The Road to Radio: Rachel Ettinger’s WorkStory

By Michael Slipenkyj, WorkStory Ambassador at Western University

Most young people begin post-secondary education with some idea of what they want to do for the rest of their lives. But many quickly discover that the career they dreamed of won’t actually be a good fit for them.

Rachel Ettinger is one of these young people. As a horseback rider she dreamed of following her passion for animals with career as a veterinarian. She attended St. Francis Xavier University on a scholarship to study biology, but during her second year, after genetics and botany classes, Rachel realized that she was no longer enjoying biology the way she thought she should be. She then made the difficult decision not to pursue a career as a vet.

While contemplating switching her major to business she talked to one of her professors who explained how she could take her electives and a couple summer classes -- and graduate with a double major resulting in two degrees!

Rachel followed this advice and took all her spare classes in business. After her fourth year she graduated with a Bachelor of Science along with her biology classmates.  And after her fifth year she graduated with a Bachelor of Business Administration.

One summer, wanting to stay in Halifax with her friends from school, Rachel got a job working with Virgin Radio Halifax as part of its Summer Cruiser program. A friend-  who had previously worked at the Summer Cruiser program - recognized what a good fit Rachel would be for the job and recommended she apply. Rachel loved working for the Cruiser Program as it gave her the opportunity to see a lot of the city, meet new people, and attend many fun events!

Toward the end of the summer, Rachel was offered a job filling in on the morning show at 101.3 The BOUNCE in Halifax. Even though she had little experience as a radio host, she took the opportunity and loved it!  By the end of the summer she was offered the job.  Valuing her education, she declined the first full-time job offer as the morning show co-host. But after she finished her fifth year at university and graduated with her B.B.A she was again offered the job as the morning co-host at 101.3 The BOUNCE in Halifax. This time, without any hesitation, she took the job.

At first, it was not easy. Rachel began with very little knowledge about how to be a radio and television host. But she did not let the stress bring her down. And, as she looks back on it now, she notes that “In one way it was good, because I didn’t have any bad habits.”

Rachel started off working solely on the radio but, after a couple of months the 2015 World Men’s Curling Championships in Halifax gave Rachel her first television opportunity.  Working as the lead correspondent for CTV News, she proved her capabilities and got her foot in the television industry door, so to speak.

Rachel worked in Halifax for a year and a half before being promoted to the morning co-host at 97.5 Virgin Radio in London, Ontario.  She doesn’t know where her job will take her next, but she hopes the skills she learns from her current role will help her evolve along with the drastically changing radio and television industry.

Rachel’s advice?   While a university degree is not a prerequisite for a career in radio and television, Rachel observes that people with post-secondary education are often successful in their career because “they build certain skills, I believe, through education. They learned how to be on a team and how to do projects together and all those things will help with any job”.

One reason Rachel loves her job is that it’s a great fit -- with both her education and her personality. Her education provided her great life skills on how to handle teams and show up prepared. And her outgoing personality really meshes well with her co-host, Jeff Kelly, making them a relatable duo for their listeners. In Rachel’s own words, “Somewhere in a car, somebody will relate to you, and that’s the entire point”.

Rachel also loves working in the media industry because of the many opportunities it provides. She loves being part of community events and has met many people and made many friends.  And these interactions provide her a great way to connect with the people who she is actually trying to speak to on her radio show. While she is by no means the biggest fan of early mornings, Rachel absolutely loves scanning through all the social media, figuring out what’s popular and important, and getting that information to her audience in the morning.

Overall, Rachel loves working in television and radio because it provides her an outlet to communicate issues that she cares about. She loves learning about current issues and telling more people about them. While degrees in biology and business may not seem like ideal path for a radio host, Rachel’s education taught her important life skills which really help her connect with her audience. As Rachel puts it, “It doesn’t really matter what your background is for certain things…it’s based on foundational skills…and getting where you want to go”

Check out Rachel every week day on Mornings with Jeff and Rachel from 5:30am-9:00am on 97.5 Virgin Radio!

