When – at 15 – I decided I would be a journalist, the outlook was always one of low pay, limited job opportunities and no job security.
Universities were (and still are) busily churning out journalism graduates who would never be journalists.
Rather than focusing on this, I decided to do whatever it took to land a job.
So I worked for free. A lot.
Once a week for a year while I was studying I drove out to a tiny town of 5,000 people and worked for free at their weekly paper. It was a one-man paper – the editor was everything from the journalist to the cleaner and he gave me the front page on my first day.
On top of this I did every internship I could get my hands on – as my lecturer (a tough former journalist) said “no one gives a f*** about your marks it’s all about the ‘thud factor’ – the heavier your pile of published articles the bigger the thud when it hits an editor’s desk.”
When I graduated from journalism just as the global financial crisis hit the advice was doom, gloom and lower the hell out of your expectations.
However, all the free work finally paid me back with a ‘thud factor’ that landed me a cadetship at Australia’s national news wire.
I spent three years as a journalist – no two days were the same. My press pass gave me access to an incredible range of people and places. One day I found myself standing in the biggest dry dock (where they fix ships) in the southern hemisphere, another day I was underground in a massive (yet to be used) pipe at a waste management facility. I talked to politicians, scientists, artists, victims of crime, parents of children with heartbreaking medical conditions.
Eventually a pretty brutal cycle of night shifts, early starts and weekend work wore me down and when my long term relationship with the man I’d been with since university fell apart I left journalism and the city as well.
I went back to my hometown and started doing a masters degree in ancient history with the plan of becoming a teacher.
I lived in a share house with a couple and I guy I really didn’t get along with (I would have laughed in your face if you told me he would become my fiance but that’s what happened!)
My disagreeable flat mate – eventual fiance – and I became good friends over the months and then, after a rock climbing accident that left me with a chipped bone in my ankle, we got together. We laugh about it but after the fall I suddenly saw how much he had been taking care of me. He took me to get pain killers and also bought ice cream (I had to explain that ice cream is for when you are sad not when you are in pain!)
I’d always wanted to work a season at the snow and had applied to work a season here in Australia – I attended training on crutches.
Peter’s job happened to finish up not long before I left for the snow so he came with me. We were hooked and went on to work a season at the snow in Japan before returning to the world of real jobs.
At this point I had my luckiest career break. A friend told me a state government minister was looking for a media advisor. His staff were one of those rare groups of people where somehow everyone just clicks. They were like family. I stayed through three portfolios, an election and a change of premier. Leaving was one of the hardest things I’ve done but it was taking everything out of me.
I went to Taiwan and came back to a job at communications consultancy where I was quickly seconded out to a state government agency. Again I was lucky, meeting some people who are now like family to me but I was also unlucky ending up in a toxic situation that drained me. I was eventually sent back to the consultancy and quit the same day.
So here I am. Officially unemployed.
Already I feel a thousand times better than I did two weeks ago.
What’s next? I’ll be posting more soon.
In the meantime I leave you with the quote on this random jumper I saw in mode off (possibly the best second hand clothes chain ever!) in Japan:
“No need to rush now. It is dangerous to run about in the dark.”