While Love Island may ultimately be a dating show, contestants often leave the ITV villa with a lot more than a holiday romance.
With around 100,000 applicants competing for a place on last summer’s series, it’s no secret that a stint in the villa can lead to some lucrative financial prospects.
From the millions of Instagram followers that some Islanders go on to gain, to the eye-watering brand deals that others have secured, an appearance on Love Island can do a lot for a person’s career. And with the show set to return for a winter series later this month, a whole host of new hopefuls will be preparing to enter the spotlight.
But not everyone is as interested in pursuing a career in the public eye once they’re dumped from the villa. In fact, more than 130 of the show’s 259 contestants have returned to their day jobs, working in everything from hospitality to healthcare.
So, what is life really like for Love Islanders when their tan lines fade and normality resumes? Let’s take a peek…
Paige Thorne, paramedic
“I’ll always remember the day my three year old brother’s lips turned blue. My mum screamed at the sight of him unable to catch his breath. I was 13 but, despite the fear, I was able to calm both of them down and my brother stopped panicking and his breathing returned to normal. At that moment, I knew I wanted to help more people.
I qualified as a paramedic in 2019 and one of my first calls was to a critical medical emergency. I was told that the patient wasn’t expected to walk again, but I managed to stabilise him and get him to hospital. A few months later, I learned that he’d defied the odds and made a full recovery. Thinking about it makes me shiver.
Because of things like this, I always planned to return to my job after Love Island. I’m on what’s called a bank contract, so I can choose my shifts but I dedicate one day every week to paramedic related work.
My colleagues have been so supportive of my return to work. The firefighters at my base even recorded episodes of the show to watch together and were keen to analyse my love life in the staff room!
I feel like I’m living a double life. When I’m in Swansea, I’m Paige the paramedic. On a 12-hour shift, I’ll deal with everything from elderly falls to cardiac arrests and I drive the ambulance on blue lights. However, when I’m in London, I’m Paige from Love Island. It’s a lot more glam as I’m meeting celebs, walking red carpets and doing photoshoots.
Being in the villa taught me how to navigate tough conversations and learn to compromise. That’s something that’s made me a better paramedic.
Since being on the show, naturally I’m recognised more. Once I was shopping when a lady told me that I’d been to an emergency call involving her dad. Unfortunately it wasn’t a good outcome, but she praised me for being there – it warmed my heart to be recognised for my hard work.
It’s easy for people to get caught up with being in the public eye. My advice to new love islanders is that it’s important to remember who you were before the show. Having my job helps me stay grounded and is a great way of forgetting about the drama of the villa.”
Rachel Finni, corporate hospitality representative
“After being put on furlough, I wanted to enjoy my final year of being in my 20s so entered Love Island for fun.
For six months after the show, I was going out every night and made ridiculous amounts of money but burned out and started looking for a more ‘normal’ job.
Despite being confident with my expertise, I was concerned about putting myself out there. I was worried that people would see me as 'the Love Island girl’ or would call me in for an interview purely because of the show.
I was careful not to bring Love Island up but I did refer to it on my CV, saying that I ‘appeared on one of the UK’s biggest reality TV shows during my time on furlough’ to show my initiative.
Thanks to that drive I secured a role as a corporate hospitality representative for two hotels in London at the end of 2021.
When I first started my job people would ask questions, so I told everyone to get it out of their system if they wanted to know something.
I work with clients, 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.
On the plus side, Love Island has helped me become a better salesperson by showing me how to really make an impact on people.
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.
If I want a bit of pocket money, I can agree to do a job and take it on. It’s the best of both worlds.”
Tyler Cruickshank, trainee lawyer
“I went to university to study law with the intention of becoming a commercial lawyer. However, after graduating I didn’t have the resources to continue studying so I became an estate agent. I made decent money, but it wasn’t what I wanted to do.
I remember my parents offering to pay for my postgraduate course, but I didn’t want to take their money. Then Love Island came calling and put me in a position that allowed me to continue my legal studies. Not many people talk about how expensive it is to become a solicitor.
I loved my time in the villa – it was straight after lockdown, so I went on the show to have fun and meet new people. I initially worried that I wouldn’t be taken seriously as a result in the legal field, but I had the confidence that my passion and drive would speak for itself.
In August this year, I enrolled on a Solicitors Qualifying Exam course and I’ll be qualified in two years. I graduated in 2018, so going from working a 9-5 to revising for exams was a huge adjustment.
