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University of South Australia

  • 17% international / 83% domestic

Emma Warren

Whilst studying my double degree between 2014-2018, I was working part time at a cafe.

What did you study at undergraduate level and when did you graduate? What are you studying now? Are you studying and working at the same time?

I studied a double degree - Bachelor of Journalism & Professional Writing / Bachelor of Arts (English & Creative Writing). Whilst studying my double degree between 2014-2018, I was working part time at a cafe. After graduating in 2018, I received a full time position as a Marketing Assistant at an accounting firm in Melbourne.

What have been the most important stages of your life?

I feel as though my life so far can be split into three phases: school, university, and work. Each phase has enabled me to step into the next. Without my school experience, I would not have been able to start university. Without my university experience, I would not have obtained my current job. Working has been the most fulfilling stage in my life, as I feel like I have been gradually pursuing it for a number of years. I am utilising my skills from my education to succeed in my career, and it feels as though I am finally having making an impact for a company and contributing to the community.

How did you get to your current (or most recent) job position and how long have you been working there?

I am currently a Marketing Assistant at an accounting firm in Melbourne. I have now been working in this position for nine months. I studied in Adelaide, so I made the decision after graduation to move to Melbourne and take on this role. This was a large decision which meant leaving my family and friends behind. However, the confidence I had grown throughout my studies enabled me to take the huge leap. My university qualifications were crucial for obtaining this role. My employer was seeking somebody who was at graduate level and who was prepared to work quite independently in a small team. It was very nerve-wracking to complete studying and move into a new era of my life. Jobs available in communications often have strong competition between applicants. At university, I was warned of this by my tutors and given useful advice about how to stand out. The main advice provided to me was to seek internships in the industry so I could get real life experience and start networking.

What made you decide to progress with further study?

I always had an interest in English & Communications, so it almost felt 'obvious' that I would continue on to tertiary study and delve further into this area of expertise. It was important to me that I was not only good at English but enjoyed it. Throughout high school, I came to understand that my passion lay in the communications area. Enjoying what I did certainly made studying easier. It felt less like 'work' and encouraged me to push harder to learn and achieve more. My older brother and father studied at university, and although there was no expectation for me to follow a similar path, I had seen how their studies had excelled their careers and I wanted the same for myself.

How did you choose your particular further study course (compared to others)? / Were you weighing up any alternative degrees or career pathways before choosing this qualification?

Throughout high school, I not only excelled in English, but I found it very enjoyable. It seemed logical for me to pursue a Communications course so I could eventually work in that area too. My high school friends struggled with their decision of what course to begin. More than half of my friends began a tertiary course and then transferred to another after the first or second semester. I am thankful that my path to choosing a course was simpler than theirs, however ultimately it did not matter that it took them an extra six or twelve months to understand what they wanted to do. They got there in the end, and their persistence with finding a course that perfectly suited them paid off. The only difficult decision for me was choosing which university to study communications in. There were three major universities in South Australia. I chose the University of South Australia because of their emphasis on practical, hands-on study. They also had a campus close to my home.

What was the process to get accepted into your course? What were the prerequisites?

To get automatically accepted into my course, I needed an ATAR of 94. I worked extremely hard throughout Year 12 to achieve this goal and was thankful when I did. The prerequisites were having studied English during year 12, which I had done. If I had not achieved a 94 ATAR, I could have spoken to the university and discussed my options. University staff were always knowledgeable, friendly and thoughtful so I felt comfortable approaching them if I ever needed to.

What does your study involve? Can you describe a typical day? (if it’s difficult to describe a typical day, tell us about the last thing you worked on?)

Each semester, I studied four different courses. They would typically be: one Journalism course, one Creative Writing course, and two general communications courses and/or electives. Some courses were more intensive than others. My peers would agree with this. However, it was often those work-heavy courses where I learnt the most and gained real knowledge that has ultimately helped me in my career. Each course would have three or four assignments/projects which would encompass everything learnt in the course and would determine my overall grade. The assignments were varied - essays, oral presentations, stories, videos, audio recordings. I never had to complete a formal exam during my course, which suited me greatly as I often perform better when not in a time pressure environment. There were often multiple days or times offered for attending tutorials, so I was able to fit all my lessons within three days of the week.

This allowed me to work part time at a cafe for the other four days of the week. There was, of course, homework involved with the courses, so I had to allow some time for that. I found it easiest to complete my homework in the university library where I would not have any disruptions. Therefore, I would often stay back late on the days where I was already at university. The university had a lot of facilities which enabled me to do my 'home' study whilst at campus. There were kitchens, ample computers, lounges, outdoor grass areas and more.

Will this course be beneficial in your career? Where could you or others in your position go from here? Please explain your answer.

My course was vital for my future career. The qualifications I received put me a head above others in the job application process. Furthermore, the skills and knowledge that I acquired have allowed me to feel comfortable in my role and not struggling to keep with the work required of me.

Those who studied my course were open to a wide range of possible careers in the communications realm. In fact, my peers went on to be editors, freelancers, photographers, writers, advertisers, videographers, novelists, researchers, and more. I did not feel 'locked in' to one specific career, and I enjoyed gaining a wide range of knowledge. My employer is grateful for it because I am capable of more than just Marketing. I also assist with website maintenance, internal communications and some administrative work.

What do you love the most about your course? 

I loved that my course was general enough to incorporate all areas of communication, and not just Journalism. Although Journalism was a large part of my learning, I also studied about Marketing, Public Relations, Editing, Photography, and Graphic Design. Because I was given a number of electives in my final four semesters, I was able to choose courses that suited me. By this point, two years into my study, I had discovered a passion for Marketing communications, so I ensured my electives were in this area.

That experience was what allowed me to land my job in Marketing. I was grateful that my tutors had worked in the industry they were teaching about, so they could draw upon and share details of their real-world experience. This was invaluable. They provided advice into what employers were looking for, and how to deal with common problems that arise in the workforce. It was beneficial that the university lend students the equipment they needed to complete their courses. For example, I could borrow audio recorders, cameras, textbooks and computers. I also had access to filming studios and radio studios.

What are the limitations of your course?

To get the most out my course, it was vital that I attended classes in-person. Much of the work we did was practical based, so students needed to be present in order to watch demonstrations. For example, one of my most work intensive courses was Television Journalism. This involved borrowing the university cameras and presenting to the camera. To use the cameras and learn from our tutors how to use them, we needed to be present at university. This double degree is not one which can be completed from home or online. The extra effort, however, was worth it, as the practical experience was highly looked upon by employers. The chance to interact with other students during in-person tutorials was also beneficial, as we could support each other in our learning.

Which three pieces of advice would you give to a current undergraduate student? They don’t necessarily have to be related to your studies, or even to one’s professional life.

The main pieces of advice I would give to a current undergraduate student are:

  • Don't panic, be persistent, and seek guidance. University isn't a walk in the park.
  • Neither is getting a job after you've finished your studies. It feels disheartening if you don't immediately receive a job after completing your degree. But with persistence, confidence, time, energy, and the advice of others, you will eventually get there.
  • Nothing good comes easy.