For Calla Wahlquist, after giving up on becoming a vet it was working as a journalist for The Guardian that took on the mantle of dream career.
Now she’s achieved that goal Calla is striving to chase stories that challenge herself as a journalist, along with her readers.
Here is her profile…
Name: Calla Wahlquist
Course: Bachelor of Arts (Journalism)
Year graduated: 2009
Current position: Reporter, Guardian Australia
What was it like breaking into the industry? Was it more ‘who you know’ than ‘what you know’?
It was ‘how many applications can you send in one week’. I set up a job alert at the start of my final year and applied for every single job at every single regional paper, no matter where it was. I wrote a pro forma application letter, tailored the details to suit each job, then sent them off (in the post, which seems rather quaint now). I signed the contract to start work at The Bunbury Mail, a Fairfax community paper in Western Australia, about a month before final exams. I hadn’t even done work experience, so I knew nothing and no one, but I pitched a list of stories in the interview and they seemed to like me.
What is a ‘day in the life’ of your current role?
We have a daily news conference at 9am to discuss what we should focus on that day. We all do a mix of daily news and working on larger projects, which usually tick away in the background. I have been lucky to do a fair bit of travel to cover stories like the deaths in custody of Ms Dhu and Jayden Bennell, the Uluru convention, and the anniversary of the Port Arthur massacre.
What was a key lesson you learnt at Monash that translated into your workplace?
Everyone is interesting if you ask the right questions.
If you could go back and do your degree again, is there anything you’d change? Subject choice? Time management? Internships?
I would take a wider variety of subjects. Studying things that were completely unrelated to journalism – reading all of Henry Reynolds’s books in a fantastic Indigenous history class taught by Professor Bain Attwood; reading a bunch of high court cases for constitutional law; and learning about kinship structures from Associate Professor John Bradley – shaped my understanding of the world and my place in it.
What skill (or skills) would you recommend aspiring journos acquire before getting into the industry?
Shorthand. Don’t believe people who tell you it’s a dying art. Have you ever tried to transcribe a 20 minute interview? It takes forever. Record it as a back up, but if you want to file quickly you need shorthand.
When you were a child, what was your dream job?
I wanted to be a veterinarian, but put journalism down as my first preference for university courses when I realised I wouldn’t get the marks. Still not quite sure why I did that but it has worked out well.
What is your dream job now?
My dream job was to work for The Guardian. Now it’s about the kind of coverage I want to provide for The Guardian, the mix of stories and formats that would both challenge me and serve our readers.
Who do you look up to most in the industry?
It is a terribly obsequious thing to say, but my Guardian Australia colleagues are some of the best and brightest people I’ve ever met. It’s an extraordinary privilege to work with them each day. Journalists like Amy McQuire, Bridget Brennan, Dan Box, Allan Clarke and
Miki Perkins are also on my must read list. If they share one of my stories I know I must be doing something right!
Do you follow any sports teams?
Theoretically, I follow the Sydney Swans. In practice, however, I am spectacularly disinterested. My knowledge of sports is constrained to spending hours loitering outside court (and for one particularly dull week, outside prison) waiting for various former AFL stars.
What’s your coffee order?
Soy flat white.
Monash graduates shortlisted for 2017 Walkley Awards
THREE Monash University graduates have been named finalists in the prestigious Walkley Awards for Excellence in Journalism.
Simons, Jarvis shortlisted for Amnesty media award
Monash University journalism’s Associate Professor Margaret Simons and senior lecturer Heather Jarvis have been named finalists in the Amnesty International 2017 Media Awards.
Global Correspondent unit launches in Europe
Take two groups of students at universities situated at the opposite side of the globe, put them at Monash Prato in northern Italy and mix in a few days at EU institutions in Brussels and you get Global Correspondent.
Not jobs and growth but post-capitalism
The term “creative industries” was first applied to the cultural sector by UK New Labour in 1998, … Continue reading Not jobs and growth but post-capitalism
Simons shares wisdom with journalism students
Award-winning journalist, author and academic Margaret Simons recently joined the journalism department in Monash University’s … Continue reading Simons shares wisdom with journalism students
Christiane Barro wins Walkley for Student of the Year
Monash journalism student Christiane Barro won the Walkley Award for student journalist of the year in Sydney last night.
Journalism academics engage with Senate Committee
Dr Colleen Murrell from Journalism (MFJ), gave testimony on 11 July before the ‘Senate Select … Continue reading Journalism academics engage with Senate Committee
From screen to sound for Hayley
After completing her Honours in Film and TV studies at Monash, career success for Hayley … Continue reading From screen to sound for Hayley
Curiosity and critical thinking propels Anders’ career
For Anders Furze, studies in Film and TV has led to varied career outcomes. But … Continue reading Curiosity and critical thinking propels Anders’ career
John settles into a career behind the camera
For John Holdsworth, a clear vision of what he wants to achieve has led to … Continue reading John settles into a career behind the camera
Monash gives Alasdair access to industry
For Alasdair Mulligan having access to Monash tutors and lecturers active within the journalism industry … Continue reading Monash gives Alasdair access to industry
Smethurst wins Press Gallery Journalist of the Year
News Corp national political editor (Sunday editions) and Monash University alumna Annika Smethurst has won the 2017 Press Gallery Journalist of the Year.