The RMIT CBD campus alone has 45,000 students rolling towards the white-collar market and the viciously competitive world of industry. But will it live up to the fairy tale of a healthy, happy lifestyle?
Some would argue that the classic nine-to-five job is nothing more than a myth belonging only to the older generations of yesteryear and the not-for-profit sector. We as students are constantly fed the knowledge that the media and communications industry is awake 24/7, relentlessly connected and in constant motion, leaving little time for family and friends. The future of the communications professional is painted as intangibly fluid – liquid; a constantly interchangeable mix of work and private life. The prospect of a career in an industry that never sleeps is daunting. Journalist for Smart Company and former Catalyst editor Broede Carmody believes that once you have a foot in the door it’s crucial to value self-care straightaway; “It’s not like extra-curricular activities or spare time falls in your lap, you have to build habits.”
Carmody is a firm believer that there’s no such thing as a work-life balance, merely a “life balance”; “there’s no real start or end of where my work begins and the rest of my life”. But it’s not that the media and communications industry renders us doomed to deprivation and stretched to the edge of our capacity. Carmody explains, “On the weekends I’ll be reading the news and thinking of stories to write, and sure I’ll do things in my spare time like go for a swim or catch up with friends, but there’s no clear divide”. As a student, it’s all smooth sailing until you hit the rapids of graduation; the torrents of stress overwhelm you as you sweat profusely checking your emails for application responses. Somehow you find yourself repeatedly floundering on SEEK or contemplating the ethics of self-endorsing on LinkedIn. But there is hope for we, the over-caffeinated, nocturnal students with puffy eyes and overcommitted calendars. Carmody tells us that the struggle of striking a “balance between studying, working 20 hours a week, interning, volunteering and freelancing” improves because “when you work full time, you actually have a much more structured life and you’re less busy.” And most importantly, Carmody’s advice to graduates is to, “do what you like or what you want to do”, and “don’t stress, that’s my advice.” Judy Nichol, an expert in emotional intelligence, leadership coaching, mentoring/training, and communication skills, offers a similar sentiment. She is a facilitator for the ‘Stress resilience work/life balance’ course available at Swinburne University. Nichol identifies an increase in pressure on students entering the industry in contrast to 30 years ago, due to “social media and pressures to stay in touch and connected.” Similarly to Carmody, Nichol believes we all need “proactive strategies like going for a swim or walking in nature, processing thoughts through a journal, rather than reactive strategies like blaming others and making excuses.” She also recommends intentional goal setting as an essential discipline to enable focus and problem solving. “You have to be self-disciplined, and you have to be self-aware. You have to know yourself; your strengths and weaknesses, and how you handle stress,” to succeed. For more insight from industry professionals, who strive to maintain a ‘life’ balance amidst technological evolution and perpetual busyness, the third year Professional Communication students will be hosting the following free industry panel event in the coming week:
What: Liquid Life and the Myth of Work/Life Balance – Industry Panel
When: Friday 18th September
Where: RMIT University, Building 80, Level 11, Room 10
Who: Industry Panelists:
Richard Watts: Radio host for 3RRR, Arts Journalist and founder of the Emerging Writers’ Festival.
Annemarie Hunter: SEC and Social Media Manager at Fairfax Media.