How’d You Get The Job is FYA’s latest series where you get to meet the team behind FYA and find out, well, how they got their job!
At FYA we love talking about jobs, careers and the skills you need to get from one job to another. We know that a young person today is likely to have 17 jobs across 5 different industries. It’s no longer about the linear career path! We don’t have to look much further than our very own team to find out just what that non-linear path might look like in action.
Once you’ve found out all you can about Rita Khayat, head over here and meet Digital Coordinator Sam Danby, here to meet $20 Boss Program Manager Annie Buckeridge, then take a virtual tour over here to meet General Manager of Programs & Events Molly Whelan.
What’s your title, what does it mean and what do you do?
My official job title is Enterprise & Changemaking Manager, but you know, that’s pretty full on. I’ll generally just tell people I’m a Program Manager. I manage and produce some of the awesome programs and events we deliver here at FYA like the Unleashed Festival and the SBS Youth Week Filmmaking Competition. That means deciding on what gets included in the program, sorting out the logistics and admin behind it and having the fun job of delivering it!
What were you doing before FYA?
Before I started at FYA, I mostly worked as a freelancer in arts events, like major arts and music festivals. I programmed and ran music, theatre and comedy venues. I was also a production and tour manager for an independent theatre company. I don’t think I could sum up in a paragraph or even an essay all of the things that came along with that career path!
My early work life as a teen was definitely a mish-mash of random things though, like telemarketing, retail, hospo, door-to-door sales and working at a talent agency. I even had a stint as a legal assistant at one point. Random.
What did you study at uni (if at all)? Is it relevant to your job?
I studied a Bachelor of Production (Theatre) at the Victorian College of the Arts. Although I didn’t actually stick to theatre for very long, that course was a massive springboard for all of the early experience I got in the industry. I did secondments and internships on festivals through that course, and things pretty much took off from there. It not only put me in front of the right people for work, but it was a pretty fitting introduction to the work hours (read: loooong work hours) and general culture of the arts.
How did you get started at FYA?
It’s a pretty magical tale, really… Nah, just a cool turn of events. I got called in to stage manage the Unleashed Festival when I was freelancing, and the producer of the event ended up being the wonderful Molly Whelan, whom I’d actually worked with on some arts events years prior. I really wanted to follow up with her after the gig to see if there were any permanent roles going at FYA, but she called me first! Within a few months of stage managing Unleashed, I was producing it for the following year. So you know, network, network, network!
Favourite part of your job?
I really love the programming part — choosing artists, speakers and designing workshops. It can be a bit daunting, some things can be a gamble, but when good programming pays off it’s a great feeling.
It’s no mystery around the FYA office that I love giving opportunities to young artists whenever I can, so being able to continue that sort of work within the realm of social change is basically a dream come true.
Least favourite part of your job?
Whoever decided that “full-time” was 5 days a week was a real stick in the mud. This isn’t really a “least favourite part” for my job specifically, more just work life in general. If only full-time work was considered to be 4 days and we had 3 days to do all the other stuff we wanna do with our lives, what a dream!
I’m still getting used to a permanent position, which is ace for stability, but I do miss being able to block out weeks in my freelance calendar just for sweet sweet holiday times.
Is your career going to plan?
To be honest, my plan was always “do as many different things as I can”. When I was working in the arts, I wanted to work on as many different mediums and art forms as I could. In my current job, I’m technically in the same ongoing role, but it’s still project based. I get a mixed bag of projects thrown into my portfolio every year, and I really thrive on the variety. So, in that way, yes — my career is going to plan!
What do you want to be when you grow up?
An engaged, experienced and challenged individual. How lame does that sound?! Sorry, but seriously, I don’t have a career in mind, I just want to keep doing what keeps me engaged. If I’m in a job because it pays the bills, please slap me. I’d like to keep building my experience, my portfolio of work so that I can always have options open for myself. And if the work isn’t challenging, then it’s probably not where I should be. I think my mum will be very proud of this response.
What is the single most valuable skill in your job?
Project management skills. It’s in the job title for a reason. I don’t know if I could narrow it down to one skill, you have to be a bit of a Jack/Jill of all trades in my role. However, the big ones would have to be time management, people management, communication and task management. Being able to foresee what’s going to be needed to deliver a project, then knowing how to make all of those steps happen and do that on time. These come with time and making some mistakes along the way.
What’s been your biggest career challenge?
Learning that mistakes are okay, and in fact crucial to progress. That last line that I wrote in the paragraph above? That was almost uncomfortable for me to write. But really, it’s an important thing to learn. I’ve put a lot of pressure on myself to get things right all the time, and that’s basically led to nothing but burn out. Mistakes are okay! I still have to tell myself that every now and then. Oh, and remembering people’s names. I’m the worst at that.
What’s one piece of advice you can offer to someone who wants a job like yours?
A broad range of experience is really invaluable. You might not realise how useful one random job was, or that retail or hospo job was, until later on. I think you learn something out of every job you have, so keeping things varied can do wonderful things for your complexion and CV!
What’s one piece of advice you have for someone who has no clue what they want to do?
Don’t stress too much. Look at what you enjoy doing, and go from there. We’re all gonna have a lot of different jobs, in more than one industry, so take it job by job; you really never know where you’ll end up!
Tell us something weird about you.
No one can accidentally kill a houseplant quicker than I can. Fact.