Melbourne journalist Alana Mitchelson scored an international fellowship soon after graduating from Monash.
Since then, Alana has built her career in print and digital journalism, and now reports for news website, The New Daily, in Melbourne’s CBD.
Here is Alana’s profile …
Name: Alana Mitchelson
Course: Bachelor of Journalism
Year graduated: 2015
What was the best aspect of studying journalism at Monash?
The best aspect of the Monash journalism degree was its strong focus on practical work. Every assignment involved sourcing and writing a news story with original interviews. You’re thrown into the deep end from day one and I loved the challenge.
Why did you choose to study journalism at Monash?
Throughout high school, I’d always had a passion for writing but would never have considered myself a news junkie by any means. So without knowing what I wanted to pursue after school, I chose journalism and by chance discovered it was the perfect career path for me.
It’s a challenging degree. Journalism involves so much more than simply being a good writer. My time at university involved developing my ability to write succinct hard news ledes, eliminating any anxiety over approaching strangers for comment, improving my confidence in conducting interviews and expanding my multimedia skill set.
I used to be a reasonably shy person during my teenage years and I feel that journalism played a huge part in shaping me into who I am today.
Did you balance uni life with a job?
I had a part-time retail job for about a year before giving it up to pursue journalism internships at various publications to build my portfolio and grow my professional network.
I found these unpaid placements to be a crucial part of the university experience, even though they were mostly sought externally.
My first full-time journalism job was at a regional weekly newspaper in Geelong called the Geelong Independent.
How did you break into the industry?
I undertook a 10-week journalism fellowship at the Indianapolis Star in the United States straight after finishing my final uni assignments. I think it gave me a bit of an edge over other candidates throughout the interview process for my first job upon coming home to Melbourne.
I began cutting my teeth at a weekly regional newspaper, the Geelong Independent, before being transferred to the company’s flagship paper, the Pakenham Gazette.
A year later I was approached for a reporting role at Bruce Guthrie’s national news website The New Daily where I am currently working.
Could you share an embarrassing/funny anecdote you encountered in your earlier days in journalism?
In my early weeks at the Pakenham Gazette, I was covering a local event and tripped over our photographers backpack.
I landed flat on my back in front of a large crowd of federal politicians, local councillors, police, residents, and not to mention my new boss.
What is the best piece of advice you have received?
I remember that in first year uni, one of our lecturers told us that realistically, there were only so many jobs in journalism and not all of us should expect to land a job with one of the metropolitan-based news organisations.
“But at the end of the day, someone has to get those jobs and why shouldn’t it be you?” he’d posed to the lecture theatre.
I took those words as a challenge throughout the early stages of my career and I think it was the best attitude to have.
What is your dream job?
I would love to one day be a part of an investigative team, either writing long-form pieces or working behind-the-scenes on research for a television program such as Four Corners.
What are some tips you could give students hoping to pursue a career in journalism?
Interning and gaining field experience was, for me, the most important part of university. It is not enough to complete just one internship towards your placement unit.
Turn up to your internships prepared with story ideas to pitch and make yourself memorable. Ask lots of questions! These contacts will be extremely valuable when it comes to seeking work in the future.
I would also highly recommend applying for an overseas placement as the experience is second to none.
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