed that all works out.  

What, if anything, would you do differently if you could?

Sometimes I wish that I had taken a year out to travel the world and to not have anything to think about, other than which country I was going to next. I guess I still have time for that later in life.

What advice would you give to anyone wanting to get in to the same line of work?

Unpaid internships are not ideal, but they are so very important. By giving your time and effort, you demonstrate to your employer just how passionate you are about getting yourself into the industry. But at the same time, don’t allow people to take advantage of you. At the end of the day, the experience will be beneficial, but you are there to assist and make the company’s life a little easier.

How did studying at Plymouth help you?

Studying at Plymouth helped me enormously. The tutors on my course were incredible and gave me a lot of advice and support. I made it clear that I didn’t necessarily want to be a photographer quite early on in my course, and they nurtured that. They gave me the options of alternative routes, and in a way they aided my direction into publishing.

Did you undertake a placement during your degree and if so, how did this benefit you?

I interned at the Peninsula Arts Gallery from my second year until my graduation. This enabled me to gain experience within an art gallery, which is something that really interested me. I gained experience working behind the box office, selling tickets, and volunteering at events, which is helping me in my current position.

What is your favourite memory of studying at Plymouth?

I have plenty, but I think the relationships I made were so wonderful and are still so important to me. I don’t get to see my friends from University too often because we’re so busy and based in different cities, but I know they will always be there for me (and vice versa of course).

Do you stay in touch with other University alumni or lecturers?

The friendships I made on my course and the groups with whom I lived and partied for those incredible three years will be friends for life. I am also still in touch with a few of my past lecturers, and I make contact now and again and update them on my daily life, which I’m sure they love…

Would you recommend undertaking a course with the University, and why?

One hundred percent. Plymouth is such a great place to be a student. It may be a small city but I found it a very inspiring place to live and my course was full of very exciting opportunities of which I really made the most.

Inspired by this story?

For more information about studying photography, please visit our BA (Hons) Photography page. For more information about our range of courses within the School of Art, Design and Architecture, please visit the school page.

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