When Emily Verdouw set out to trek Macchu Picchu, little did she know it would lead to her first job – as a video journalist for one of the world’s biggest online magazines.
Telling Macleay journalism students how she met her future editor from The Huffington Post at the top of the Peruvian mountain while recording a video blog, Verdouw stressed the importance of seizing every opportunity.
“I had just graduated and told him I was moving to London,” she said of her fellow trekker.
“He happened to be the exec editor of The Huffington Post, and we just stayed in contact from there.”
Verdouw is now the associate video editor at the Australian office of The Huffington Post, a position she earned after working at the London office for about two years before returning home to do a six-month stint at Mamamia TV.
While she acknowledged her foot in the door was somewhat of a lucky break, she stressed she never asked for the job.
“Networking is not about what someone can do for you, but what you can do for them,” Verdouw told students.
“Giving someone a call and showing them what you can do, this is when the jobs come.”
She said these days it was hard to convince someone to give you a job based solely on your CV. You had to have something to show for it – even a simple video created on an iPhone.
“Don’t underestimate what you already have,” Verdouw said.
“I recorded so much stuff on my phone when I was first starting out.”
Verdouw said today’s journalists needed to be multi-skilled and students should really get “stuck in to digital”.
“Video plays a huge part in the future of digital,” she said.
“Producing, reporting, shooting and editing: get good at it all.”
Verdouw’s projects have taken her all over the world and have seen her tackle many “taboo” topics, like domestic violence and mental health: “I like to talk about what we’re not talking about – I strive to make an impact.”
She has covered the trauma of PTSD and returning from war, and her upcoming project will challenge the norm of masculinity within Australia.
Verdouw told students to think about what social issues are driving society, and to do their research. She also encouraged them to look closer to home when seeking out stories.
“Go and chat to your mates,” she said. “Ask them if they know anyone with a story.
“When people want to talk to you and tell their story, this is when it works best.” – Amy Larkin
Picture by Jasmine Motti, video produced by Ben Rochlin.