Jo Usmar

Jo Usmar graduated in 2005 with a degree in English. She is now a columnist for Cosmopolitan magazine and a freelance writer, working for titles including Fabulous, Stylist, Heat, The Mirror, and Look. She was even one of the first journalists to interview One Direction! Jo has also co-authored a series of self-help books for women.

What was the best thing about studying at Birmingham?

“I loved the fun, inclusive and creative English course at Birmingham. It was great to be taught by experts and academics I admired who encouraged me to pursue my personal interests. I was able to indulge my obsession with Roald Dahl and fairy tales in my dissertation - and I got a first for it, which blew me away. That support boosted my confidence and gave me faith in my ability as a writer. Now I get to write for a living, which is all I’ve ever wanted to do.”

What’s the best thing about your job?

“Having my own column in Cosmo allows me to rant away to my heart’s content in my own voice which is a rare opportunity and a privilege I don’t take for granted. As a freelancer I have written about so many different things – from interviewing Heston Blumenthal for Heat to writing about the London riots for Stylist to interviewing psychologists on health issues for Fabulous. I love everything about my job. (Actually, that’s a lie - I hate deadlines!)”

What advice would you give to current students?

“I knew I wanted to get into television or magazines and so hunted down opportunities myself. I worked on the student newspaper and radio station during my time at university. Getting involved in extra-curricular activities and doing work experience during this time can really help in building your CV – but be prepared to work for free and make thousands of cups of tea. And make sure you make the most of the nightlife in Birmingham as it’s brilliant. My university years were definitely some of the best of my life.”