From podcasts to Google, Emmeline Peterson (2009) talks about carving out her own path
|19 Oct 2020|
Years attended Arden
Kindergarten – Year 12 (1997-2009)
Graduate Diploma in Radio Broadcasting
Digital Producer at the Google Creative Lab and Freelance Podcaster/ Producer
Emmeline Peterson from the Class of 2009 had a chat to our Community Engagement Coordinator, Alana Macallister recently about her life and career post Arden. In her interview, Emmeline spoke about the courage required to try out different career paths in order to find a career you connect with. Describing her career journey as anything but linear, Emmeline began her career in the commercial radio industry. She has since worked in e-commerce, launched a music zine, and established herself as a freelance podcast producer. She is currently working as a Digital Producer at the Google Creative Lab in Sydney. Emmeline believes she secured her exciting new role by taking risks in her career, talking to the right people, being open to every opportunity and staying true to her values. Read on to see how Emmeline has carved a career for herself in the creative space.
How did you know what career path to take after you left school?
When I was in Year 11, I remember telling my Careers Advisor, Mrs Paskin, how much I loved music and she was the one who encouraged me to pursue a career in radio. I knew that university wasn’t really for me and I was keen to get out in the world and work. So, after the HSC I applied for a Sales Coordinator role at 2GB and I got it. It was an entry level position and not in production, where I knew I wanted to be, but it was a foot in the door and was a step in the right direction. While I worked here, I spoke to as many people as I could, and told them I was looking for a production focused role.
Do you believe it is beneficial to talk to other people about your career aspirations?
Yes, talk to anyone and everyone about your aspirations. You never know where a simple conversation will lead. When I was at 2GB I spoke to producers and put myself in front of the on-air personalities, asking if I could sit-in on their shows. Eventually, someone told me there was a job going as a Call Vetter on one of the weekend footy shows. It was a part-time job which meant I would need to work both jobs to keep earning a full-time wage. So, I worked 7 days a week and I was happy to do it because I was so focused on my goals. I was also young and had the energy and drive to back me up. I even got a few production jobs here and there. I worked like this for a few years, but eventually I left 2GB, to pursue a role with an organisation whose values more closely matched my own.
How important is it to you to work for a company that reflects your values?
It is so important in life to stay true to your personal values. If a company’s ethos doesn’t sit well with you don’t be afraid to move on. Realistically, you can’t always wait for the perfect job to come along but try not to overstep your own boundaries. Do what you need to do to get ahead, but you don’t have to do anything.
What direction did you take next?
When I left 2GB I did an intensive one-year radio broadcasting course at AFTRS (Australian Film Television and Radio School). Then I worked in a rural radio station for a while to get experience as a producer. But I soon realised I didn’t have the passion for radio that I once had, and rural living wasn’t for me. So, I decided to move back to Sydney and take a break from thinking seriously about my career for a little while. I moved out of home and worked casually at a clothing store, I travelled and enjoyed my early 20s. I also spent a lot of time working on my own creative projects.
What kind of creative projects were you involved in?
One of the projects I was involved in was Hot Mosh - a bi-monthly music zine that I started with my friend Fin. We also teamed up with Deep Sea Arcade to start a music night called ‘Visions’ at the Oxford Art Factory. I loved working on this project because it indulged my passion for local music.
After this, some friends and I launched The Ladies Network - an art-based project that championed women in the arts. We held several art exhibitions featuring female identifying and non binary people. This project gained a lot of momentum as people became interested in what we were doing. The first exhibition was unexpectedly successful. People were spilling out onto the streets, and the police ended up shutting it down—it wasn’t rowdy or anything, but I think they were just a bit confused as to what was going on because there were so many people in this little space!
Was a career break helpful in figuring out your next move?
Looking back, I can see that I actively used this time to reassess and explore what I truly wanted to do. I tried lots of different things and collaborated with other creatives. All the while learning valuable skills. My creative projects eventually led me to my next role. I was offered a position as a coordinator at Well Made Clothes, one of the companies we had collaborated with at The Ladies Network. I was really interested in ethical fashion at the time, so I said yes to this opportunity. It was a great job and after a little while I was promoted to E-Commerce Manager. I realised I loved e-commerce and learnt a lot about it. Which was surprising because this was an entirely new direction for me.
What advice would you give to others who are struggling to find out what they want to do?
A lot of people go to university to get a better sense of what they want to do but this isn’t the only way to figure it out. If you are unsure of what you are meant to be doing and, if you’re in a position to, try as many things as you can to give yourself a taste of what’s out there. I feel like, especially in the creative industry, if opportunities aren’t available, make your own. If you want to be a writer, write for yourself. Want to be an artist? Hold your own exhibition. Don’t wait for others to give you what you want.
How did you get involved with podcasting?
I actually started producing a podcast about Adam Sandler movies as a hobby with my friends! It was just for fun but working on this taught me a lot about what goes into producing and editing podcasts. I still had an interest in radio and production and experience in this field. I loved listening to podcasts and the medium was growing. After some thought, it just clicked that maybe I should look into this. I took the plunge and left e-commerce to pursue this full-time as a freelancer. I had some savings behind me and was willing to get a casual job to support my income at first if necessary. But eventually I got some work with a small podcasting company and did a bit of work on their shows.
How did you move from this to working at Google?
While I was freelancing, I was introduced to a producer at Google by a mutual friend. A few months later she told me there was a position going at Google and encouraged me to apply. Even though I hadn’t considered a position like this before and didn’t have any experience in digital production I wanted to take every opportunity I was presented with so decided to go for it. A few weeks later I was told I had the job. I was excited and nervous, but I knew I had to take this amazing opportunity. I was ready for my next challenge. I haven’t ever played it safe in my career but when I have taken risks and stepped outside of my comfort zone it has always paid off for me. Google has given me so many learning experiences I never would have been exposed to if I hadn’t taken that leap.
What has been one of your biggest accomplishments?
On a personal level, I would say one of my biggest accomplishments has been learning to prioritise my mental health over my career or anything else. My career is important and such a big part of my life, but it can sometimes come at the expense of my mental health. I think that has been a journey in itself for me; making sure that is a priority. Especially during difficult times like these, when we need to isolate ourselves and work from home (interview conducted during COVID-19 pandemic in July 2020). You can have an incredible career and wonderful relationships but if you are not keeping an eye on your mental health then all of this means nothing. I consistently take the time to check in with how I am feeling and make a habit of talking about my mental health with others. It is something we should all be doing.
What does the future hold for you?
This year has thrown a lot of my plans up in the air, but I think everyone can say the same! My contract with the Creative Lab ends at the end of this year so after this I will take some time to reassess. I have considered a year overseas or some travel if it’s possible. I have recently taken up baking and cake decorating which I love, and can see myself spending more time doing that (I started a small business, Bain Marie Bakes, selling cakes for charity), but I also think I’ll stay in production. It’s a job that allows you to work in so many industries and try different things. I will wait and see what the future holds for me and be open to new possibilities.
Emmeline, thank you very much for sharing your journey with us.
Don't be afraid to try new things in your career
Emmeline created music zine Hot Mosh while taking a career break
Emmeline's new business venture - Bain Marie Bakes
Emmeline (front row, fourth from the left) in Kindergarten at Arden