Day 249: A Beginner’s Guide to Interning…

Hello, hello, hello!

It has been far too long since we last spoke. All sorts of wonderful things have happened. I have graduated and am now contemplating changing my title to The Clever Asparagus BA (Hons) – I joke!

Since leaving university, my days have consisted of commuting to London each day in an attempt to become the next Anna Wintour… it hasn’t quite happened yet, but I’m working on it.


My intentions were to give you a weekly update of the work experience and internships that I have been doing. However, having just completed internship no.3, I have far too much to relay and the last thing I want to do is bore you.

Somewhere along the line, I signed a confidentiality agreement, so legally I can’t divulge all the juicy gossip anyway. Hmm… am I working for magazines or MI5?

A Beginner’s Guide to Nando’s was quite a success, so I have compiled A Beginner’s Guide to Interning, with ten top tips. Some of this may seem really obvious, but it’s shocking the simple mistakes you hear about. Even if you aren’t looking to intern, this guide applies to many jobs…

1) You will probably be asked to make tea. Deal with it. If you aren’t asked, offer anyway. This is your opportunity to communicate with the whole team. It’s amazing how much a cup of Earl Grey can brighten someone’s day.

2) If you are affectionately known as the ‘coffee b*tch’, be the best darn ‘coffee b*tch’ the company have ever had. Take on the persona of Father Ted’s Mrs. Doyle – consider using an Irish accent if it helps.

3) Sent on errands that involve money? Always get a receipt – granted this might not be so easy if you’ve been sent out for illicit substances.                                           Disclaimer: I have only ever been asked to buy food, cigarettes and lattes!

4) If you don’t have a brilliant memory, write everything down. A request might not seem important at the time, but you may be taken up on it later on. It’s more efficient to look back at your notes than to continually pester your employers.

5) So, you didn’t write something down. You’re not quite sure what to do. Do ask. Asking is better than getting it completely wrong.

6) Keep it professional. Of course you should engage with the people around you. However, never give too many details about your personal life. You’re not on the payroll yet – your boss doesn’t need to hear about your sexual history or drunken antics – regardless of how hilarious you think your tales are.

7) This is the most obvious, the one you hear all the time: Be punctual!! Of course there will be days when your train is late. However, being late every day translates as unreliable. Unreliable equals unemployable.

8) Explore! If you’re in a beautiful city, like London, make the most of your breaks and take a look around. Just remember to come back on time.

9) Consider taking a packed lunch. As an intern, your pay will be low – that’s if you’re getting paid at all. Lunching at Pret every day starts to add up.

10) Stick it out and enjoy it. Interning is such a great opportunity to figure out what you want to do. Even if you hate your placement, don’t quit. The contacts you meet and the references you walk away with will come in really handy one day.

The Silly Asparagus is not claiming to be an expert, but following these tips should prevent you from making any major mistakes.

Some of you reading this will completely disagree with the internship system. But it’s unlikely to change anytime soon, so make the best of it. A majority of journalists will have been an intern at some point in their career. For every job you refuse to do, there are plenty of others willing to snap up the opportunity.

If you have any questions regarding interning at all, please leave me a comment below or drop me an email at: thesillyasparagus@live.co.uk. I’ll do my best to help.

On Wednesday, I begin a very exciting internship with cosmopolitan.co.uk. I cannot wait to get started. Wish me luck!

Talk to you soon.

Remember to send me your questions and I will feature them on here.

With Love,

The Silly Asparagus. x

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Day 213: Thank You

Hello sweet cheeks.

I just wanted to take a moment to thank all of you that voted for me in the ELLE intern competition. Unfortunately, I didn’t win. When the judges cast their votes, I had the most Facebook ‘likes’ in my category – which is definitely a plus. On 22nd August, the winners will be announced to the public. I’m excited to see who has won.

If I told you that I wasn’t disappointed then I would be lying. However, when I applied for the position, I had no magazine experience (– this has since changed). Perhaps I wasn’t quite ready to become Celebrity Editor.

I could now do one of two things. I could declare that ELLE is evil and never buy it again. Or, I can look at the positives and move on. I’m opting for the latter. I’ve got too much to give to let this dishearten me in any way. I love ELLE just as much now as I did before the competition.

Although I didn’t get the internship, I was able to communicate with so many other brilliant interns. I also got some really positive tweets from the ELLE team. One of my favourite ELLE writers, Stacey Duguid, called The Silly Asparagus “great”. The journalist who wrote the David Beckham interview, Alice Wignall, described this blog as “lovely”. Anne-Marie Curtis, ELLE’s Fashion Director, said that I sound “very passionate and dedicated”. So, it isn’t all bad.

