Open Colleges

My Twisted Career Pathway Led to My Success

by Yvette McKenzie
Posted: June 25, 2015

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By Tresna Lee - ANZ Regional Lead for Yelp

Gone are the days of having a career for life. In a time when things move quickly, and new jobs are emerging that we didn’t even know about five years ago, it’s more likely that you will have a portfolio of careers before you hit your 40th birthday. But where to start? Not all career paths follow the same route and you might be on one that is leading you to a job you haven’t even thought of yet!

At Yelp, our Community Managers need to have a portfolio of skills. From hosting events, negotiating partnerships, writing newsletters, speaking on radio and being the face of Yelp (sometimes while wearing a silly costume!), the individuals who take these roles need a mixed bag of talents. It’s a fun and wild job and people who have taken a multi-faceted career path are the ones who can most easily step in and succeed in the role. Here we take a closer look at the paths that three of our Community Managers have taken to land themselves their dream job.

Ben Barnett - Sydney Community Manager

When I was finishing school I wanted to be a vet because I loved animals, then I realised I'd have to cut them open so that dream died. Then I wanted to be an architect and turned up to my first day of work experience in Year 10 with 72 Derwent coloured pencils and they laughed kindly at me and told me everything was done on computers now.

I studied Journalism and Marketing and worked in four different advertising agencies (some local, some multinational), a design agency, and did some freelance copywriting along the way. It got to the point in advertising that I didn't believe in what I was doing anymore and had zero work/life balance, so I quit to take a year off to travel the world, I guess you'd call it a sabbatical. Out of the blue a friend from Chicago told me that Yelp were coming to Australia and that I should check them out.

In my current role I genuinely believe in what I'm doing. I love the idea that it's by the people for the people, that we're contributing to this community resource that's used by millions of people every day, all around the world. I get to work with cool people doing cool things, travel, and explore the city I love. In my first month on the job I made a cafe owner cry (with happiness!), which was a sign to me that what I'm doing is making a difference in people's lives.

Mel Pay - Melbourne Community Manager

I have always been a bit of a geek, growing up behind a computer. When I was finishing school, I was really torn between wanting to work in PR/Marketing or going down a track of learning to build websites. I have a stronger love for writing than coding, so I went down the path of a communications degree. Thankfully I kept my curiosity for technology going and my skills up to date, so when social media exploded I was in a great position to bring these skills together into unique emerging careers in the digital industry.

My career path hasn’t been a straight line. I worked in communications and advertising on both client-side and agency. I’ve worked with local organisations like Guide Dogs Victoria and large ad firms like FCB Global and Clemenger BBDO on major accounts. I have thrown myself into a lot of projects and jobs that took my interest and have found that diverse experience can lead you to some extraordinary careers. I took a job performing at Movie World to combat a fear of public speaking. I studied to become a dog trainer to fuel my passion for behaviour and teaching. I wrote more than 300 reviews on Yelp and volunteered to help at events before a job opportunity came up - all of this I have been able to learn and draw from in my career.

Anita Decoster - Adelaide Community Manager

After completing high school, like most kids, I was confused about my career. I had found an interest in social sciences, entertainment, art and literature so enrolled in a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Philosophy, Criminal Justice, Education and Psychology. That way I got a taste of most things I was interested in; but after completing my BA I was still confused about my career! I knew that I loved criminal justice and philosophy and decided to enroll in law.

On reflection, I think that I studied law for the wrong reasons; I was more interested in the philosophy behind it rather than practising. I did really well and was awarded honours; but after starting my legal career I was put off by the legal culture. I was left with a choice, continue working in a legal career that I loathed and disagreed with; or think about taking up something I was more passionate about. I wrote a list of all of the things that I loved to do and that list brought me back to university to study event design and management. This was the best decision I could have ever made!

I have worked on major events and festivals across South Australia and the Northern Territory, have been contracted for weddings and have even dabbled in pyrotechnics! I am what you might call a social butterfly. I love meeting new people and helping others on their ventures through life. I get the best of both worlds in my position as Community Manager for Yelp in Adelaide. One day I am helping businesses get customers, the next day I am catching up with Yelpers and throwing amazing events!

Top tips for developing your own diverse career path

  • Try to get a grounding in the things you're interested in then sample different things - and keep an open mind, it's the best way to learn what you like and what you're good at and see what opportunities are out there.
  • Explore volunteer opportunities and be involved in any way possible, while learning the skills that makes you employable in that field.
  • Learn to be a good networker – this doesn't mean being overbearing and simply handing out business cards, it's more about having a curious mind and talking to a lot of people. Target people in likeminded industries via social media and seek out mentors.
  • Don't waste time stagnating in a job you don’t like. Don't be scared of change. Change is exciting!
  • Take opportunities as they come to you. If someone asks you to meet them for a cup of coffee, go and meet them! You have nothing to lose. You may even just make a new friend.
  • If you dread going to work every day, our best advice to you is to follow your heart. Do not be afraid to leave a position because you think it’s risky! Most successful people take risks.

To make it to the interview stage, you’ll need a great resume. Where do you begin? Download Open Colleges Careers’ Resume Template document and get started. Simply click on the link below:

Resume Template



Yvette has over a decade of professional experience at some of Australia’s largest media corporations, including Southern Cross Austereo and the Macquarie Media Network. With a degree in Communications (majoring in Journalism), she covers stories on education, new knowledge technologies and independent learning.

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