People are shocked when they find out about my interest in law. I went to a legal event this year where a lot of people assumed that I was there as a celebrity guest, rather than a student.
For me, law has always been the long term goal. It’s a sustainable career that I can imagine myself enjoying in 10 years time.
In the future, I’d love to open up my own law firm and show people that no matter your background, law is a career that is open to everyone.”
Abigail Rawlings, tattoo artist
“Before going on Love Island, I made a promise to my dad that I wouldn’t lose myself. Tattooing has been my entire identity since I was 18, so I was never going to stop. When I was in the villa and I couldn’t draw or be creative, I felt deprived of who I was. I went back to work because I wanted my identity back.
After leaving the show I took some time away from my job to adjust to my new life as a reality star. I thought I’d cope really well with the limelight. However, I became quite anxious. I even went shopping in sunglasses to avoid attention. I knew I needed to step back for it to become more manageable.
In April I opened up my private salon and I had loads of panicked messages from clients who were worried that I wouldn’t be able to finish their tattoos because they thought I’d moved into reality TV for good. While my tattoo Instagram account has tripled, my workload hasn’t increased. I’ve just had to say no to more people.
Tattooing is like therapy and I’m very open with my clients. A lot of them ask about the show, but some have no idea what Love Island even is.
I’ve met so many women who criticise themselves for having cellulite and stretch marks but as soon as I give them a tattoo, they fall in love with their skin. That’s my favourite part of the job.
With my platform, I spend a few days a week creating social media content and then I do tattooing the rest of the time. I finally feel at peace.”
Amy Day, property negotiator
“Property is something I’ve done for eight years and returned to three months after appearing on Love Island. I’m self-employed, so I’ve always been aware of the need to keep working.
When I came out of the villa, my life was crazy. I'd do my 9-5 and then go to an event in the evening. I filled weekends with glam photoshoots which I posted during the week so it looked like I was living my best life, when really I was in the office.
In February 2022 I started a full-time job as a property negotiator. It allowed me to buy my own flat and also served as a good distraction from a breakup I was going through.
My colleagues think it’s great that I’ve been on Love Island. It’s made them realise that reality TV stars are just like everyone else.
My role is quite glamorous because the properties are so lovely. At the moment I sell newbuilds in West London. Whenever anyone recognises me, I rush out to get some water or a coffee. One time I was asked for a photo but I had to decline as I didn’t think it’d be professional.
My family joke that I should become the UK’s Christine Quinn because during lockdown I sold a £2.4million house. I felt like I was on Selling Sunset, but instead I was Selling Surbiton.”
Jay Younger, investment analyst
“When I was approached to go on Love Island, I sat down with the founder of my company and asked them whether they thought going into the villa would impact my career. I’d been working in finance for five years, so I didn't want to jeopardise my hard work.
Luckily, they couldn’t have been nicer. They said that what I did in my spare time was up to me and encouraged me to take the opportunity.
Despite having their backing, I found it hard to relax in the villa. I was always aware that I was representing my employer, so I wasn’t fully able to let my guard down.
I went back to work in the first week of August, three weeks after leaving the show. Most of the time I’m researching stock markets, so it’s not very client facing. However, I once had a meeting with a consultant who said: ‘Jay, I really enjoyed watching you on Love Island’. I took it on the chin, so I joked: ‘Well, make sure you make your decision based on the interview and not the show.’
While I’d never do social media full time, I love being able to combine my love for fitness and finance. By day, I’m in the office and by night I’m at the gym and sharing insights into my fitness routine.”
Rachel Fenton, nurse
“After leaving the villa, I partied non-stop and went to glitzy events. It was fun, but it wasn't really me. So I returned to work as a trauma and orthopaedic nurse within two weeks.
Being in the public eye was very overwhelming. I remember being in Bluewater shopping centre in Essex when a group of teenagers ran up to me, asking for pictures.
The fame was tricky to navigate. I wanted to share updates from work, but being a nurse requires confidentiality. I posted a selfie in my scrubs and a doctor sternly told me not to do that again.
For a year I spent lunch breaks getting glammed up so that colleagues could take photos of me for brand deals. Despite loving the social media side of things, I felt like I wasn’t doing both jobs as well as I could, and I knew that I wanted to focus on nursing.
It was really hard talking a step back from the Love Island lifestyle and in particular the money involved. Nursing has always been my priority, but one social media post paid triple that of a 12-hour shift.
I now work in Dubai as a nurse and I’m extremely content. After three years at university and endless amounts of placements, I’m able to make a difference and use my following to inspire future nurses.”
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