The art of newspaper design

By Andrew Vowles

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  Photo Credit:  Lindsay Lapchuk

Photo Credit:  Lindsay Lapchuk

Matt French tells stories not with words but with design.

An award-winning page designer and assistant art director for The Globe and Mail newspaper, he aims to create eye-catching page layouts that give readers a clear idea what the story is about before they read a sentence.

“The designer is there to make the message as clear and effective as they can,” says French, adding that a skillful design draws attention to the article rather than to the design elements, including graphics, photos and typography.

Take the Globe’s front-page coverage of last fall’s final report of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The story was illustrated by oversize numerals that punched out the key points: numbers of victims, witnesses and deaths associated with the country’s former residential schools.

“The story was the numbers, and the numbers are the impact,” says French, B.Comm. ’07. “It’s not about any highfalutin’ image or fancy colour.”

Most days, French, 30, helps design the newspaper’s front page, working with a “cast of many,” including editors, headline writers and the paper’s creative director. Over the past year, he’s designed more than 300 front pages and thousands more inside.

French’s design skills are self-taught, but his career path started at U of G. Always driven to do creative work, he pursued a commerce degree thinking he could “make a living doing something creative in business” such as working for a marketing agency.

During a summer job in a marketing department, French took a stab at creating promotional material for trade publications. Back on campus during third and fourth year, he then worked at Guelph’s student newspaper, The Ontarion, as photo and graphics editor, and layout editor. Recalling those days, he says, “You were able to cut your teeth doing what you wanted. Learning from your mistakes gave you the freedom to make mistakes.”

Following graduation, he worked at the Woolwich Observer. After three years there, he worked for 24 Hours, a Toronto commuter newspaper, and the Toronto Sun, among others.

French got called up to the “big leagues” in 2011. Up to 400,000 people read The Globe and Mail’s weekend edition.

Among his notable Globe projects, he points to an “Unremembered” series of articles last year about the suicides of Canadian soldiers and veterans who fought in Afghanistan, as well as the 11th-hour package of reports covering the 2015 federal election that vaulted Justin Trudeau’s Liberals into power.

Another favourite was the 2012 Remembrance Day cover, with the word “Remember” stamped over a soldier’s image. “It did what it was intended to do: cause the reader to pause and reflect.”

A fan of the Washington Post and the Guardian, French brings what he calls a simple and subtle but graphic approach to his work, as well as a refined sense of visual literacy — all without getting in the way of the story.

Sitting down to assemble a page, he knows that reporters and editors might have put months of work and passion into the article. “At the end, I’m the person responsible for taking it over the finish line, making it sing so that people connect with it.”

 

This story, reprinted with permission, originally appeared in The University of Guelph’s Portico Magazine. 

Thinking On Her Feet: Jackie Perez’s Story

Photo by David Lopez

Photo by David Lopez

As far back as she can remember, Jackie Perez has loved sports. She grew up playing basketball, volleyball and baseball, and when she was just five years old, she started to dance. While they’re good for keeping fit and teaching teamwork, the thing that’s kept Jackie coming back to athletics all these years is their unpredictability.

“The thing I’ve always loved most about sports is that they teach you to adapt and think on your feet,” she says. Things can change in a moment, and you need to be ready to roll with the punches.

That passion for sports meant that when Jackie came to the University of Guelph-Humber to take media studies, she had her eyes set on a career in sports media. A few years later, now a host for a RogersTV show and the in-game host for the Toronto Argonauts, Jackie uses what she learned from sports and her time at UofGH, staying on her toes as she makes live news.

Jackie started at UofGH in 2004 and quickly got involved with student media. When she wasn’t in class or helping produce the student newspaper, she found time to become an orientation leader and helped first-year students transition to university life. When she graduated in 2008, Jackie was hired by UofGH as a recruitment officer and travelled across Ontario telling the university’s story to high school students. After that, she worked for the Mississauga News, and a few years later, Jackie saw an opportunity to take another step towards combining her love of sports and media and applied to be an Argonauts cheerleader.