Most importantly, I was reminded of how brilliant and supportive my friends and family are. From the likes, tweets and sharing my application link, I received so much support and positivity. Even people I hardly know would approach me on campus to discuss the competition. Thank you to those of you that helped. I am extremely grateful.

This week I have been interning at Celebs on Sunday, (The Sunday Mirror magazine). It has been a great experience and The Silly Asparagus can’t wait to tell you all about it.

Talk to you soon.

The Interning Asparagus. x

#ELLEintern2012

Hello lovelies.

Firstly, sorry to those of you who follow my blog for veggie-related business. For at least the next week or so, my blog is likely to be dedicated to the ELLE intern competition.

My original post can be found here, please take a look:

https://sillyasparagus.wordpress.com/2012/06/06/elle-internship-2012/

I do my best to avoid clichés, but to intern for a magazine as prestigious as ELLE would be an opportunity of a lifetime. Who knows what it could lead to in the future. When friends came for tea when I was younger, I would often sit them at the table with my felt-tip pens and make them contribute to my ‘magazines’ — pages and pages of white A4 paper, folded in half, full of my own garish designs. I soon realised from my badly drawn models that I was not going to be the next Karl Lagerfeld. Fortunately, I appeared to have better capabilities with words. I am one of those extremely annoying people who like to correct poor spellings made by others. If there is a typo in a newspaper, I enjoy hunting it down and pointing it out. That alone should make me Editor material!

I guess that’s enough of my life story for one day. I hope you like my application — I feel I have made perfect choices (read my application to find out what I mean: http://www.elleuk.com/internship-2012/celebrity-editor/(offset)/20). Please vote, it takes less than a minute and you don’t need to provide an email address or anything.

I am extremely grateful for the support so far, but please keep going!

Thank-You.

With love and kindest regards,

The Silly Asparagus.

ELLE Internship 2012

Hello darling.

I hope you have had a regal Jubilee weekend. I spent mine at a Coldplay concert and eating too much chocolate, at Cadbury’s World (I’ll blog about both soon). The focus of today’s post is ELLE magazine.

ELLE has recently begun their ‘Edited by the Interns’ project. ELLE want interns to be at the helm of their October issue and are offering ten positions: The Editor, News Editor (online), Fashion Photographer, Beauty Editor, Celebrity Editor, Art Editor, Features Editor, Make-Up Artist, Hair Stylist, Fashion Editor.

The second I saw this competition, I wanted to get involved. This is such a great opportunity. I have applied for the position of Celebrity Editor, as I feel my experience as a Casting Assistant has acquired me with skills that are perfect for the role. There is still time to apply for further positions, but I am more than happy with my choice.

If you know me, you will already know how much being an intern at ELLE would mean to me. From Lorraine Candy to Anne-Marie Curtis, to Stacey Duguid (please bring back ‘I Am Mademoiselle’) and Alice Wignall, the ELLE team is full of women (and men) I admire and who inspire me. I have been buying the magazine since I was 16 and I know it inside out.

As far as I am aware, voting is not based on the social media popularity of an application. However, receiving support can’t be a bad thing. Voting doesn’t seem to be working properly at the moment, but please keep trying. Here is my application (look for Collette Naden):

http://www.elleuk.com/internship-2012/celebrity-editor/(offset)/20

If you have Facebook, please like it. If you have Twitter then hit that Tweet button. Google+ it, send it to others. Thanks.

The task is to pick three cover star options for the October issue. I did not opt for my favourite celebrities, but women who suit ELLE and who would be relevant to the October issue. If I want to get competitive, I feel my application already stands out against some of the others. Some candidates have chosen cover stars who have already appeared, only a few issues ago. I also took into consideration who has recently starred in ELLE’s rival magazines. ELLE are leaders in what they do, they do not need or want to reproduce what their competitors have done.

There has been some negative response to the competition. Some people simply hear the word ‘intern’ and turn into the Incredible Hulk, getting irate about pay and worker’s rights. If you are not prepared to start at the bottom, I do not think you belong at the top. In fashion, interning is part of the industry. I understand that it is difficult to work for little or no money, but if you want in then you have to find a way. ELLE do pay their interns, but even if they didn’t, I would still find a way to support myself so that I would be able to do such a valuable internship.

