career

“Why following my passion was the best thing I ever did.”

Truvée Wines
Thanks to our brand partner, Truvée Wines

Almost three years ago to this very day, I made a decision that would completely turn the course of my life on its head. I’d been at university for five years, was a trained primary school teacher working in the field and was also completing a Masters in Journalism and Communication.

I had a passion for writing and desperately wanted to be a writer for as long as I could remember. I lived vicariously through magazines such as Dolly and Girlfriend for many of my teen years before transitioning to Cosmopolitan and Cleo when I hit my early 20s.

My favourite part of any magazine was always the Editor’s Letter. Funny, smart, quirky and relatable. It felt as though I was talking to an accomplished best friend. I’d flick to the features and read them over and over before glancing at the author byline and wishing my name would appear in that exact spot one day.

But you know the deal. Media is competitive. Media is hard to get into. Media is a dead-end dream. At least that’s what I kept hearing from every direction I turned. Combine that with the fact that ‘magazines were dying’ and my hopes of having my name in print didn’t seem to be all that attainable.

Valentina had always dreamed of becoming a writer. Image: supplied.

The second I would tell anyone that I wanted to be a writer, they would give me a small grin accompanied by the same old spiel. That they had personally known so many talented people who had tried and failed to get into the industry. That I should pull my head out of the clouds and stick with teaching where I supposedly had both a chance and a future.

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My hopefulness wasn’t helped by the situation I found myself in when I graduated either. I immediately began job hunting, only to be faced with job interviews that went nowhere, a stream of unanswered calls and an inbox full of emails thanking me for my time but alerting me to the fact that unfortunately, there was no offer on the table. It was disheartening to say the least.

Yet almost three years ago to this very day, I made a decision that changed all of that. I decided that if my passion really was to be a writer, I needed to give it a red hot go and throw everything I had at it. That way, if I failed, at least I would have known I had tried with everything I had.

After important discussions with my girlfriends, I'd come to the realisation that doing what you love is the most important thing in life and I wasn't going to settle with being comfortable. I was going to be the champion of my own passions and the yearning inside me told me I at least needed to try.

I’d been a loyal reader of Mamamia and knew that they ran an Internship Program. I decided to apply and within 24 hours, I had an email in my inbox telling me to come in and meet with the Editor-in-Chief at the time for an interview. When I entered the offices I was ecstatic. I met with Jamila Rizvi who I was in absolute awe of. She offered me the internship on the spot and I started the very next week.

I arranged with the Principal at the school I had been teaching at to have my class covered for one day a week so I could go in to do my internship at Mamamia. It was an intense time, juggling a class of Year 1 students while also meeting the requirements of an internship. But I did that one day a week for three months and at the end of it, the unthinkable happened.

I was offered a job.

My foot had well and truly entered the door and I was even on the other side. This is the moment I had been dreaming of my entire life and it was finally here. I had a job, in the media, as a writer. From there, I took any opportunity that was thrown in my direction with open hands. No matter what it was, big or small, I put everything I had in me behind it.

I worked hard. Really hard. I would come into the office early and stay back late. I would work out of hours when anything was required. I would sit and listen and learn and soak up everything around me. But it was also thanks to the incredible women I had around me, supporting me, pushing me to grow and be better that helped me get to where I am today. Just under three years later I'm still here at Mamamia, having been made the Deputy Head of News about two months ago.

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The group of women (and two good men!) that Valentina works with everyday. Image: supplied.

To tell you the truth, I still need to pinch myself sometimes over the fact that I’m really here. I still sometimes wait for someone to walk through the door and tell me I'm leading someone else's life. However if I hadn’t followed what my heart was telling me to do all along and pursue my real passion for writing, I never would have gotten to where I am today.

That's the thing about dreams, they seem so unattainable until you're finally here, living and breathing them. That's what I tell all of the interns that walk through the doors of Mamamia with the same hope in their eyes that I had. Everyone needs to start somewhere and what use is there in admitting defeat before you even start? If something is truly your passion, you need to chase it.

I'm also incredibly lucky to work with such an amazing group of women who have almost become a second family to me. We listen to each other's ideas, help each other where we can and support each other's decisions both in and out of work. When times are tough they're always there to prop you up and push you to the finish line.

I’ll always be thankful for that decision I made just under three years ago. I’ll always be thankful for those brilliant women who believed in me and propelled me forward in my career. Most of all, I’ll be thankful that I made the conscious step to follow the passion that flickered inside of me when I opened that page of a magazine. It's that exact passion that brought me right here, writing to you.

What big career changes have you made recently?

This post was sponsored by our brand partner Truvee Wines.

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