Let me Entertain you
Where are they now? Susannah Guthrie, 2009 School Dux, shares her career pathway from St Catherine’s to interviewing Quentin Tarantino.
What is your current position and what does it involve?
I’m the Entertainment Editor at national news website The New Daily. My job changes every day but it mainly involves commissioning and editing stories from freelancers and reporters as well as occasionally writing my own pieces, doing interviews with entertainment industry figures and attending lots of movie screenings (my favourite part!). The news doesn’t sleep, so it can be a very hectic job, but I love the energy of the newsroom and the enthusiasm of the brilliant people I work with. There’s never a dull moment.
What is your career background?
I studied Media and Communications at the University of Melbourne. A year after graduating I got an internship at US magazine People. My time there made me fall in love with journalism and when I returned I started working as a reporter at The New Daily. Since then I’ve managed to slowly work my way up the ranks to become an editor. I also work as a freelancer reviewing cars for a motoring website.
What have been two of your greatest career achievements to date?
Surviving my first internship at People was a big one because I was completely terrified! I have also been lucky enough to interview a lot of people I admire, but meeting Quentin Tarantino was a pinch-me moment. I love his films so talking to him one-on-one was a huge honour. My other greatest achievement would be hosting a travel show on Channel Ten called A Taste of Travel, which sent me to Thailand and the United States. Doing television was daunting for me but I ended up loving it and I’m so lucky to have had the opportunity.
What challenges have you faced professionally and how have you dealt with them?
Most of my challenges have been born out of the very common feeling that you don’t know what you’re doing or you’re not capable of an undertaking a particular challenge. I’ve learned in my professional career that everyone feels like this, but some hide it better than others. Every time I’ve felt daunted by a task or confused and overwhelmed I’ve found the best solution is to be completely honest, apologetic and upfront. Much easier to let people know you need more information or training than to end up rushing something or taking a blind guess. However, I’ve also learned the things that scare me are usually the most worthwhile and that taking risks usually pays off. So I guess it’s a combination of taking risks but also knowing when to ask for help.
Thinking about your career progression, what study did you undertake post-school and how was it beneficial?
To be completely honest, I didn’t find my tertiary education all that useful. This wasn’t necessarily the fault of my university, but the result of my not really knowing what I wanted to do. I’m really glad I got my degree (a bachelor of media and communications from the University of Melbourne) because it’s opened a lot of doors and I had a lot of fun enjoying the social side of university, but most of the skills I’ve acquired have been through internships and real-life experience.
Reflecting on your time at St Catherine’s how do you feel the School/staff/students assisted you?
I really do believe the teachers at St Catherine’s provide an incredibly high level of support for their students, particularly in the final years of schooling. I’m very self-motivated, but I found my teachers really rose to the occasion in terms of matching the effort I put in. Your education really is a team effort, as long as you’re willing to put in the work. I still remember (and appreciate) my brilliant English teacher Mrs Lloyd letting us drop practice papers off at her family home during school holidays to be marked so we could continue getting feedback at all hours of the day. That’s a pretty impressive level of commitment!!
What advice would you have for current St Catherine’s students, particularly our VCE students, when selecting subjects, tertiary courses and careers?
Everyone says it but it’s true – do the subjects that interest you. I figured out pretty quickly I loved Humanities and my main strength was writing, so I chose subjects that sounded fascinating (like International Studies) or that were completely essay-based (Literature).
St Catherine’s has a proud history of Old Girls influencing a number of industries. Do you have professional networks of Old Girls that you keep in contact with? If so, how have these connections been beneficial?
St Catherine’s girls are everywhere and all of them are willing to help out fellow students. I got my first job (in retail) through my St Catherine’s connections and in my current job I encounter former classmates almost daily. It helps to have that extra connection when you’re trying to secure an interview on a deadline!
Is there anything else you would like to add about your time at St Catherine’s?
St Catherine’s really embraced me and allowed me to flourish even though I came to the School at quite a late stage (Year 10). I didn’t quite realise how beneficial the small class sizes and teacher commitment were until I left School and spoke to others about their secondary school experiences. I guess I really believe you can’t go wrong if you use the resources available to you and see your schooling as an opportunity, not a burden. I’m still reaping the benefits.