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An experience of a lifetime - winning the JB Fairfax Award

Posted on : 27 June 2017

Written by: Elise Pfeiffer

There are small choices we make in our day to days lives that can change the course of things to come. Some are as simple as purchasing a latte to get you through the next two hours of your lecture, and others are far more monumental. One of these choices was the decision to apply for the JB Fairfax Award for Rural Journalism. I submitted my application thinking there may not be much of chance of winning the scholarship but at least I’d given it my best shot.

It was this small decision that quickly turned into one of the best experiences of my life to date. 

As a part of the scholarship, I travelled down to Sydney to participate in the Sydney Royal Easter Show internship program - a fast paced two-week glimpse into the world of media.

With a healthy dose of nerves, I braved the city transport and found my way to Sydney Olympic Park, where I would spend the next fortnight working in and amongst the Show.

As a third and final year journalism student, the opportunities the internship program offered were unlike any other work placement I could have dreamed of.

Not only did the program enable me to complete a whole unit of my degree in just two weeks, it also encouraged me to create networks that will be invaluable for an entry level journalist like myself looking to apply for jobs in the coming year. Meeting John Fairfax was definitely one of the most valuable and defining moments of my time in Sydney.

Working with an array of media outlets, from television and radio to print media, I was also able to gain immeasurable experience in the journalism field as well as enhance my writing and organisation skills through mentoring. The Royal Agricultural Society and the Cox Inall staff involved in the program were knowledgeable, patient, friendly and eager to get me involved in every aspect of the job.

Each and every day at the Sydney Royal Easter Show brought something new, challenging and exciting, whether it was being a part of a live television broadcast or assisting in a photoshoot. Every morning I was eager to see what the day would bring, what skills I would learn and who I would meet.

During my first week of interning, I was lucky enough to be assigned to work with the GWS Giants AFL team and help the team film for their online content. This was definitely a fun night of work, watching the players battle it out on the giant slide before braving the horror house. Hanging out with the team was something I never imagined would be on my job criteria, so I was absolutely stoked to have done it as a part of my internship.

Another stand out moment was starring on Sunrise with my fellow intern, Cara who was in Australia as a part of her American study abroad program. This was her claim to Australian fame, and mine I should add, even if we were in the background.

But my most memorable experience of the two weeks was definitely assisting the ABC crew film an episode of Australia Wide, a television program I have long adored. I was able to see how an episode was scripted, produced, filmed and presented. On top of this, I was able to meet the wonderful host, Yassmin Abdel-Magied.

As a student from the regional town of Singleton, these experiences would never have been available in my hometown which is why the program was so valuable for me. If I hadn’t participated in the program, I would never have been able to gain such a significant level of experience in so many different fields of media at such an early stage in my career.

Aside from the professional benefits of the program, it was a fantastic opportunity to meet like-minded people who share similar aspirations and goals. Through interning I have made life-long friendships with people from all across the state, and even as far as New York City. Having these friends definitely made the experience, and the long train trips, all the more memorable.

The whole internship was an experience I will cherish for a long time, and I couldn’t recommend it enough to other university students considering work placement.

I give my appreciation and thanks to everyone who played a part in making the JB Fairfax scholarship and Sydney Royal Easter Show internship program possible.