20something profile: Alex
When I grew up, I wanted to be an actress, author, astronaut, architect and finally in advertising — in that order. I was 22 when I realised that all of those professions started with ‘a’.
Now I’m breaking the mould and going with journalist — otherwise known as writer, blogger and serial participant in internships. I currently intern at Mamamia.com.au, a website I’ve loved for years and is pretty much my dream internship. I’d be there every day if I could. Unfortunately, I can’t — the rest of my time is taken up with getting my Master’s in Journalism.
I did give the advertising thing a go: I got a degree, I worked in a range of marketing, public relations and social media roles, I quickly worked out that advertising was nothing like Mad Men said it would be. Seriously, in the two years following uni, I worked in so many different places my résumé looks like Swiss Cheese — yummy, but plenty of holes.
Advertising just wasn’t for me. Journalism is where it’s at.
Why didn’t I study journalism in the first place? For the most part, it was fear. I didn’t think I was good enough, I didn’t think there were any jobs, and even if I could get one, I didn’t think I’d earn much money.
At 17, I had no self-belief and was easily swayed by adults telling me how the world worked.
When I moved to London at the age of 21, everything changed. The amazing thing about moving to a new city — in another country — is that you can be anyone you want.
Well, that’s what they told me, anyway. In reality, your fundamental personality does not change one iota. You will not magically become that spontaneous, highly motivated and incredibly good looking person, kind of like a cross between every Zooey Deschanel character ever.
What you will get is some space. Some change in perspective. A quietness that is the absence of family and friends and what you did last weekend. A sense of adventure. A desire to be inspired.
So this is my advice to anyone who’s unsure of what they want to do: take some time out. Get your passport photos taken, save up some money, and leave. It doesn’t matter if it’s for two weeks or two years; just give yourself some breathing space.
My other piece of advice is don’t take too long. I was at a conference recently where the speaker asked the audience if, as a high school student, they knew that their current job even existed.
Only three people raised their hand.
The lesson to learn here is that what you end up doing may be completely different to what you start out doing. Have direction, but also have an open mind.
As for myself? I’m currently studying, interning, blogging and job hunting. I’m broke, but I’m happier than I ever was earning money full time. I’ve finally found something I’m passionate about, and in the end, that’s all that matters.