“Since I got that job, I haven’t looked back,” she says. Year after year as a cheerleader, Jackie took on more responsibility. After a successful first season, Jackie was made a squad captain, after that, she stepped up to run their social media accounts.

 “It was taking the foundations I learned at UofGH and using them to build the cheerleaders’ brand,” she says. “At UofGH I developed an eye for taking pictures, learned how to write a caption and to think about what to post to attract people and build a community. Because of my media education, I knew how to produce a video, shoot and edit it. I hadn’t done it before for the Argos, but I love to take on a challenge.”

Around that time, Jackie also started to host a Rogers TV show called InSauga Live, spending more time producing broadcast work. When she had spent more time in front of the camera, Jackie was given the chance to step up to the role of In-Game Host. Now, on game days Jackie interviews fans and keeps the audience energized between plays.

While she’s happy to be in the sports media role she’s always wanted, Jackie says one of the most gratifying parts of the job doesn’t happen inside the stadium or in front of the camera. When the game isn’t on, Jackie volunteers with the Argonauts’ Huddle Up Bullying Prevention Program, going into Toronto schools to talk about the importance of self-esteem and the effects of bullying.

“It’s one of the reasons I joined the Argos. I like to get involved with the community and give back,” she says. “There’s a lot of talk now about bullying, but kids don’t always know how to act, so it’s nice to have a chance to help and inspire them.”

         “There’s a lot of talk now about bullying, but kids don’t
             always know how to act, so it’s nice to have a chance to
             help and inspire them.”

One of the parts of Huddle Up she’s proudest of is their program talking with girls about bullying and teasing. While people often think of a bully as someone big and tough who might steal lunch money, Jackie says that for girls, especially in grades 6-8, it takes a different shape.

“Girls are more prone to social bullying, where they’ll tease, spread rumors or exclude someone else,” she says. “When you’re 11 or 12, you’re still trying to figure out who you are and it’s important to show girls that they can be a different way.”

Whether she’s in the classroom, the TV studio or at the stadium, Jackie is using the skills she’s developed from her media education and a lifetime of sports to adapt to new situations and give back to the community.

“I get an opportunity to be a role model,” she says. “I get a chance to change the conversation.”

 

With permission of the University of Guelph-Humber.  Learn more about Media Studies at UofGH

Broadcasting All-Star Lands Sports Fan’s Dream Job

By Kyle Rooks

Photo credit: Agnata Lesnik,Fanshawe College

Photo credit: Agnata Lesnik,Fanshawe College

In 2012, Caroline Cameron graduated from Fanshawe’s Broadcast Journalism program on a Friday and started her career at Sportsnet in Toronto the following Monday. It was the start of a meteoric rise that saw her spend two years in Vancouver hosting Sportsnet’s national morning
show and, in 2014, be recognized with a Fanshawe Distinguished Alumni Award. In April 2016, she returned to her hometown (Toronto) to co-anchor the late night/early morning version of Sportsnet Central.

What does your job entail?

On a typical day, I arrive for work at 8:30 p.m., check in with my producer and discuss the show’s rundown alongside my co-anchor. I write my scripts, keep my eye on as many games as possible, spend some time in makeup and wardrobe and prepare to go live at 1 a.m. On a busy night, we do a post-game show out of a live event which is always fun! It keeps me on my toes! I do all my prep at home during the day. That consists of watching TV (tough life, I know), and doing a lot of reading.

What's the best part of your job?

The best part of my job is I get to sit and watch sports for a living! It’s really fun working with other sports fans. We watch the games justike one would at home, or out with friends. We cheer, debate and laugh along the way. The only difference is we’re doing it for work. It’s pretty cool!

 Is it safe to say this is your dream job?

