The concept ‘Snagging six figures’ was created after we had readers writing in asking for advice about how to use their degree and current job skills to launch into a different industry or career. We know that no one career story is the same, but telling the stories of others can challenge, inspire and shape your own. We are asking every interview the same five questions:
- Why they picked their course
- Their course experience
- Their first job
- What they learnt
- Their next step
- And their advice
Why I picked my course
I studied a double degree: Bachelor of Communications/Business. In communications I majored in Public Relations and marketing for business, which gave me a lot of variety and allowed me to narrow down on what I truly loved.
I didn’t fully know what I wanted to study or what I wanted my career to be when I started. Doing a double allowed me to explore what I was really interested in and what I enjoyed (which at the time was writing and being around people) but with the flexibility to change if I needed to. I could have dropped one side of the degree.
Bachelor of Communications/Business.
I absolutely loved my course and university. Something I will say is that CSU has the highest employment rate of any university, which I think is largely attributed to the staff going above and beyond. Beyond our classes, I felt I could contact any tutor whenever I wanted. Some even offered to catch up for a coffee for a regular basis: proof-reading cover letters and offering much needed career advice. My first job was actually an introduction from someone at the university. I can’t speak for every faculty, but I felt really nurtured and supported and… just ready for the working world coming from the Communications department.
My first job
I started as the Projects Manager for Communications, so I managed anything from social and digital media, traditional public relations, events, advertising, marketing and even sometimes graphic design.
I had imagined working for a big corporate or PR firm. But interning in corporate and commercial public relations was quite a turn off: realising that the entry-level tasks lacked meaning and the chance to be creative.
At uni, you spend a lot of time on learning to create campaigns and write media releases. But in many entry-level roles: there’s no chance to be nearly as creative. You are really just executing the plans and ideas of others.
But working at a charity was completely different. When you work in marketing for non-profits most of what you are doing is sharing the stories of very deserving and inspiring people. One day I could be creating our content calendar, analysing our social media efforts and posting on Facebook. The next day could be writing media releases, selling to journalists and working on events too!
What I learnt
I think there were 3 key ‘take aways’ for me.
As a new graduate do not bother the senior staff with lots of questions intermittently. I think you should try and ask your questions at the time of being assigned a task. Sadly, law firms have a culture of ‘learn fast’ or ‘sink’. If I had a question during the day I’d write it down, and then once I had a few on the list I would ask my boss in one hit; and only do this once a day.
I also think that it’s important to manage expectations. When you are assigned a task, ask what the expected turnaround time is and communicate whether you can meet the deadline. I had multiple partners, lawyers and graduates allocating tasks to me without full awareness of my workload. Managing expectations is key to doing well in your first job.
And third, have an opinion. Partners will often ask you what you think, so be ready to contribute, but don’t overdo it. Nobody expects you to provide huge lightbulb moments to career lawyers, but an ability to hear the question, digest your thoughts and compose an articulate reply is almost as valuable as the answer itself. But in saying that, just because someone in the room has mentioned negligence, spouting the first thing you remember from Torts isn’t a skill… so work on taking your time, and being considered in your opinions.
My next step
I loved my job, but I knew my earning capacity and growth was limited. I knew I needed to move but didn’t really know where to go. I was self-satisfied and really fulfilled, but at the same time I always wanted to be around people my own age; and I was the youngest by far.
I knew I liked content development, I liked social media and I liked strategy. But I was also very under qualified for a marketing manager role. This is kind of the ‘catch 22’ when you work for a small business (which my charity felt a bit like). You are able to work across everything with autonomy so then when you want to pivot into something else it can almost feel like a step backwards – even though it is a bigger company.
With that in mind I started to look into start up businesses that needed communications or marketing hires. I found a that a Uber Eats was hiring the equivalent to an Assistant Marketing Manager role I applied.
I absolutely lacked experience for the role, I was only 23.
The interview: In my previous job I started to understand that the internet is like a giant tabloid. It’s so easy to let the flashy pictures and headlines draw your attention and make you click on them, and it’s easy not to push yourself out of your intellectual comfort zone. So as a communications executive you need to adjust what you are selling the audience – even if it is intelligent content – to make it clickable. I remember I explained in my interview that I think the internet is like a giant Instagram and that the challenge now is to get people’s attention and then offer them more than they expected. I also talked using the methods of click bait — appearing as if I am appeasing the tabloid — but then giving a good reading experience (emotional connection).
I got the job. I remember my manager saying to me in the interview that he liked that I hadn’t mentioned ‘influencers’ once.
My advice for anyone moving into technology or a start up is to learn about SaaS models. Understand how people are using paid licences to make monthly recurring revenue. It’s the cornerstone of tech these days, and there is tonnes of information about it on the internet.
I really quickly learnt that success in any job comes from doing more than what is mentioned in the advertisement. You need to have a willingness to learn and don’t ever think you know better. You need to constantly ‘look outside’. Your job and organisation doesn’t exist in a vacuum so you need knowledge of the non-profit industry and the external marketplace: searching for and adapting trends to suit you.
Have the confidence to try new things (but make sure you do your research before proposing them to your boss!) Push yourself further, be hard-working, be resilient and don’t get offended if someone doesn’t like your idea – it’s all learning and constructive criticism.
Use your connections and netWORK. Form relationships whenever possible and write hand-written thank yous. Try and turn one-off collaborations into lifelong relationship.