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When life doesn’t go EXACTLY to plan…

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Do you ever feel like you have lots to talk about but don’t know where to start?

Welcome to my world.

My name is Jemillah Bickerton, I’m a trained journalist who loves AFL and politics.

I love planning things, so when I was young I was already trying to plan my life out. Journalism appealed to me because one; I like writing and two; I like knowing things. I love being able to tell people what is going on in the world and why it is important to know.

I have always taken pride in my knowledge of AFL and I was determined to be the best sports journo out there. But in my first year of university, about 80 percent of people in my class said they wanted to be a sports journalist. This frightened me a little/a lot. So I came to terms with the fact that I might not be that famous sports journo.

So I started studying my other interest; politics. I understand that not many people like this subject and at times I can find it quite disheartening. But as humans we can’t live without it. Politics is everywhere, in the school yard, work and even family.

My career started pretty standardly for a journalist, I moved from Geelong to WA to start a cadetship at the Bunbury Mail in 2011.

This is where I met Heidi Anderson. The loud, proud party animal of Bunbury.

For some reason, she took a liking to me and we became friends. Even though she wasn’t in the best place in terms of her self-esteem, she still showed great maturity and a good judge of character when it was needed. Thanks Heidi!

While I started my career earlier than I expected, I still had a plan. That plan was to be in Bunbury a year, become awesome and land a gig in Melbourne.

Four years later I was still in Bunbury. However, I had climbed the ladder to be the editor of two papers.

That sounds a bit more impressive.

So what happened? Silly me I fell in love with a local boy and suddenly my plan changed.

I tried to be the strong independent person and say “I don’t know how serious we can be because I don’t know where my career could take me”.

The problem was, he was happy to come along for the ride!

I have to admit I am making myself sound like I am unhappy with the how things panned out. This is not true, it just wasn’t what I planned.

So I made my career work while still having the awesome lifestyle in WA. I thought I was being pretty smart about it really. Making my resume look good so I could still one day live my Melbourne journalism dream.

Funny how life gets in the way of a good plan though.

While I was conquering the South West, I was keeping an eye on what was going on over the other side of the country. It wasn’t good, sub-editors, photographers and reporters were all being sacked because of the decline in newspaper revenue.

Before I moved to WA I went to a journalism expo where recruiters form The Age, ABC and Herald Sun were there.

What the recruiter said from The Age really stuck with me. He said, they had three cadet positions that year (2011) and 600 people applied. Six hundred!

So when I was watching all the redundancies occur in 2014 and 2015, all I could think about was the increase in competition.

It suddenly felt like my credentials weren’t good enough. I don’t practice shorthand, I have only worked at weekly newspapers etc.

So how did I end up back in Melbourne?

It is the classic case of turning to the dark side. All journos talk about this like it will never happen to them. But it gets most of us.

What is the dark side you ask? Communications.

It is not easy changing the plan you have always wanted for yourself. Sometimes I feel like I have even failed in some way. But just because you don’t follow your plan doesn’t mean you are failing at life.

There is also another big reason I am back in Melbourne, but I will leave that for next time.

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