‘I went on Love Island but returned to my 9-5 – there’s more to me than a TV show’

While an appearance on Love Island can launch you into a world of newfound fame and a huge social media following, not every contestant is interested in carving out a career in the spotlight.

From Dr Alex George returning to A&E to Georgia Townend going back to her marketing job, some Islanders have turned down the Influencer/celebrity lifestyle in favor of climbing the corporate ladder.

Here, former Love Island 2021 contestant Rachel Finni talks to OK! about the realities of returning to the workplace after a stint on the show, including potentially awkward job interviews, the stigma of wearing a bikini on TV and questions from curious colleagues…

“After being put on furlough from my job in hospitality, I decided to do something different with my time.

I’d just come out of a four and a half year relationship and I was 29 and wanted to enjoy my final year of being in my 20s. What better way to celebrate than to go on Love Island and potentially fall in love?

Rachel Finni appeared on Love Island last year

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Despite the fun of it all, as the application process got serious, I started to think about my job – at the time it paid the bills, but that was it.

Then one day, after meeting up with some producers from ITV, I got an overwhelming feeling that told me I should quit work.

I was in a taxi on my way back from talks with the Love Island team when I took out my phone only to see that I’d received a horrible email from my boss. I decided to send in my resignation there and then. It was one of the most empowering things I’ve ever done.

A short while after, I flew out to Majorca to enter the Love Island villa. I spent nine days there before I was evicted and was then met with a flood of brand deals when I left.

I spent the next six months ‘influencing’ and living a celebrity lifestyle. I was going out every night and, for the first two months, it was effortless.

I made ridiculous amounts of money but I quickly burned myself out.

Eventually, as more contestants left the villa, I found that those with bigger followings started getting better jobs. Around three months into my influencing career, the work had died down.

Rachel began to do some influencing work after appearing on the show
Rachel began to do some influencing work after appearing on the show

As a result, I started looking for a more ‘normal’ job – I didn’t care enough about fame to keep chasing the influencer lifestyle.

It may not be the typical thing that Love Islanders do, but for me, returning to a nine to five job was an easy decision to make. I’d worked in hospitality for 12 years, gone to law school and got a business degree. I wasn’t going to throw that hard work away.

When I told other Love Islanders that I was going back to the office, I got nice responses. Some said that they were doing it too while others wished that they could do the same but felt compelled to make a celebrity life work for them.

And though I was confident with my career expertise, two things did concern me about putting myself out there on the job market again.

For each application form I filled in, I was worried that people would recognise my name and just see me as ‘the Love Island girl’. I’m established in my industry, but would people forget all about that?

Rachel was worried that people would see her as someone who simply appeared on Love Island
Rachel was worried that people would see her as someone who simply appeared on Love Island

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I was also worried about people calling me in for an interview purely because of the show. Looking back, I think some people interviewed me just so they could say they’d met a Love Islander.

I was careful not to bring Love Island up in interviews but I did vaguely mention it on my CV. When selling myself, I wrote ‘appeared on one of the UK’s biggest reality TV shows during my time on furlough’ to demonstrate that I’ve got initiative.

Sometimes interviewers would want to know more, or I could tell in their eyes that they’d seen me on the show, and I’d be honest. I’d tell them that I was creating an opportunity for myself.

Thanks to that drive I was able to prove that there’s more to me than just a TV show and I secured a role that was perfect for me as a corporate hospitality representative for two hotels in London at the end of 2021.

Beginning work again was filled with all the typical new job nerves, but on top of that was the uncertainty of how the show could affect me.

When I first started my new job people would come up to my desk and say ‘I’m sorry but I just have to ask this’, so I told everyone to get it out of their system if they wanted to know something.

Rachel says that she is sometimes recognised by colleagues and clients
Rachel says that she is sometimes recognised by colleagues and clients

I work in a client-facing role, so there have been times where I’ve been speaking during an appointment and I can tell that they’re eager to ask me about the villa.

It’s difficult because people always ask vague questions like ‘how was it?’ And then I never know what details to share as a lot of the emotional side of things is too personal for a workplace.

Otherwise they ask me random questions like ‘did you get to go in the pool?’ or ‘what did you eat in the villa?’ They want to know all the secrets. Finding someone who went on Love Island is like finding a needle in the haystack, so it’s understandable.

Admittedly I’m recognised a lot less now, but I still sometimes wear a mask on my commute to prevent any potential awkward encounters.

Professionally, the positives outweigh the negatives and I don’t regret going on the show but sometimes I’ve seen clients view me on LinkedIn just to check that I’m qualified for the job.

I also think male attention in the workplace is very irritating since being on the show and it feels like some look at me differently because I wore a bikini in the villa.

Rachel still does some influencing, but her main income comes from her corporate job
Rachel still does some influencing, but her main income comes from her corporate job

On the plus side, Love Island has allowed me to see everything with my eyes wide open and it’s helped me become a better salesperson by showing me how to really make an impact on people.

Though I sometimes wish that I was on the program for longer, I’m content with how everything has turned out. I can pick and choose between having a public and private life.

Although my main source of income is my nine to five, I still earn a good amount from influencing – sometimes even more than my monthly salary from my corporate job.

If I want a bit of pocket money, or if I want to pay for a holiday, I can agree to do a job and take it on. It’s the best of both worlds.”

Love Island continues on ITV2 at 9pm.

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