 Absolutely! If you had told 13-year-old me, that this is what I’d be doing, I wouldn’t have believed you. I first set my sights on being a sports broadcaster early in high school. I loved playing and watching all kinds of sports, but I also grew up in a family that consumed news; putting the two together seemed like the perfect match. Now that I’ve gotten to where I am, I can’t help but think: what’s next? But your guess is as good as mine. We don’t know what TV will look like in 5 – 10 years, just like we didn’t know what it would look like 5 – 10 years ago. I’m just along for the ride!

What's your favourite sport?

Despite having two older brothers, I was the jock of the family growing up. As the little sister, I was always trying to catch up with them – whether it was playing catch in the backyard, kicking a ball around, or shooting hoops on the driveway. I played basketball and softball in high school, but, the sport I gravitated to the most was tennis. From a young age I played with my Dad. At 15, I volunteered to be a ball kid during the Rogers Cup in Toronto. Being on the court with some of the greatest players in the world grew my love of the game even more. I’ve met some of my best friends through the sport and still play a couple times a week.

What's been the highlight of your career so far?

Tough to say. I consider a highlight to be any moment I catch myself thinking “the little kid in me would be freaking out if she knew what’s happening right now!” I remember the first time I was in the Toronto Blue Jays dugout at the Rogers Centre - that was pretty surreal. Most recently, covering Milos Raonic’s run to the finals of the 2016 Wimbledon Championships, was a huge honour. As a fan of the sport, it was incredible to see him beat Roger Federer in the semi-finals. It was a great feeling to know that I was covering an important moment in Canadian sports history. Iwanted to do the story justice.

How did Fanshawe prepare you for your career?

 By the time I graduated, I already had the structure and skills to move forward. I knew how to speak to people, conduct interviews and craft a story. When I arrived for my first day at Sportsnet, as a deer caught in headlights – I quickly settled down because the surroundings and what was expected of me didn’t seem foreign. To this day, when I write scripts for the show, I still think back to the writing rules and lessons I learned from Jim Van Horne and other faculty at Fanshawe.

Reprinted with permission from Fanshawe College Alumni News. All rights reserved. 

Freelance Writer and Journalist: Michael-Oliver’s WorkStory

By Abigayle Walker, WorkStory Ambassador at University of Ottawa

Michael-Oliver Harding is a freelance journalist who writes for both print and online culture magazines and newspapers. His client roster includes publications such as the Montreal Metro, Exclaim, Elle Canada, Noisy, and Nylon Magazine to name a few. Michael writes about culture and the arts. He is most interested in “the intersection between culture and politics”. Working mostly from home, Michael says that there is a lot of freedom and flexibility in his schedule, which helps stimulate his creativity. Even though he is passionate about writing, he especially enjoys interacting with the people he interviews at events, via Skype, or on the phone.

As a freelance writer, it is necessary to be on one’s toes to initiate leads and to find one’s next employer. Michael says that his ambition and constant reading help him be a successful freelance journalist. Usually, Michael does cold pitches to the magazines that he avidly reads. He explained that cold pitches are when he reaches out to the editor of a magazine, without any connections or ties, with an idea for an article that he believes is going to be tailor-made for the publication. He not only sells his idea, but he sells himself as the best person to write this story. He emphasized that these ideas have to be timely and relevant to the readership of the publication.

While completing a BA specialization in Communication Studies, with a Minor in Spanish at Concordia University, Michael was focused on documentary production and producing short films. Even though he had always been passionate about culture and the media, he had never seen himself as having a career in Journalism. However, in his fourth year of his studies, he decided to write film reviews for one of the school newspapers. He found himself particularly enjoying interviewing filmmakers and musicians. To his surprise, he loved the writing component of this position. Unlike essays --  reviewed by person for a grade -- the articles Michael wrote allowed him to freely express himself. For the first time, his writing had a readership!  He soon became the editor of the school paper, and from there he started to pitch ideas to other publications.

