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Industry Spotlight: Finding a Media Job Abroad

kaitlyn-critchleyFinding a job in the media can be tough but it’s even more difficult to find your ideal job abroad! You have to impress an employer in a foreign country and there’s often hundreds of other candidates to compete against!

Kaitlyn Critchley is a trained Journalist from Canada and currently works as a Content Manager for Castleford Media in Australia. In this exclusive interview with Jobulo Kaitlyn talks about finding work abroad, offers career tips on how to break into the media and tells us what she thinks makes the perfect CV…

Tell Us About Your Career Background and Education?

I did a four-year Bachelor of Journalism degree at Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada – and I spent part of that time on exchange at Bournemouth University in the UK. As soon as I was done, I knew I wanted to try working overseas, so I took a working holiday in the UK! I spent the first six weeks in London doing an internship for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, and then got a job in the Manchester office of an online news agency called Adfero. Within a year, I had been promoted to a management role, and they had sponsored me to stay in the UK! I ended up leading my own team and piloting a new copywriting project, which is still going. I’m really proud of that. In 2010, the recession hit hard – and while my job was secure, my boyfriend found himself out of work, so we started to explore our options elsewhere. We thought we’d try a year’s working holiday in Australia – and somehow things all fell into place. Adfero was opening its new sister company Castleford Media in Sydney, so I ended up getting a great new job working for my previous boss! I now head up Castleford’s editorial teams in Sydney and Auckland, New Zealand.

What Tips Would You Give to Someone Looking to Study Abroad?

I don’t think I would have had the courage to move overseas – twice – if it hadn’t been for my exchange. I spent half of my third year of university in the UK and it quite honestly was one of the best experiences of my life. I had never been outside of North America before and it was so interesting to experience a different culture firsthand. I think travelling, whether it’s for work or for study, is a great way to become a better critical thinker and problem solver, as you learn so many different ways to approach issues. If you’re thinking about studying abroad, I think the most important thing to get over is the fear of the unknown and really put yourself out there. If you’re willing to work hard, go out and meet people and always put your best face forward it can be a life-changing experience.

What Made You Want to Work in the Media Industry?

I originally got into Journalism because I wanted to be a breakfast TV presenter, but as it turns out, I’m not very confident in front of the cameras! I do love writing though, and I’m a social media fiend – I’m always on Facebook and Twitter. Working for an online agency turned out to be a great career move when I was just starting out – I’ve significantly expanded my knowledge of SEO (search engine optimisation) strategy and I love working with customers and clients to help them make the most of the content on their websites.

Tell Us About Your Current Role

My job title is Content Manager and I head up the editorial team at Castleford Media’s Sydney and Auckland offices. I’m primarily based in the Sydney office, but I travel to Auckland pretty frequently for work too. We provide custom content for our clients’ websites – this can be anything from blogs and product descriptions to interviews with the CEO! This means that all of us need to be pretty versatile – we write about everything from rural farms to women’s fashion. I work pretty closely with our clients to make sure the writers know exactly what they want, and supervise the writing and editing of all the content we produce.

What’s a Typical Day Like at Work?

Crazy! It can really vary from day to day. I often start the day with a catch-up chat with one of the other writers – if they’re in New Zealand and I’m in Australia, we use Skype – and go from there. I spend a lot of time on the phone and in meetings with clients, but I also do a lot of writing myself. In a typical day, I might work on a research-focused white paper in the morning and spend the afternoon discussing content strategy with a new client – or I could be running meetings or training sessions with the writing team. We work hard all year-round and there’s never a dull moment!

You’re Working Abroad Now – Is That Different to Studying Abroad?

Being at Uni makes it really easy to make friends – you’re surrounded by hundreds of people your age who share similar interests. When you’re working and you don’t have that in-built support network, it can be a bit more challenging to meet people, so you really have to be willing to put yourself out there. Working abroad also comes with more responsibility but more rewards too! Right now, because I’m earning money in Australian dollars and the exchange rate is so favourable, I’m saving more than I probably would have at home in Canada or in the UK. And of course, there are plenty of opportunities to travel and enjoy the gorgeous beaches and scenery! One thing I’ve found challenging is the hassle with visas – everything worked out for me in the end, but getting sponsored by an employer can be challenging and stressful. But that moment when you know you’ve been approved is one of the happiest feelings in the world.

If Someone Was Looking to Find Work Abroad What Advice Would You Give Them?

Gain lots of experience in your chosen field. This doesn’t necessarily have to be paid work – if you’re willing to intern, or you run your own blog, it all counts. It’s quite hard to be considered for jobs before you are physically in the country, but as soon as you arrive and have local contact details, it’s time to get those CVs out there. In my experience, taking six weeks at the beginning of my working holiday to do a challenging internship really paid off – foreign employers were much more likely to take me seriously once they saw proof that I was serious about building my career.

What Career Tips Could You Give to Someone Wanting to Work in the Industry?

I do the bulk of the editorial recruitment where I currently work, and the best thing I see on people’s CVs is proof that they love the media. You don’t need years of paid experience to show this – and in most entry-level jobs, it’s not expected. What is expected is that you will work hard and that you have the knowledge and skills you need to get by. If you want to be a writer and nobody’s paying you to write, this doesn’t mean you should give up. Submit articles to the local newspaper, or set up a blog where you can talk about any topics that interest you – from reviewing films at the cinema to the latest politics headlines. Find your niche – there are some areas that are easier and more fun to write about than others – but don’t pigeonhole yourself. For example, you wouldn’t want to pass up a great paid opportunity writing about property because you prefer to write about health. Always read and always write – this shows that you’re dedicated and keeps your skills fresh.

In Your Opinion, What Makes a CV Stand Out?

When I look at a CV, generally I don’t care how well you did on your course – I’m looking for more subtle things. Time management is a huge part of working as a writer (particularly where I work, where the writers might be responsible for several clients each and have to jump back and forth between many different subject areas), so I’m looking for examples from your previous experience where you have had to juggle responsibilities. Maybe you held down a part-time job while attending uni, for example, or maybe you do volunteer work. I also look for passion – I want you to love writing if that’s what you’re going to be doing all day. For example, maybe you’ve worked in a bar or a shop to pay the bills, but you still made time to pursue writing through your personal blog or freelancing. These hints signal that you really, really want to work in the media and you’ll do whatever it takes to make it work.