The Girl Who Lives To Write

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Michelle Yee is an editor at Wine & Dine, Singapore’s longest-running gourmet food and wine magazine. But her journey as a writer meandered through various topics, giving her insights into a myriad of industries.

She didn’t plan on becoming a writer actually. As a child, she really, really liked art, and dreamt of being an artist/painter or working as an art gallery curator. She graduated from arts school, then fell into the world of writing as an art.

What Does A Career In Print Media Look Like?

Her first job was writing for two magazines, Cubes and Lookbox, which took her into the realm of interior, architecture and product design. She excelled in her first job due to her good command of English, an ability to write quickly, and having an experienced editor to guide her.

She says,

“Keep writing because that is the only way you’ll improve. Reading articles from established writers will also help you to write better.”.

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“I’ve always loved writing since I was young. Back in school, English was my favourite subject and I excelled in creative writing and composition. I fell into the job after graduation and never looked back.”

A year later, Michelle joined Top Gear, which led her into a male-dominated industry. Not to be intimidated, she proactively took the effort to learn what she could about cars.

Her ability to tackle new and unfamiliar topics was a plus when she joined Regent Media, writing about travel topics for Lonely Planet and Escape, then switching to Food & Travel magazine. It was sometime during her seven years at Regent Media that she met the Employment & Employability Institute (e2i) at a few events.

 

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Write-up of e2i’s Sake Masterclass in Food & Travel magazine

She didn’t stop there, but also freelanced for PropertyGuru, learning the industry jargon and new ways to frame the contents for readership.

Accelerating Her Career under e2i’s Place-and-Train

After Michelle left Regent Media, she was placed-and-trained by e2i in her new employer – Wine & Dine Magazine.

During the first six months after she was placed as a Trainee, Michelle undertook a structured training programme that consisted of an external certifiable course and attending e2i events (such as masterclasses) to speed up her industry knowledge.

At the end of six months, she had completed both Level 1 and 2 of the WSET (Wine & Spirit Education Trust) wine course and was promoted to deputy editor with a pay raise.

For comparison, typically a new trainee would take one and a half years just to reach a similar level of industry training and exposure.

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On her typical workday: “Every day is different. There are some weeks when it is pretty quiet, so I can get quite a bit of writing done. But there are also weeks where there are events, photoshoots, tastings, client meetings and interviews scheduled every other day. Mornings are usually spent replying emails, planning story outlines, internal meetings with colleagues. There are usually events and tastings to attend in afternoons (about 3 times a week), or interviews to attend.”

Michelle continued to complete a web communications course and has signed up for the Level 3 WSET course, all while working her way up to the editor role in just one and a half years since she joined Wine & Dine magazine.

Her next goal is to expand Wine & Dine’s online presence to reach out to more people who are genuinely interested in food. For example, she aims to create more awareness of the story behind food establishments, food culture and ingredients.

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Michelle using her digital skills to capture the art of matcha-making. She says: “We are in a digital age, so some of the skills that are good to acquire include social media marketing skills, some basic video editing skills, digital marketing skills, and above all, the ability to adapt to changes will help you to excel in the industry.”

Helping The F&B Sector

Michelle feels great empathy for this sector especially for struggling F&B businesses, whose food may be very good but unfortunately close down.

“It is disheartening to hear of restaurant closures, especially those that are outstanding but are forced to close due to manpower and rental issues.”.

She hopes the local community will grow and help each other, be it supporting local chefs or local businesses.

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Michelle at Glasshouse, a café featured in SG Top Cafés Guide. She wants more people to know they can turn to e2i, either as a worker for training or job placement if they are retrenched, or a business for productivity, job redesign and find talents via Place-and-Train.

In her multiple encounters with e2i, Michelle shared her impression of e2i staff being approachable and helpful.

She remembers how e2i organised masterclasses (e.g. in champagne and sake) to bring up the knowledge and exposure of trade professionals to speed, and she appreciates companies who really take the effort to invest in staff and send them for courses.

Supporting Local Cafes

To support local cafés and celebrate the evolution and growth of Singapore’s café scene, Wine & Dine and e2i launched the SG Top Cafés Guide on 8th March 2019.

Whilst visiting the cafés and interacting with staff and café owners, e2i also aims to help these cafés with placement, training and career progression.

Michelle emphasises the need for better careers in F&B.

“We need to create a more conducive environment that will encourage young talents to join and stay in the industry. A lot of young Singaporeans do not see service and as a career but as a part time job. But this is not the case in Europe or Japan.

We need passionate and talented people to take the F&B scene to the next level, but in order to retain talent, there has to be perks, benefits, career progression and a decent wage.”.

Special thanks to Michelle Yee, Editor at Wine & Dine magazine, and the Employment & Employability Institute (e2i) for arranging the interview.

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