Sarah Berry lives and breathes her job as Lifestyle Health Editor for Fairfax Media. She is constantly putting her body on the line to test the latest health trends then delving into the science of why they do or don’t work.
She’s been in the industry for a decade and is more than qualified to dispense career tips and advice, with a diverse career trajectory ranging from freelancing to teaching yoga to writing/journalism and even hospitality.
Here are 10 questions with Sarah Berry, interviewed by Founder of ShellShocked Media, TV personality and Journalist, Shelly Horton.
1. What made you want to work in the media?
I’m naturally a voracious reader and very curious. I’ve always asked too many questions, so I suppose it was a natural fit.
And when I was lucky enough to fall into a job in publishing and was given the chance to write I fell in love.
2. What was your first job and what path led you to your present job?
My first job in the industry was as the office manager/personal assistant to Deborah Thomas at the Australian Women’s Weekly.
While I was there I was given the opportunity to write health and beauty content. Those opportunities grew and when I decided to go and do my yoga teacher training, I became a freelance writer.
I did yoga and freelancing in tandem (and some hospitality work to pay the bills) before eventually deciding it was time to commit to this journalism caper by enrolling to study.
While I was still studying, I got part-time work as a producer/journalist at the Sydney Morning Herald. I put my hand up for every opportunity, worked my butt off, and in due time was given a full¬time role as a health and wellness journalist.
Five years later, I’m the Lifestyle Health Editor.
3. What do you love about your job?
I love the variety, the people I work with, the opportunity to speak with people and do things I would never get to ordinarily.
I also work in an area that I am personally passionate about, so it is much more than a ‘job’. Plus, it’s constantly challenging and stimulating and there is always room for growth.
4. What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your career?
Having patience and learning to manage stress in a healthy way.
Having the responsibility to tell stories with balance and truth and the capacity to make them interesting and engaging.
5. What do you think is the biggest misconception about people in the media?
That they are a serious, sombre bunch.
6. Describe your typical workday.
It is varied. Generally, I start at 7am and make sure we have fresh stories up. Afterwards, I look at what stories we want to do for the day and divvy those out.
The next few hours tend to involve writing, editing, potentially filming video content to go with stories and lining up interviews. I will commission freelancers and reply to various pitches.
Oh, and trying to keep a tenuous lid on a never-ending stream of emails. There are also meetings and research/preparation for upcoming interviews.
7. What is your dream job?
I love my current job.
Down the track, I imagine I will return to freelancing as a features writer and write books.
8. Do you think the industry is harder for women or men?
Neither, in my experience. It is down to the person, timing and tenacity.
9. Now that so much of the industry is online, do you believe it’s a case of adapt or die?
I’m not sure that it’s even a question now. It is essential to adapt and be fluent/willing to learn how to work in different mediums and formats.
10. What advice would you give young people considering working in the media or in communications?
Be willing to learn from everyone you can - both how to do things better and how not to do things.
If you are passionate about a particular area, that will make everything easier as your enjoyment and engagement with the subject matter will show in your work.
Stay curious and don’t be afraid to challenge the status quo. But also be aware that others have more experience so try to keep an open mind and leave your ego at the door.
Be willing to intern, work part time or do whatever it takes to get a foot in the door. And be persistent (although if you haven’t heard anything after three attempts, leave it).
Once you’re in the door, it is unlikely you’ll get to do what you want immediately but if you show enthusiasm, capability and work hard, then there’s likelihood you’ll start being given the chance.
Speak up, let people know what you’re good at and what you want to do, but also what you don’t understand. We have all been there and you will save yourself and your employer time and energy if you allow them to help you. They don’t expect you to know everything.
Finally, career paths are rarely linear, so don’t lose hope if it doesn’t work out immediately or in the way you expected. Just keep learning, keep knocking on doors and find ways to stoke your passion.
Are you thinking of changing careers? Read our career change guide to get the most current advice to help you make an informed decision.