Today marks two years since my last published piece. I’d been covering Geelong’s celebrations after the Cats won the 2007 AFL Grand Final over Port Adelaide by a record margin of 119 points. My name was in ink on the front page of The Australian. Not a bad effort for a third-year journalism student, I thought.
The front page was the climax to an exciting three-week internship that saw me covering events including the Robert Farquharson triple murder case in the Supreme Court, and the dumping of the little girl dubbed ‘Pumpkin’ at Southern Cross Station. In that time, I managed to have twelve articles published in our biggest selling national newspaper. However, my aspirations to become a journalist are still yet to be realised.
I hated English at secondary school. I was always an analytical person achieving better marks in mathematics and accounting. For me, exploring themes from fictional books and reading Shakespeare was up there with washing the dishes or cleaning my room. Even so, since I was 16 I had wanted to be a journalist. Not a TV newsreader or a travel writer or even a sports journalist. No, I wanted to be a “real” journalist who covered politics, business, crime, war and disasters. So I went to La Trobe University to study journalism.
I loved my degree. I knew I was doing what I wanted to do. And looking back now, I realise I learnt a lot in those three years. However, one of the best decisions I made was to get a “real” job midway through my degree — a part-time position in online advertising for realestate.com.au. It was my first insight into the corporate world and provided me with an array of skills and knowledge that can be used across any industry.
Most importantly, it gave me an 18-month advantage over other university graduates when I finished my degree at the end of 2007. So when I moved to London last year after travelling around Europe for three months, it was easy for me to turn my back on a minimum wage pub job serving Guinness, in favour of a much higher salary and fancier job title at MySpace — and luckily for me, just before the global economic crisis kicked in.
Now I know what you’re thinking — Who uses MySpace? Well, no-one anymore really, which is why I took voluntary redundancy a few months ago. While for many, unemployment was a devastating predicament, for me it opened up new opportunities. Today, I’m working for an online advertising technology company called the Rubicon Project. Based in the company’s London office, I am responsible for the revenue and delivery of advertising on some of Europe’s biggest websites. In just two months, my job has taken me to Los Angeles, Germany, and in November, back to Australia.
Some people say I’ve just been lucky achieving what I have so far. I completely disagree. The best advice I’ve received came from my uncle eight years ago. Talking about making the most of opportunities, he told me: “just say yes, and deal with the consequences later”. While it may sound a little contentious, it’s what I’ve done. I’ve made the most of my opportunities.
If you’re graduating from your degree later this year, don’t be worried if you don’t find your dream job straight away. Don’t be afraid of leaving your comfort zone and exploring alternative opportunities. Who knows where it’s going to take you?
Upstart is keen to hear from other journalism graduates about their early career experiences. La Trobe graduates can also contact us if you’d like to add or update your “Where are they now?” graduate profile on the site.