I’ll start off by saying that this was probably my most favourite interview ever. Why, you ask? Georgia Rickard, in addition to being the editor of Australian Traveller Magazine, great friend, occasional life mentor and not so occasional exercise buddy (whoops), easily sits in the top 10 of my most favourite writers. I find her hilarious. In fact I often annoy my boyfriend by lying beside him late at night giggling hysterically at one of her blogs or Facebook posts, whilst he’s trying to sleep (whoops again). It should be no surprise to anyone then that as I read back her answers to my questions, which included links to the aforementioned hilarious blog, I was smiling and chuckling the entire time. I expect you will do the same.
Now whilst I adore G, her advice, uncanny wit and sense of sarcasm, following her on Instagram can at times, lead to jealous thoughts. To explain:
Amazing, right? That’s her JOB. She gets PAID to go to these places! You’re now permitted to have a brief ‘Omg I can’t even!’ moment…
I spoke to Georgia about her journey to obtaining what is quite possibly the world’s most incredible job and her advice for achieving your own success.
Pens and paper out, you’ll want to take notes.
Editor of Australian Traveller – it sounds (and looks – I stalk your Instagram) like the perfect job! How did you get here?
Uh… Wow. That’s a big question! Let me preface my answer – which I hope you’re ready for! – with the statement that I really, reeeeeally didn’t expect to end up editing a travel magazine. (I actually thought I was going to be a celebrity reporter for E! News, but that’s another story…) I always knew I liked writing, though, and in Year 10 I did work experience at Channel Seven. Until then I thought I was going to become a lawyer, but from that point on I decided I was going to do a Communications degree when I made it to uni, and become a writer. By the time I graduated from high school however, I’d convinced myself that I’d never become a famous writer – seriously, that whole cliché of a small-time journalist working for the local rag, driving a beat-up Datsun? I was terrified of becoming that – so I did Communications (at UTS), but majored in Advertising instead.
Man, what a drag. I hated it! (‘P’s made my degree, for sure.)
Fast forward through a couple of internships, a gap year in France and several interviews for roles with PR agencies – which was *like* being a journalist, I’d decided, but seemed to involve getting paid – and I accepted a role working in…. recruitment! (Yes, weird, I know.)
Basically, I’d applied for a role with a PR firm through a recruitment agency, and the recruiters asked me to work for them instead. The job wasn’t for me (surprise!), but over the course of the ten months I lasted at that company, I learnt so, so, so much. They had a very aggressive sales culture, so I learnt how to pick up the phone, cold call absolutely anyone, convince them to meet with me and then sell them our services. Can you imagine? It called for some major confidence, and I had some seeeeriously uncomfortable phone conversations, but it taught me something awesome: you can fake confidence until you make it. (Truly.)
When I quit, I took my newfound cold calling skills and applied them to journalism; picking up the phone and cold calling editors. Within three months, I had commissions with Cosmopolitan, CLEO, Women’s Health and the Sunday Telegraph. Within four months, I was earning enough to move out of home. I was 22 at that point. That was seven years ago.
What was the most important lesson you learnt from that experience?
Well, there were a few. Probably the best lesson – and the one I try to share most often with people – is that horrible situations (read: unhappy first jobs) are often blessings in disguise. If I hadn’t worked in recruitment (seriously, it was So. Not. Me.), I’d probably never have been unhappy enough to do something so drastic as to quit, reinvent myself and start a second career.
The second part of the story – which I haven’t told you about yet (see, I told you it was a long answer) – was that, just nine months into my new writing career, I was actually tapped on the shoulder by the publisher of a magazine called Healthy Food Guide. I’d written one (one!) article for them, and they’d liked it so much that they wanted to know if I’d be interested in applying for the editorship there. It was one of those outrageous, this-sort-of-stuff-doesn’t-happen kind of moments…. Especially when I got the job! So the second lesson was to always, always, always do the best job you can with what’s in front of you. You just never know who’s watching.
My new boss, Danielle Tibbles, also just happened to have previously been the editor, and/or publisher of some of Australia’s biggest and shiniest magazines, like delicious., VOGUE Entertaining + Travel, and superfood ideas, and she poured everything she knew into me. Suddenly I was embroiled in the world of managing budgets, planning cover shoots, staff appraisals and talking on live television about feeding fussy toddlers (check out how terrified I look! I was only 23, poor thing).
When I finished up there… wow. I was 25 and I floated around for a couple of years, suffering from a massive quarter life crisis – editing a magazine had turned out to be a hugely stressful role, and after two and a bit years, I wasn’t quite sure if that was my dream job after all. Actually, I had no idea what my ‘dream job’ looked like.
So I wrote a book, undertook all sorts of freelance roles (including one at the TODAY show during a brief stint where I thought I wanted to work in TV), and then one day I received an email from the publisher of Australian Traveller. Would I be interested in working there? Nope, I said. I was going to be on TV (E! News, remember?). But I’d ‘help out’, while they looked for a new editor. And I just fell in love with the job. That was two and a half years ago.
So my next lesson? Give up on looking for the ‘perfect’ job. If I’d kept chasing what I thought was my ‘dream job’, I’d have missed out on my dream job.
What does an average day at the office/ whatever amazing location you are at, usually involve?
