Meet our student

Rachael Roberts

Bachelor of Journalism (now offered as the Bachelor of Media and Communication (Journalism)

Course of study:
Bachelor of Journalism (now offered as the Bachelor of Media and Communication (Journalism)

‘The wonderful thing about La Trobe is that the University and its teachers will go to extreme lengths to help you gain experience in a wide range of fields. As the journalism industry changes dramatically, La Trobe is keeping up by making sure its students have all the skills that might be required later in their careers.

‘An example of this is the many publications La Trobe runs for Journalism students. In my second year of study, I was elected to be the editor of the La Trobe student magazine, Rabelais, for the La Trobe Student Union. I had the most amazing hands-on experience of editing and publishing a print magazine. This experience of managing, budgeting and recruiting writers for the publication was priceless. Campaigning for the editorship of Rabelais was the hardest and most emotionally draining thing I have ever done, however it led to the most exciting experiences of my young life.

‘Every day I would come in early to university and meet my co-editor, and we would check our emails and send out individual pleas to students to write for us or brainstorm ideas for articles that we could commission. My co-worker would open InDesign and start organising layout, while I would secure advertising, promote our readership through social media, or work on our website. We would usually work late and sometimes through the night.

‘Trying to produce eight solid editions in a school year with no money to offer contributors or artists seemed impossible at first. It took us two months to produce our first edition as we were mostly self-taught; but as we continued working 60-hour working weeks and completely stressing ourselves out, we eventually managed to complete our mission. An amazing feat which plenty of other editors haven’t been able to do! We also managed to throw some excellent parties for our few precious contributors and ended the year with a surplus budget.

‘Completing this exhausting year and accomplishing everything I set out to do gave me the confidence to know I can do anything if I’m passionate enough. An invaluable lesson is that journalism is a very competitive industry. This entirely extracurricular activity editing Rabelais taught me so much about myself: my limits, the value of hard work, and the rewards that come with a labour of love. Before this experience I had no idea what I was passionate about or what I wanted to do as a career, but now I know that I really want to produce my own magazine and that there can be satisfaction in hard work if you’re doing something you love.

‘Another perk of my Rabelais caretaking is that other students and teachers began to know us through our work and would approach us to take part in other projects, opening up a range of opportunities. This included being awarded a leadership role in the online magazine Upstart, run by La Trobe Communication and Media students. We were also given the chance to meet with other student editors from across the country who I had both a supportive and competitive relationship with. We would send each other our magazines and little notes. We were also given the chance to meet working journalists who edited student magazines whilst they were at university, like Clementine Ford and my personal hero Elizabeth Flux.

I remember at the end of first semester in my final year having a long discussion with a fellow student as to whether I should stay in an elective and edit Upstart with her, or do an elective in radio and podcasting. We decided I would gain some experience in radio because I had already been a section editor for Upstart and editor-in-chief of Rabelais. Having a third year student say they have had enough experience in one area, and being able to have many others to choose from, is pretty special.

‘You can see some of my work in editions 1 and 4 of Rabelais 2015.’

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