It was during her time at Monash that Sophie Boustead realised she could use her journalism skills for positive social change.
After graduating from a Bachelor of Journalism and gaining experience working for a not-for-profit organisation, Sophie is working towards a social-minded career through Monash’s Masters program.
Here is her profile…
Name: Sophie Boustead
Course: Bachelor of Journalism
Dept: School of Media, Film and Journalism
Year graduated: 2015
Current position: Master of International Development Practice Student at Monash University.
What was it like breaking into the industry? Was it more ‘who you know’ than ‘what you know’?
It was a combination of ‘what you know’ and ‘what you’ve done’. I undertook a lot of internships throughout my degree that I think contributed significantly to getting my first ‘real job’. That said, industry contacts did connect me to some of those internships!
What is a ‘day in the life’ of your current role?
At my previous job as PR Officer at the Summer Foundation, my day could be anything from creating social media plans, to compiling an annual report or publication, writing blogs and media releases or leaving the office to help facilitate a storytelling workshop.
I recently left this job to study full-time, so a day in the life currently looks like a lot of reading, research and attending classes. At the moment, my degree is focused on learning how to plan and manage projects that address development problems such as food shortages, poor hygiene and sanitation, lack of education and poor infrastructure.
On top of study, I volunteer for an organisation called Positive Aid which is focused on health and community development in Kenya and write about human rights for a number of publications.
What was a key lesson you learnt at Monash that translated into your workplace?
In my final year, I undertook a unit called ‘Journalism and Social Change’ that taught me that a career in journalism didn’t have to mean only working for traditional news outlets. I quickly realised that I wanted to work with not-for-profits to use communication for social good. I was very lucky that my first job was doing just that – the Summer Foundation is working to create better housing options for young people living in nursing homes. It was a great job, and an opportunity to apply many of the skills I learnt in my degree, as well as learn how a not-for-profit operates.
If you could go back and do your degree again, is there anything you’d change? Subject choice? Time management? Internships?
Not really, I completed some great subjects and was able to incorporate international studies and French into my degree, which has contributed significantly to the career I am pursuing now.
What skill (or skills) would you recommend aspiring journos acquire before getting into the industry?
Networking – your contacts are invaluable.
Social media – you’ll no doubt be asked to do it at some point, so it’s important that you’re comfortable with the different platforms and management tools.
When you were a child, what was your dream job?
It changed a lot but for a long time I wanted to be a doctor studying infectious disease in developing countries – it’s not so far from what I want to do now.
In my last year of school I wanted to be a foreign correspondent for a big outlet like Al Jazeera which led me to study journalism at Monash.
What is your dream job now?
Project manager for an organisation that is supporting communities in developing countries to prepare for and recover from conflict and disasters.
Who do you look up to most in the industry?
In the journalism industry I really looked up to Stephen McDonell who used to work for ABC as the China correspondent. His stories were always really rich, and I admired that he could interview locals in Mandarin.
Have you kept in touch with any of your fellow alumni?
Absolutely! I made some lifelong friendships at Monash and catch up with many of my Monash friends regularly.
Do you follow any sports teams?
I grew up around Geelong, so when I go home I’ll say I go for the Cats. The reality is I haven’t watched a game in a few years…
What’s your coffee order?
A latte – essential for morning functioning.
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