5 May 2016

Reflections from our work experience student – Olivia Hurley

Olivia photo


My name is Olivia, I’m in year ten at Clonard College (that’s in Geelong; I am very familiar with V/line), and during this past week I have been sampling the world of careers in the arts through my work experience placement at Express Media.

Reading has been my primary hobby pretty much since I learnt how to do it; or probably even before that. My bedtime stories between the ages of four and twelve included various classics interspersed between fairy books (when I was seven I brought The Lord of the Rings to school as an example of my favourite book). So I think an interest in the arts, and writing in particular, was simply a natural progression formed from a life-long love of literature. Most of my other interests conform more or less to the same theme: music, fashion, art, etc. Consequently, as a young person who is perennially enamoured with the written word and various incarnations of the arts/culture, Express Media is an organisation I identify with on multiple levels.

I am someone who gets very pre-emptive and invested when it comes to Plans for the Future™ and so when we were told the dates for our school work experience week back in February, I began frantically emailing every single arts organisation I could think of. I contacted galleries and newspapers and publishing houses, most of which never replied, leaving me in a dizzy panic.

So when Pippa emailed me to offer me a placement I breathed a shaky sigh of relief that I wasn’t going to be stuck painting someone’s ceiling or attempting to steer a forklift away from solid obstructions (these are excerpts from my parents’ cautionary recounts of their own work experience placements). I also squealed excitedly because I was going to have the chance to go behind the scenes at an organisation I already admired and respected. I first became aware of Express Media when I started out at The Signal Express in year eight, and am lucky enough to have engaged in a few really valuable opportunities with them in the time since.

Fast forward a couple of months, and I’m at the Wheeler Centre for my first day. After a ‘revolving door of introductions’ that would be ongoing throughout the week, I was introduced to various facets of the workings of Express Media. I explored the twists and turns of the magazine publication cycle with Voiceworks editor Lucy, talked to Voiceworks designer Lynley about colours and the incremental nuances of letter spacing, and then got to sit in on an EdComm meeting conducted by Tom Doig and Liam Pieper, which was as vibrant as it was informative. I also learnt a lot of very serious and important stuff: sometimes when filing you just have to make a hidden ‘WTF folder’, arts careers are invariably linked to a heightened coffee addiction, and my snack-getting skills are of an A+ standard. Further experiences throughout the week included an extremely fast-paced meeting that strained my abilities of quick-fire comprehension, and a rewardingly laborious Voiceworks stocktake.

I think it’s important to note the welcoming and unrelentingly cordial vibe that has accompanied my time at Express Media. It has been so wonderful for me, a fairly reticent 15-year-old, to be so seamlessly absorbed into this encouraging and stimulating space. I was also struck by the abundance of women in influential roles at Express Media, which is both empowering and a key feature in enabling me to feel involved and relevant while working alongside them.

At the risk of sounding gushy, I definitely would not hesitate to say that my time at Express Media has surpassed its educational and formative quota as work experience. Observing the capacity for a varied range of creativity-based roles provided here has left me with a clearer concept of my desired career projection, and fervent hopes of further involvement with Express Media. While I would still love to keep tending to my aspirations as a writer, being here has demonstrated the availability of many appealing paths in editing and arts management. I think I’d like to sit somewhere in the gap, and maybe even realise my long-time dream of being a magazine editor.

On that note, I’ll finish by expressing (haha) my sincere thanks to everyone at Express Media for inviting me into their world and sharing insight with me. I hope you all know that you’re inspiring, and also that you’re just truly cool and kind people.