After years of success in the journalism field, Michael is now pursuing an MA in Visual and Media Anthropology – in Germany! This program, he said, will bring him back to his original passion of documentary production. After years of writing about film, Michael says that he now wants to understand the interworking of the medium in a more in-depth way.

Michael’s closing words of wisdom for those heading into the world of journalism?

Write about what matters to you and take your cues from those who inspire you.

It’s good to write about everything, but it’s better to write about a few topics that you’re passionate about and that you know extremely well.

Read a lot. Stay updated in what’s going on in the field of journalism.

Follow the writers and journalists who inspire you. Stay up to date with what they write.

Getting a degree in Journalism is not mandatory! It is helpful to have a well rounded education in other disciplines.

No “Usual Days” for this Publicist: Meghan’s story

By Abigayle Walker, WorkStory Ambassador at University of Ottawa

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   Meghan holding a baby python while hosting a press junket for a show called Python Hunters.      

Meghan holding a baby python while hosting a press junket for a show called Python Hunters.

 

Meghan Hardy works as a publicist at Proper Television, one of Canada’s largest production companies.  Proper Television is responsible for producing numerous television series including Master Chef Canada, Storage Wars Canada, Four Weddings Canada, and Canada’s Worst Driver, to name a few.

For Meghan, no day is a usual day. Every day is different, which is exactly why she says she loves her job. The majority of her days are spent on the sets themselves –taking the press on set visits, facilitating media interviews, overseeing photo shoots, doing media training with the stars and ensuring that shows she is working on are receiving the most and best publicity possible.  When she isn’t on set, Meghan is in the office creating communication and social media plans, writing cast biographies, setting up photo shoots, and pitching interviews to the media. She explains that even though every day is fun, the job can also be also stressful and challenging. It forces her to think quickly on her feet, but she says that it makes her job that much more interesting.  She says she is constantly learning. 

Not only does Meghan love what she does, she also loves the people with whom she works, describing them as “some of the most creative and brilliant people in the entertainment industry”.  Meghan says she looks forward to work every day with people she loves being around.

As awesome as Meghan’s job is, it did not come to her without years of hard work.  Meghan began with an undergraduate degree in Media Studies/Public Relations and a Diploma in Public Relations from University of Guelph-Humber.  After graduating, she accepted an internship at Rogers Media with the publicity team under their television umbrella which includes City, OMNI Television, OLN, and FX Canada. Eventually, Rogers hired her as a public relations coordinator. From there, Meaghan was able to move into her current position at Proper. Meghan says that it was the combination of her 10 years of experience in the entertainment industry, networking, and creating good working relationships that helped land her current role at Proper Television. 

Although Meghan says she learned a lot of fundamentals from her post-secondary education, it was her experience that taught her much of what she knows about public relations. Her advice to others is to network, intern, and volunteer as much as possible!  She also advises those entering the communication industry to try to get a taste of several different sectors (government, entertainment, corporate, non-profit) before deciding which one seems the best fit.

Twists and Turns to a Dream Job: Sabrina’s Story

By Michelle Doyle, WorkStory Ambassador at Western University

If I told you that Sabrina Silveira is the Alumni Coordinator in the Advancement & Alumni Relations office at Humber College would you have the faintest idea what that means?   

As Sabrina told me “I know many people don’t know what alumni means, nor would they know what the role of an Alumni Coordinator would entail. It’s not an insult…it’s one of the many reasons I have a job!  For those who are unfamiliar with what ‘alumni’ is, it’s just a fancy Latin word for graduate.  In short, I act as the middleman that connects Humber back to our grads.” 

Sabrina’s role varies from day-to-day.  She describes her daily tasks as a set of on-going projects “from graphic design, social media management, copy writing and editing, to event planning and relationship building”.  Sabrina is always “kept on her toes and is able to tap into her creativity” with such a varying, multifaceted job. This is also the reason she cannot pinpoint a favourite part of her job.