Honestly? It varies so much. Some of the things I do sound glamorous (interviewing celebrities, going to launch parties, travelling…) but are actually a lot of hard work. Some things sound a lot less glamorous (dealing with celebrities’ managers and agents, replying to emails, picking destinations to shoot covers at, brainstorming feature ideas and cover lines, replying to emails, commissioning articles, replying to emails, image research, replying to emails, writing briefs, writing stories, replying to emails, and replying to emails) and are also a lot of hard work. When I’m travelling, I’m ‘on’ all the time. It’s not a holiday. You’re madly taking notes, mentally crafting the story, shooting images, asking questions, learning, learning, learning, and all while trying to juggle your full time job (and full-time inbox) which is waiting for you back at the office.
Of course, there are still moments when I look around and think, holy crap, this is MY JOBMYLIFEISAMAZING, and I think my friends would never forgive me if I didn’t admit that some parts of it are pretty awesome (“oh hey George, you free to come sit on my couch this Friday night and eat cheese?” “Not this weekend, friend, I’ve got an island that needs visiting”)… but don’t think it’s not hard work. In fact, that’s a lesson in itself: never chase a job for the perks it comes with – you’ll end up miserable. Accept a job that you’ll love regardless of whether there’s perks or not, then you’ll do a good job regardless. And, when the perks come (and they will, if you’re doing a good job, regardless of the industry you’re in – trust me), they’ll never run out.
How frequently do you travel for work?
It varies. I try not to travel more than one week, out of every four. But that doesn’t always work – this month (August) I have three trips to take, last month (July) I took none, and I was out of the office for the entire month, bar three days of June. Hashtag busy. (Hashtag lame. Who even speaks like that? Sorry.)
So far, your favourite destination work has taken you is…
Can I split it three ways? OK, well I’m going to, even though you haven’t actually agreed to that. (Thank you.)
1. The world’s most travelled man actually reckons Lord Howe Island – which is just two hours from Sydney, dammit! – is ‘paradise on earth’. He’s right. GO THERE.
2. The Kimberley, which is the entire top-left-hand corner of Australia, is unbelieeeeevable. Some 2600 unnamed islands off the coastline, freshwater swimming holes galore, billion-year-old rockfaces, gorges, and all within one of the world’s last great wilderness frontiers. It’s so wild and rugged and honestly, there’s this real sense of soulfulness about the place. It’ll make you fall in love with Australia. No words.
3. The Cocos (Keeling) Islands. Never heard of them? Neither has anyone else, which is A Very Good Thing, because they’re freaking stunning and I’m hoping that they stay a secret forever. (Honestly. If you don’t believe me, Google them…) And in the meantime, here’s a fun new fact for you – they’re actually part of Australia, even though they’re halfway to Africa. One for your vision board, pronto!
What are your top three tips for anyone hoping to get into the print/ media industry?
* Firstly, don’t overestimate the competition. Someone has to have that job you want so badly, and the people who already do are just ordinary people like you or me. There’s no reason why you don’t have a chance – you do! So believe that it’s possible.
* Secondly, don’t underestimate the competition. People will do some pretty crazy things to get a job in media, and with good reason – they’re really, really fun! (Hard work not withstanding, remember…) Live it, breathe it, love it. Learn everything you can about the company and the people you want to work for, be passionate about their products, and be persistent. When I quit recruitment for writing, I bought every single magazine I was interested in writing for and spent hours upon hours staring at those pages, memorising bylines, studying who worked for who, whose names were on the masthead (ie as permanent employees of the magazine) and whose belonged to freelance writers, what sort of stories each magazine seemed to feature most often… People notice that kind of passion, and those are the people who get the jobs. Passion persuades. Tenacity triumphs. Etc.
* Thirdly – don’t let perfection stand in your way. Remember, ‘done’ is better than perfect. Nowhere does that apply more than with your resume. It will never be perfect, and you’ll get more than one chance to send a resume anyway. Give it your best shot, then let it go. (Though by the same token, make sure it’s spell-checked, concise and cleverly written – you are going into an industry built around the written word, after all.)
* Fourthly – this is assuming you’ve already read the other seventy-five ‘lessons’ I’ve shared with you earlier, which also count as top tips – remember that success doesn’t go in a straight line. And if you can’t remember that, google image search that sentence, print out a copy of the diagram, and stick it somewhere to remind you.
* And finally – I know I’m well past three tips, but I couldn’t help myself – come to one of my workshops. I don’t usually run courses on how to nab your dream job, because hey, having nabbed my own I’m rather busy, but the founders of thesuccess are good friends and hey, they’re actually pretty good fun. I understand their website is actually being rebuilt at the moment, but you can email me directly and I’ll send you all required details.
And just because I’m sure now a few people will be interested… does Australian Traveller take interns? And so if, how frequently?
We do – in fact we have a full-to-bursting roster! Internships happen in two-week blocks on a year-round basis, and we offer spots for both budding writers and photographers. If you’re keen to apply, you’ll need to get in contact with our chief sub-editor, Megan Arkinstall. And that’s as many clues as I’ll give you…
Feel inspired? FYI I’ve already nominated myself first in line for the position of personal assistant and/ or bag handler, so don’t even think about it.
Special thanks to Georgia for this post.