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Career boosted by scholarship

How Women in Media Queensland's scholarship helped me find my path.

By Meg Purtell

I had the privilege of being awarded the inaugural Women in Media Queensland Career Boost Scholarship in 2020. As I reflect on how much has changed for me since then, it is clear the scholarship had exactly the career boosting impact it was established for, and for that I will be forever grateful.

Thanks to the scholarship I was able to study several units in the Enterprise Leadership Program at Queensland University of Technology (QUT) focusing on innovation, strategy, and leadership.

When I finished, I chose to continue my studies and went on to attain a Graduate Certificate in Business (Enterprise Leadership) – my first university qualification a couple of decades after finishing high school.

Not bad for someone who thought GPAs were out of 10 when I started! My course was initially delayed due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, so it seems only fitting that my graduation was postponed for the same reason. I look forward to donning my gown and mortarboard with my fellow graduates.

During my time at QUT I was asked to participate in a video about my study journey to show how I was using what I learnt in the workplace.

Those who know me know that I have spent my whole career trying to wrangle my way out of a piece to camera in television stories whenever possible, so the thought of having a film crew follow me around for an entire day was less than appealing.

One of the determining factors in agreeing to share my story was the number of women I had spoken with since being awarded the scholarship who were faced with the same mid-career conundrum that I had been.

Smart, talented, impressive women, across a range of industries and businesses, who all wondered the same thing – “is this it?”

For some of the women I spoke to, the hesitation to apply for a new job or develop a new skill set was around self-doubt – they couldn’t possibly be any good at it – but their track record clearly stated otherwise.

For others it was another thing to add to the already overwhelming juggle. Or they felt guilty that they would be spending time on themselves instead of with their kids, partners, or friends.

Meg Purtell studied at QUT thanks to the career boost scholarship. Photo: Glenda Markwell

My advice was always the same –you have nothing to lose and everything to gain, but you need to believe in yourself.

That is not to say that it was an easy journey for me, or that there were not stumbling blocks along the way.

But anything worthwhile is always worth it if you go in with an open mind, willing to learn from each experience, and knowing that at times you might get a little bruised or disheartened along the way.  

The days were long and the deadlines were constant. I ate way too many lollies, and I definitely didn’t get enough sleep – who does?! But the hard work has paid off. 

After 15 years behind the microphone and in the field for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), I recently hung up my headphones for the last time and started in a new role in the national editorial strategy team.

It is not where I thought I would end up when I started on this journey, but I am learning and growing every day, and I know that I have found my next path to explore. 

I am so thankful that the Women in Media Queensland committee had the foresight to establish the Career Boost Scholarship, and that the judging panel could see my potential, even while I was still figuring it out.   

I would encourage all mid-career women who are feeling stuck to put in an application for the 2022 Women in Media Queensland Career Boost Scholarship.

While there can only be one winner, regardless of the outcome it will help you to think beyond where you are now to what your next steps might be. 

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