Name: Kirby McLaine
Course: Bachelor of Journalism
Year graduated: 2012
Current position: Senior Digital Manager
What was it like breaking into the industry? Was it more “who you know” than “what you know”? It was a bit of both, but interning was the connection between the two. I knew the role I wanted when I started the course, so I interned a lot from first year right through until the end. These internships taught me the skills that I needed to get my first role, but were also essential in putting me in front of the people who were hiring.
What is a “day in the life” of your current role?
As with most jobs in the industry, it varies so much! I work for an agency in a broad digital role, so I spend my time working closely with clients, writing digital strategies, creating content, planning campaigns, reporting, managing media spend, working on website projects and more.
What was a key lesson you learnt at Monash that translated into your workplace?
In 2010-2012, the effect of digital was really being felt in journalism and Monash was ahead of the curve when it came to education. I wanted to work in print, but my career path was completely changed by everything I learnt about the changing media landscape.
On more of a skills level, journalism assignments taught me a lot about the importance of picking up the phone to get what you want and having courage to go after a story – or whatever else it is that you need in your job.
If you could go back and do your degree again, is there anything you’d change? Subject choice? Time management? Internships?
Knowing now that I didn’t end up in print media long-term, I’d probably focus my internships more on digital. That said, the experiences you have shape who you are and where you get to, so I think it’s important to look at everything with a positive lens. Who knows where I would be now if I had done something differently!
What skill (or skills) would you recommend aspiring journos acquire before getting into the industry?
I’d recommend learning as much about the industry as possible, rather than just the area you want to focus on. Even if you want to work in print, upskilling in multimedia and digital will always be useful and open up more opportunities in the future.
Also, I wouldn’t have gotten my first jobs without my internships. Get as much experience as you can in a range of fields so you can really work out which direction you want to take.
When you were a child, what was your dream job?
It ranged from firefighter to marine biologist, but there was a long period of time where journalist was the focus.
What is your dream job now?
It’s hard to say in this industry because it changes so quickly and there’s always more areas to explore. Generally, I’m aiming for a Head of Digital or Chief Digital Officer role.
Who do you look up to most in the industry?
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg is such a powerful role model for women in tech, which is a notoriously difficult industry for women. Gender aside, she’s incredibly successful, intelligent and humble.
I’ve also been fortunate to have some excellent leaders in the past few years, such as my company’s incomparable strategy director Michela Ziady.
Have you kept in touch with any of your fellow alumni?
A little, but moving to Sydney after graudating has made it more challenging. We’re still connected on social media of course, so all is not lost!
Do you follow any sports teams?
What’s your coffee order?
Soy flat white – and yes, coffee is way better in Melbourne!