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ATAR – It’s not the end of the world, just High School

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My High School best friend and I after our last ever assembly.

In August this year I came up with the idea of Career Crush. I had been applying for countless internships in journalism at the time and found myself googling journalists’ backgrounds in the attempt to find their story of how they got into the field.

I was intrigued that there wasn’t much information out there of how to actually land a job. There’s countless university courses (which aren’t always the easiest to get into – yep, I’m a RMIT failed applicant!) but the actual information of how to land an internship, whether you need to start in a country paper or if it’s really all about who you know was absolutely no where to be found.

I wanted to know if these journos dreamed of this career in high school. Did they choose VCE subjects that specifically related to journalism? Did they go to university, and was the course any good? How many jobs rejected them before they landed one?

I was interning at Australian Associated Press when I was asked by one of the journos if I blog. I’d always had a fear of blogging – I mean, to search, produce and edit all by myself? What happens if my grammar isn’t perfect, or if my angle changes? I decided to keep those fears to myself and tell him about my idea for this blog. He told me to go for it.

From that moment I decided to do it. I knew I wanted to launch on the the same day that Victorian VCE students receive their ATAR scores. Why? Because a number on a page shouldn’t determine your future. And when there are newly graduated 18-year-olds feeling disappointed, failed and like a giant brick wall has just been built in front of them, I wanted them to have this blog to read to know there’s so many pathways to get to where you want to be regardless of a couple of numbers.

When I was in high school, and I decided I wanted to be a journalist, I researched which university in Victoria had the best program to get me there, low and behold, RMIT was one of the best, and so that became my dream – RMIT journalism. I didn’t even bother going to any other university open days because RMIT was where I was going.

The day I received my ATAR score I had an interview with the careers counselor at my high school to ensure my university selections were in line with my results. They weren’t. I don’t remember exactly what I received, but I know my ATAR was somewhere in to 50’s – no where near the RMIT entrance score of 87. I spent three hours crying in the school’s courtyard while countless teachers tried to console me. Not even one of them said that I couldn’t achieve my dreams.

The next few years I spent working full-time and attending three universities(two on campus and one online) before I found Macleay College, and industry specific university whose tutors are working journalists form media outlets such as 3AW, the Herald Sun and Domain. The assessments are industry related, hands-on work that real working journalists would produce.

I graduated with a Diploma of Journalism in May this year. It wasn’t an easy pathway, and at times I wanted to throw in the towel, but I knew this is where I wanted to be I just needed a pathway to get here.

Sometimes I think it would of been a hell of a lot easier if I got into RMIT, but I believe the setbacks taught me valuable life lessons (I was always a super organised planner who really grilled myself if things didn’t go to plan, whereas now I’m open to new pathways and going with the flow). I also think that if I didn’t take this pathway to journalism then I probably wouldn’t be as dedicated and determined as I am now to achieve it.

Remember, it doesn’t always need to happen the way you’ve planned. My sister, Amanda, once told me, “It doesn’t matter where you’re going, you just need to get started.” So cheer up, that score is simply a number to finish off high school, only you know what you’re truly capable of and only you can prove it.

So what are you waiting for?

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