So how did you get that cool job?

Read this article for the start-up stories of people with jobs we wish we had. Think the Deputy Editor of Russh magazine, the co-founder of the Grand Social and Adriano Zumbo’s marketing consultant.

A few weeks ago, Pedestrian TV and Macleay College teamed up to present Start Up, a series of talks by people who get paid for their creative genius.

To recap, advice I’d pay to hear from people I’d love to be, was given out for free; and the best part was they didn’t just say, “I studied here, got a job and then became the great person I am today”. We were told their back stories, which were inspirational and reassuring. Everyone has to start somewhere, right? Consider this a Spark Notes version of three speakers with impressive bios.


Clare Alstin: Deputy Editor of Russh Magazine


Best advice: Wannabe Russh interns listen up! “Those who work hard, stand out.” The jobs are hard, and long hours are required, but those with ambition and a smile are noticed and looked after.

Clare didn’t begin her career knowing she wanted to get into the magazine business let alone climb the ranks to become a Deputy Editor. In fact, Clare finished high school burnt out and directionless. Her decision to study a Communications degree at the University of South Australia was based solely on the fact that she was a decent writer. How did Clare find her way? She packed up and went to London with no plan or pending job. By meeting the right people and landing the right gigs, Clare found herself on the path to Deputy Editorship. An important thing she learnt along the way was that she wasn’t a fantastic writer, “I’m OK,” says Clare. But being brilliant at something is not what gets you ahead in the industry. Having “the right mindset and persistence” are the keys to success. What to take from Clare’s story? Understand what you have to offer and deliver.

Watch Clare talk here.

Nick Gower: Co-owner of The Grand Social


Best advice:  “Doing is an important part of learning.”

Yes, we’ve all heard this piece of advice before, but when someone who has successfully started and still operates three businesses says it, it really hits home. The Grand Social is an online store dedicated to up-and-coming Aussie designers. While the GS is a fantastic business, the real story here is how Nick co-founded designer agency, Mentally Friendly, with his best friend slash business partner, Jon Christensen. Nick and Jon met in their second year of uni at Billy Blue College of Design. Forced to work together on an assignment, they realised they were the Robin to each other’s Batman. By their third year they knew they wanted to open their own design agency, put uni on the backburner and did any freelance work that came their way. After uni, the dynamic duo had saved a grand, bought laptops, paid the lease on a studio (bat cave?) and worked their butts off until they finally started meeting the right people and getting real world experience. The pay off: their first real job for the Discovery Channel only paid $20, 000. Only.

What I took from this story is that if you know what you want, do whatever it takes to make it happen even if it means a year of eating only Mi Goreng while designing business cards for the local dry cleaner.

Watch Nick talk here.

Melissa Leong: Founder of Fooderati


Best advice: “Find your thing, that thing called Passion.”

Food blogger-turned-director of her own niche food-based marketing and public relations service, Melissa’s whole career has been about defying the odds. Coming from a traditional Asian migrant family, Melissa was expected to follow the rules: do well at school, go to uni and get into a respectable profession like medicine, law, accountancy or business. The closest she came to following these ‘rules’ was a brief yet hellish stint in advertising. Melissa started her food blog, Fooderati, while suffering under the strain of the corporate world. It began as a hobby but as her popularity increased, the opportunity to write freelance presented itself. Melissa didn’t consider herself a ‘writer’ but she wasn’t about to pigeonhole herself. Thanks to an open mindset and her ability to network that freelance work evolved into hosting a food segment for FBI radio, launching A-grade restaurants and becoming a consultant for celebrity chefs like Adriano Zumbo. All for the love of food!

Melissa is a textbook example of where following your passion can lead. Her advice to high school students is, “don’t freak out if you don’t know what you want to do.” For uni students, she suggests studying what you’re interested in not what you feel obligated to pursue. And for those in the big bad world, Melissa says this: “you’re your best brand ambassador: have confidence that you have something to offer and network.” Basically, take yourself seriously and grip opportunity by the balls.

Watch Melissa talk here.