I am lucky, because I am yet to have a bad experience as an intern. I have heard some horror stories, but so far I am unscathed. The ‘dreaded’ coffee run is not a bad experience. They enable you to talk to the team and you are providing them with the fuel they need to work. It is not just interns who get the drinks. I was once offered coffee from Kate Phelan, a woman I also admire. For those of you not interested in fashion, Kate Phelan is the Creative Director at Topshop, having previously been Fashion Director at British Vogue. Kate Phelan is an extremely influential woman. Even though she was surrounded by interns, Kate got the coffee. If she is happy to do it, so am I. If you don’t think you need to intern, that’s fine — it’s just less competition for me.

I have gone on enough today. Please do support my application. In a future post, I will write a Celebrity Special on vegetarian stars.

Keep your carrots crossed and wish me luck!

Thanks.

Best Wishes,

The Silly Asparagus

Day 126: Pat-a-cake…

Over the weekend, The Silly Asparagus finally spent longer than five minutes in the kitchen. Before you get excited, I did not cook a vegetarian banquet.  Instead, I baked around 40 cupcakes for the birthday of Uncle Asparagus.  The cupcakes turned out well.  I did not take a lot of photos of them though, as I feel they could have been decorated better.  I definitely found some cute candles though…

Cupcakes are one of the most simple things to bake, and they are definitely still having a moment.  Until I went to university, I thought it was impossible to make a bad one.  I was wrong.  During my time in halls, people would make cakes and leave lovely signs that read ‘EAT ME’.  These signs should have said: ‘DO NOT EAT’, or ‘EAT AT YOUR OWN RISK’. These darling cakes will not go wrong if you follow my recipe:

To make 12 cakes, you will need:    

115g Unsalted butter                                                                                                         115g Caster sugar (sifted)                                                                                                 115g Self-raising flour                                                                                                              2 eggs (make sure they are free-range)                                                                                  2 teaspoons Vanilla extract                                                                                            Splash of milk

  • Preheat the oven to 180°C (350) Gas 4.
  • Once butter has softened, beat the butter and sugar together in a bowl, until pale and fluffy.
  • Beat in the eggs, one at a time.
  • Sift the flour into the mixture and fold in.
  • Stir in the vanilla extract and milk.
  • Spoon the mixture into cake cases.
  • Bake in the preheated oven, for around 15minutes.
  • Allow cakes to cool before decorating them.

For the vanilla buttercream:

85g unsalted butter (at room temperature)                                                                       225g icing sugar (sifted)                                                                                                          1 tablespoon milk                                                                                                                    1 teaspoon vanilla extract                                                                                                 Food colouring of your choice                                                                                       Choice of decoration, e.g. sprinkles

  • Put the butter in a bowl and beat until creamy.
  • Gradually beat in the sugar, milk and vanilla extract until smooth.
  • Add drops of food colouring until you have reached the desired colour.
  • Mix well.
  • Swirl the icing on top of the cupcakes, or pipe it on.
  • Decorate.

Unfortunately, this recipe is not suitable for vegans or those watching their waistlines.  If you are looking for a British touch to add to your cupcakes, I would recommend these paper cases (from Sainsbury’s).

If you prefer to buy your cakes, visit Candy Cakes (http://www.candycakes.com/).  There are four Candy Cakes outlets in London, and their flagship is in Windsor.  If you can’t get to one of their bakeries, they deliver to anywhere in London.  Their cakes are delicious and their window displays aren’t too shabby either:

As a lot of Candy Cakes have sweets on the top, make sure you check which ones are suitable for veggies!

I hope you have enjoyed today’s visual feast.

With love,

The Silly Asparagus.

Day 100: Kanye West

Hello my darlings.

Apologies that I have been a way for a while. It would seem that asparagus lead busy lifestyles. I am pretty sure that today is my 100th day as a vegetarian! Today, I want to talk fashion. At first, this post is going to have a rant about Kanye West, but I hope to reach a valuable point.

During London Fashion Week (February 2012), I found myself face to face with Kanye West. Kanye — let us pretend for a moment that I am on first name terms with the man, was wearing every pastel shade imaginable.  This chance encounter reminded me of what was coming: his second collection, which would be shown at Paris Fashion Week.  His show took place last night, and Twitter was too preoccupied with his fabulous after party, that the collection took a backseat.  However, today the claws are out.  I have several problems with Kanye and his attempt at breaking into the fashion industry. My first, is that his first collection was terrible. Despite this, he was still able to show in Paris, again. I have friends who are fashion students. Many of them are so incredibly talented. They, and other designers, work hard day and night, and the likelihood is that unless someone amazing such as Lulu Kennedy (Fashion East’s fairy Godmother) discovers them, or NEWGEN supports them, their designs will never see a fashion week.  Whilst they are learning their crafts the hard way, I can’t imagine that Kanye even knows how to stitch a button.

