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How I found my passion at age 10 and have pursued it ever since

Study. Work Hard. Become a Journalist. Sounds simple right? That’s what I thought too. But little did I know that there are a lot of people who want the same jobs, have the same goals and are just as talented. Welcome to my journey as a want-to-be writer.

I was just nine years old when I sat at the dinner table over some pasta and lemonade and informed my dad that I wanted to be a writer. He’s always pushed my sister and I from a young age to know what we want out of life and to make sure we chase it. I count myself totally lucky because people go through years of studying and lots of money figuring out what they want to do with their lives and I’ve had it sorted for years.

10 years later I began a Bachelor of Journalism at a private college here in Sydney. It wasn’t that glamourous and it definitely wasn’t what I hoped it would be. So I started to question myself. Was this actually what I wanted? Or was my 10 year old dream supposed to be just a hobby? When we rolled into the third trimester I met a lady who turned it all around for me. She was new teacher who had just finished up a dream job at Cosmopolitan magazine so she could pursue her own blog which totally and utterly inspired me.

Over the trimester she taught me to write in a way I didn’t  know I could. To show my personality and get through to my audience on a more personal level. This was when I realised that it’s SO important to have people who support you and want you to succeed, backing you as you chase your dream.

The biggest obstacle of being a writer is working with a range of people who have different opinions of what a good article is. There were times that my stories would be published on the school website and were totally different to what I had submitted because the editors weren’t happy with how it was written. It’s difficult taking criticism when you worked so hard on something! This was when I learnt to welcome criticism from people more experienced than I am. It took a bit of growing up to understand that these editors were trying to benefit me on my journey but it was exactly what I needed to grow.

Then came the internships from Cumberland Newspapers, Channel Nine News and Who Magazine. It is so easy to get intimidated there – but don’t fall into that trap! When you’re still starting out as an intern, people aren’t likely to give you important tasks unless you make them notice you. I found that by doing tasks that weren’t asked of me I got their attention quicker – people really appreciate when you use your initiative. Another tip I learnt quickly? Take note of what coffee or tea your supervisor drinks and spontaneously make her a cup – a small gesture goes a mile. I also asked to sit in on meetings and take notes, if they’re discussing something and there’s anything you think could work speak up! You never know, that suggestion could land you a more permanent internship or even a paid job.

Also? Dress the part. The way you dress is sometimes just as important as the work you’re doing. The effort you put into your appearance reflects how you feel about your job. It also shows that you take pride in yourself.

After all the internships plus writing for my blog and the college website, unfortunately I didn’t land any writing job opportunities at the end of the year like I hoped I would. But I wouldn’t give up. I got offered a few more internships with: FlamingoPink.com,  jewellery designer Sally Skoufis, and Shop ‘Till You Drop magazine.

Today I’m working full time plus writing for my own blog We’re With Her and as a contributor for other sites. I’ve never worked harder in my life than I do now. I work all day and come home to write for a few hours before I go to sleep. Some days it’s incredibly hard to discipline myself into finding the time to write, especially when it’s so easy to just take a long bath or read a good book instead of writing! But discipline is key. I’m not letting my 11 year old dream die. I’ve learned so much already and I have so much more to learn. I’m like a sponge, I want to soak up as much information and wisdom as people will offer to me.

So surround yourself with supportive people, take criticism, use your initiative, dress to impress, chase your dreams and don’t stop until you no longer have to introduce yourself. Because your dreams don’t work unless you do.

WORDS BY MELISSA HENDRICKS. Melissa is a self-proclaimed coffee addict and writer for her own blog We’re With Her and is a beauty contributor for Flamingopink.com.

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