Sabrina can, however, identify an essential part of her job - her manager, whose continual support has gotten her to where she is today.  She emphasizes the importance of having a superior “who truly cares for you, looks out for you and appreciates all that you do”.  She adds that most of us are working for the majority of our lives and would all have mental breakdowns without a strong support system around us. Sabrina feels that without this healthy, supportive relationship that she has with her manager, she wouldn’t be able to do all the things that she loves working on today. So, however “strange” it may seem to have a manager be one of the primary individuals you lean on for support, those relationships may be the most important ones, not only for your career, but for your happiness.

So how did Sabrina get here – to the job of her dreams?  Well, her journey started at the University of Guelph-Humber, where she studied media and communications.  In her final year of the program, she landed a position with a student travel agency in Toronto as her internship requirement for her program. Sabrina   isn’t exaggerating when she says “this is where I really began my career” as after only a month into the internship, she was offered a full-time position as a Production Designer!  “In this role I focused largely on designing collateral for the company, as well as writing blogs, monitoring social media, and - one of my favourite projects - designing our destination staff uniforms!”  Needless to say, Sabrina really enjoyed working at this agency and felt that she was really excelling at her career.

However, a year and a half into the new job, she was “faced with one of life’s upsets”. This influenced her decision to get a new job. She wanted to work close to home which made job hunting even more of a challenge than it already was. Sabrina describes the job search process as “possibly the worst thing a new graduate can go through”.  She explains that she felt worthless and felt that everything she had worked for was all for nothing in the eyes of potential employers.  She wasn’t even getting callbacks for jobs for which she was sure she was over-qualified.  After over a hundred job applications, Sabrina finally heard back from one.  It was nothing fancy, but it was a paid position related to her field.


“Whether you believe it or not, there will always be one specific experience in your life (if not more!)  that will change your perspective completely. This job was it for me. To say accepting this position was the worst thing I could have done is an understatement. I will tell this story again and again until I lose my voice, because I know there are others out there that may be in the same situation I was in, and I only wish I can provide some hope and encouragement to them.”  Her first week on the job consisted of coffee runs and cleaning up the lunchroom after people ate - all without the presence of her mysterious manager. To make matters worse, she caught a cold after the first few days but - although feeling horrible- she forced herself to come to work.  But that’s not all. Her HR manager actually phoned her explaining how she was disrupting her colleagues by coughing and sneezing. They feared she was contagious, making her feel alienated and as if she “should have been quarantined”.  This dreadful first week was followed by months of crying alone in the car during lunch breaks and feeling “completely disregarded as a human being”.  So why did she go through this? Well, she didn’t want to quit. She felt that she owed it to herself to push through it. In fact, it wasn’t until her parents begged her to quit that she really took a step back and analyzed her life.

On a Tuesday morning last year, Sabrina received an email from her past manager, blaming her for something she had nothing to do with. His words made her choke up until she couldn’t even breathe. She scheduled an emergency meeting with her HR manager who said there was nothing she could do for Sabrina and that the way she was being treated was her own problem.  Sabrina quit right then and there.  I know, I know. Good for her!!

After that experience, Sabrina started seeing life very differently. “I started to realize that there are two types of people in this world – the type of person who will respect you and the type of person who never will. We’re only on this earth for a finite period of time – why sacrifice your life and mental health working for people who – no matter what – only look down on you? I value my life too much to ever let that happen again.”

This time around on the job search, Sabrina was smart about where she applied. She nailed down the positions that she knew she would be happy in, rather than applying everywhere. Of course, still no replies.   So, she reached out to her professors, deans, old managers, her mentors (“which is probably the best piece of advice I can give anyone”, she says). She explains that she finally didn’t feel alone and had a lot of support from these individuals.  Luckily, a position had opened up in her old department -  a position that mimicked exactly what she wanted in a career.  “It was fate! My previous manager called me in for an interview and here I am today.  I’ve never been happier” 

If you’re gong to take anything away from Sabrina’s story, it’s that you should listen to yourself and make sure you are doing what makes you happy.

Also, keep in contact with your mentors!