So, why have I featured Kanye on a vegetarian blog? One word: Fur. I am not going to nag you all about the fur industry and throw red paint over your clothes, but it is hideous. I know people who love fur, and will defend wearing it until they are blue in the face. I admit that I own fur. I made my fur purchases before I became a vegetarian and they are vintage. I can’t do anything about animals who were turned into coats 60 years.  However, we are now in 2012, we do not live in the arctic and faux fur no longer looks faux.

Kanye’s collection featured a lot of fur last night.  Some of the fur he used is known as ‘Astrakhan’.  This is the pelt of unborn lambs, yes foetal lambs.  For the fabric to be called ‘Astrakhan’, the lamb it has brutally taken from must be under the age of three days. Congratulations Mr. West, not only did you produce the worst fitting collection that Paris has seen (since your last collection), you managed to kill some sheep and their unborn lambs in the process.  Bravo! What added to the fur-fest was Kim Kardashian, brazenly sat on the Front Row in a white fur stole.  Yes, Kim, you have money. But temperatures in Paris were approximately 10°c last night. Unless you were roughing it in an igloo in Finland, I am rather certain that you did not need an animal draped around your neck.

Here’s my advice Kanye, the fashion pack are not all vegetarians and will literally eat you alive.  One of your albums is named ‘College Dropout’.  May I suggest that you return to college and get some proper training, before making collection number three.  Maybe save us the laughter and the column inches altogether and go back to making music.  Oh, and stay away from the lambs.

Yes, some of you will disagree with what I have said.  I would just like to point out that Stella McCartney produces beautiful collections season after season.  She has never compromised her position on fur in the process.  Meadham Kirchhoff showed some spectacular monster-inspired fur coats during fashion week (see below), but no animals were harmed in the process because the fur was fake.

If you are going to wear real fur, don’t buy it ignorantly.  Make sure you make an informed decision and understand the message you are sending out.  Around 85% of fur comes from farms.  China is one of the largest exporters of fur. The idea of wearing mink might not bother you, they are seen as a pest, especially to farmers.  But what about dogs?  Yes, you could be wearing a dog on your back.  Oh right, you fancy yourself as the next Cruella De Vil.  Wonderful.

In the next few days, this riled asparagus will discuss leather.

Thanks.

Lots of love.

x

Day 6: Christmas shopping

I woke up at 12am this morning and my head was spinning with all things ‘veggie’ as I tried to get back to sleep.  I want to start tackling the big issues such as animal welfare and the ecological impacts.  However, I do not want to do it in an ignorant way.  I need to do some more research before throwing facts at you.  I start getting really passionate about particular aspects of being a vegetarian, but then realise that my lifestyle contradicts it in some way.  I appreciate that I am over-thinking all of this, and frustrating my readers — ‘Collette, get a grip’ comes to mind.  This is important to me though and I want to be thorough.  Once I ‘get a grip’, writing this blog will be simple.  Today is not the day, and I am going to take the easy route on this lazy Sunday: shopping!

If you are not one of those keen (green)beans that has not only finished their Christmas shopping, but wrapped it too, consider this silly asparagus as your personal shopper.  Here are some guilt-free gifts (minus some of the price tags) for you to peruse at your leisure…

The Body Shop is a fail-proof choice.  Their gift sets start from just £6 (perfect as a secret santa present) and go up to £25.  All of their products smell heavenly.  The Body Shop takes pride in sourcing their ingredients responsibly and has always said no to animal testing.  http://www.thebodyshop.co.uk/_en/_gb/index.aspx

Medium mango gift box -- around £25

Suitable for fashionable carnivores, vegetarians and eco-warriors… Stella McCartney.  I will talk about Stella (and the vegetarian / vegan McCartney clan) later on in my blog.  In the meantime, here are a few lust-worthy pieces…

'Falabella' faux leather foldover tote, around £700

Pembridge wallet (bio cotton), around £360

 Melissa is the place to look for quirky, plastic, shoes.  I’ve had quite a few pairs of Vivienne Westwood for Melissa shoes.  They are comfy, eco-friendly AND scented like bubblegum.

Fuchsia Flocked Skyscrapers, Vivienne Westwood for Melissa, around £128

 www.fashion-conscience.com is a great website for clothes, bags and gifts.  Here are some highlights for the boys…

Fair trade NV London Calcutta Messenger, around £155

Econation recycled cork ipod case, around £12

Branch chunky knit, around £90

Miscellaneous goodies…

Recipe book: The Accidental Vegetarian, Simon Rimmer, around £9.99

Econation DIY speakers, around £15

Enjoy your shopping!

With love,

the shopping asparagus.