What’s after uni? Where Sarah took her double degree

By completing a double degree and graduating with multi-disciplinary skills across journalism, business and public relations, Sarah Owens has set herself up for a remarkable career.

Armed with these skills and a positive attitude of taking opportunities wherever they present themselves, Sarah’s career has progressed from TV Journalist in Bundaberg, to working on major international events in the UK and then to becoming a Senior Media and Communications Advisor.

We catch up to discuss her career and experience at QUT.

What was your first job out of uni?

Reporter, WIN News Wide Bay.

How did you get that start?

Work experience and a lot of it was the key. Throughout uni I’d worked as an Assistant Producer with 7 News, a Producer in the Today Tonight newsroom and a Researcher/Journalist for Fox Sports News.

When the opportunity came to move to Bundaberg to join the WIN News Wide Bay team, I jumped at it. I spent the next two and half years with WIN News, also working in its Rockhampton and Sunshine Coast newsrooms. I covered everything from crime, court, council and sport but the highlight was being a local journo in Rocky during the 2010-11 floods, which made international headlines.

Can you tell us about your move oversees?

In May 2012 I made the move to London – eager to take on a new challenge and chapter. I landed a position with the Lawn Tennis Association, the National Governing Body for tennis in the UK, and soon began my move to the “dark side”. I worked across a number of projects and campaigns – it was an exciting time at British Tennis with Andy Murray winning his first (and second!) Wimbledon and Great Britain winning the Davis Cup in 2015.

How did you end up working for the Commonwealth Games?

Five UK winters later and it was time to come home and get a much-needed vitamin D boost. There was no better calling card then a role in the Media, Public Relations and Communications team of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games. I worked specifically on the Queen’s Baton Relay which took me on a 100 day journey around Australia, travelling 40,000km, visiting more than 185 towns and telling the story of the 3,800 Aussie legends who carried the Queen’s Baton! Once it was safely delivered to the Opening Ceremony, I moved into the role of News Desk Manager, based out of the official Main Media Centre, for the 10 days of GC2018.

Sarah Owen interviews Olympic medalist Sally Pearson, OAM, during the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.

What is your role at the moment?

I’m now back living in Brisbane for the first time since graduating from QUT and am working for Urban Utilities, the fourth largest utility in Australia. As a Senior Communications and Media Advisor I’m responsible for managing various issues and media enquiries, as well as generating positive news stories and promoting the great work of the organisation. I act as a company spokesperson, frequently fronting the media as well as hosting and producing internal videos. I also play a key role in the emergency management team and manage the 24/7 on-call media roster Urban Utilities operates.

What made you choose QUT?

Ever since I became interested in journalism whilst I was at high school, I knew how valued and respected the QUT creative industries journalism program was. The faculty had just undergone a makeover before I started and the resources in the journalism building were second to none. I knew the key to journalism was getting as much practical experience as possible and wanted to give myself the best chance in getting work straight out of university. I knew QUT was the place for me.

What did you find most beneficial, or particularly enjoy about your experience at QUT? 

The opportunity to write, film and file news stories across multiple platforms was so beneficial. As a budding television journalist, the experience on QUT News provided me with a show-reel, an understanding of how to act in a media call, an appreciation for how a newsroom is run and an opportunity to meet journalists in a real world setting. This experience set me up for my first job in Bundaberg. You are thrown straight into the deep end when you enter a regional newsroom and the practical learning I gained at QUT enabled me to hit the ground running.

During your course did you have the opportunity to develop industry contacts or gain experience through events or internships? 

I got a two-week internship with Channel 7 Brisbane through university which lead to paid casual work as an Assistant Producer. Being part of the Channel 7 newsroom helped me develop contacts, put my skills to work and helped me gain full-time work straight out of graduating.

Now as a Media Advisor, many of the contacts I have called upon in my last two roles with Urban Utilities and GC2018 are fellow QUT journalism graduates. They’re either also working in PR or are some of the leading journalists in the country. These industry contacts are so invaluable.

How did your learning at QUT prepare you for career challenges or help you get to where you are today?

Because of the nature of being a journalist, hands on experience is so crucial to be workforce ready. I cannot stress how vital the practical learning you receive is; being taught by real world journalists with experience across multiple news forms. Many of my lecturers/tutors were journalists and I still keep in touch with them today.

How did you find the experience studying a double degree?

The flexibility QUT offered was fantastic. The business degree gave me a comprehensive grounding in the workings of an organisation, from finance and accounting to operations and marketing and gave me a platform to explore a range of roles.

If you’re interested in a diverse career like this check out the QUT Bachelor of Communication that allows you to choose from one of five majors.

Alternatively, like Sarah, you can also study a communication double degree with business, information technology, justice, law, science or public health for greater career flexibility.