JOB BLOG // Alumni Profile: Emer McCarthy

You can’t be under 26 forever.

When SYNners get too old to volunteer, a lot of them go on to work in the media, taking with them all the skills SYN has instilled in them.

Emer McCarthy volunteered on 1700 and Panorama now works as a reporter for 9News in Traralgon.

Read more about her here:

emer 2

Have you been to uni? What did you study?

I studied a Bachelor of Journalism with a minor in International Studies at Monash. One year of my degree was spent studying abroad where I spent one semester in Holland and one semester in Denmark.

Did you do any internships? How valuable were these in finding a job?

I only did one internship, at Crikey, during university and then did quite a few once I graduated including at Win and 3AW. I went about finding these myself as my course was a lot more theory than practical based. At first I was quite embarrassed having to tell people that I had already graduated and was still interning but once you get over yourself you’ll realise that it’s never too late to start! My internships didn’t immediately help me find a job but I certainly made contacts that put me in the right direction and gave me great advice.

What did you do at SYN?

I started at hosting 1700 in my first year of uni. I loved my two seasons on the show and I still think the experience was invaluable – co-hosting an hour of live TV a week as a teenager is no easy feat! 1700 taught me the importance of preparation, research and teamwork, which are such important skills in the field. When I returned from exchange I worked on Panorama which was a wonderful experience and gave me such good hands on news gathering skills. I also scripted and read news bulletins a few times a week which I absolutely loved and helped me to sharpen my news writing skills and voice.

What are you doing now? Where are you working? How did you get your job?

I’m working as a reporter with 9 News in their Gippsland bureau headquartered in Traralgon.

My first paid media job was as an overnights news producer at Sky News in Sydney followed by daytime producing. When I saw 9 was expanding into regional I applied for a role and although I really (really) wanted a reporter position I was offered a job as a producer for the NSW regional bulletins in Sydney.

I loved my team and the hours but I still really wanted to be a reporter so I made the most of the resources available to me- I went out with Sydney reporters on the weekend, I pitched my own stories and made my own packages. The director of regional saw how much I wanted a reporter role so I was put into the next available one which happened to be back in Victoria.

Don’t be afraid of moving for a job, in fact if you can, do it! I’ve made so many lifelong friends in Sydney and had wonderful experience outside of work.

What does a typical day look like for you at Channel 9?

It’s sounds cliche but really every day is different. I try to start at the gym to clear my head for a while before I’m glued to the local radio/ police scanner/ Twitter/ local Facebook pages to see what’s going on while sipping my first of many coffees for the day. Once I get into the office I liaise with my two colleagues to see what’s on the agenda and then we plan the day from there. We each do two packages a day – one news and one sport. With three journalists and two camera operators, planning and time management is of the essence!

What’s the best advice you’ve received about finding a job in journalism?

Get your name out there! Don’t be afraid to take the worst sounding job ever as a way to get your foot in the door as once you’re in it is a lot easier. Also, most importantly of all, be kind! This industry is so small, even in two different states everyone seems to know everyone, so the last thing you want is a bad name.

What’s your experience been like moving to a regional area?

I’m not going to lie, it has been incredibly difficult from me. Having lived in inner city Sydney the move to Traralgon has been really tough. It’s been very hard to meet people especially as with the unpredictability of the job you can never fully commit to out of work activities. Also everything in regional areas is really spread out and you have to drive everywhere which I really don’t like. The only perks are you can save a lot of money as rent is cheap and there’s not much to do, plus Melbourne is only ~ 2 hours away.

You’re having coffee with a SYN volunteer who wants to do what you’re doing. What advice would you give them?

First up, keep drinking coffee because you’ll need a lot of it! Remember to be persistent, I can’t even begin to count the amount of rejection emails and calls I received when applying for jobs and it is the most awful feeling in the world but don’t let it stop you from continuing to apply! Have a cry, have a D&M with your friends (or your Mum!) and get back into it. Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone or email- Google news directors, producers, reporters whose work you like and see if they will meet you for a coffee too! Keep an open mind and consume as much news as you can in every form that you can.

Find Emer via LinkedIn.

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