Our 15th genYOU Story comes from our very own Saara Khan. Far from being boring and linear, Saara’s journey to her dream job (yes we are that awesome at genYOU) has had more than one twist and turn!
Name: Saara Khan
Current Role: Digital Marketing Coordinator at generationYOU
One // Could you tell us a bit about yourself and your career journey?
I was born overseas in South Africa and have been living in Australia since I was 2-years-old! I am a long-distance runner and an avid fan of Instagram, Pinterest and plants.
I am passionate about writing and communication and using my skills to help people and business. When I was in high school I wanted to be an investigative journalist and go undercover to break big stories on corruption … I’m happy to say that I’m quite content to have found myself in the more “laid-back” industry of PR/Marketing and I’m excited to see where my journey takes me!
Back to the beginning …
I chalk my beginning back to when I started my first day of University at The University of Melbourne (UniMelb) in February 2013. As I grew up in a small town in Far North Queensland, UniMelb was the huge “star” that I wanted to reach for! What I didn’t prepare for was the overwhelming sensation of moving to a new – and very big – city alone, attending a university where the average age of my fellow students was 22 (I was not even legal yet – I was 17), not knowing if I had chosen the right degree and being very very scared of my own ability to succeed!
I was on a flight home by the 6-month mark, feeling very sorry for myself indeed.
So what did I do?
I worked for the rest of 2013 at a small coffee shop in Carnarvon, Western Australia (where my parents had moved to) and did A LOT of soul searching.
Did I still want to study media and communications? Yes. Did I still want to be an investigative journalist? Not at that point in time, but there were plenty of other career paths where I could make a difference using a mediacomms degree.
I finished 2013 by applying to study media and communications at the Queensland University of Technology, was accepted and on my way over to Brisbane 3 days after Christmas.
Was I scared? Hell yes … all I could think about was how I failed when I first started my university journey! But life doesn’t wait for you to “be ready,” it keeps rolling along and I wasn’t going to let the fear of failure keep me from chasing my dreams!
My first job …
The turning point in my university life was when I landed a part-time job at property development group Penfold Property Group (PPG), in Brisbane as a Public Relations Coordinator in 2015. This came about by making a good impression with the Managing Director every time he came into the chocolate store I worked at (literally) – so you never know who you’re going to meet at your casual job or what value can come out of good manners (#networking).
It was intimidating and stressful working in a corporate job as a university student … plus packing classes, fitness and a social life into one calendar and trying to stay sane all at the same time. Would I change a thing? No way.
I was able to apply every skill that I was learning in my classes at uni into real-world situations. Did I make mistakes? Sure. Were there tears? Yes. Did I doubt myself? Yes. At PPG I learned that I need to back myself and trust my skillset a lot more! My passion for writing grew and I learned that maybe Public Relations was an industry I would like to work in. I was also lucky to have a Marketing Manager who valued my opinions, gave me responsibilities and taught me A LOT – working in such a small team kept me grounded and ensured that I didn’t grow too big for my boots.
I was at PPG for 1 year and 9 months and in that time the marketing team and I had 8 print articles published in The Courier-Mail!
Lost in pre-graduation frenzy …
This is a big one for me. The start of this year was ROUGH. I knew that I had one more semester to get through and I also knew that unfortunately PPG didn’t have room for me to start working full-time. I graduated in July 2017, and when I think about my last semester of uni all I see is a blurry version of myself dashing between work, classes, an internship, a volunteer position, (trying) to go for runs, applying for jobs and giving myself pep talks in the mirror.
It wasn’t easy.
I think what kept me sane was the fact that I wasn’t trying to compete with anyone else, or convince anyone of how busy I was, I was truly doing all of these things for MYSELF.
My journey at generationYOU …
It took 3 months of active job hunting before I came across the Digital Marketing Coordinator position at generationYOU.
It then took 6 weeks from the time Lisa posted the job position to when I walked through the doors as a full-time employee.
I can honestly say that I thank my lucky stars to have landed this role and to be able to work alongside two co-founders who believe what they preach, are patient and have a world of marketing and events knowledge. Every day we work towards making a difference in the lives of students and graduates who are entering the workforce. My ethos of using my skills to help people? I am living and breathing it.
Highlights so far?
This year I worked with the team to organise and pull together our generationYOU Live Events in Sydney and Adelaide (I had the pleasure of meeting some of you in Adelaide!) – it was exciting and rewarding to see the room full and filled with students and graduates ready to unleash their potential.
I have only been with generationYOU for 6 months and I’m looking forward to what the rest of the journey holds for me (watch this space)!
Two// Now that you have reflected on your journey, what’s your one piece of advice you would give to our audience?
Our lives are by no means linear and neither are our career journeys. I hope that by reading my journey so far you realise that it’s okay to make mistakes, it’s okay to stop and have a break – but you should never be too afraid to continue to chase your dreams. Remember your roots and stay grounded!
The last 5 years haven’t been easy … they have included a lot of work, doubts, laughs, work, tears, high-fives, successes, mistakes, lessons and GROWTH.
Three // Who is your biggest inspiration and why?
My biggest inspiration are both of my parents – my Dad is a high school teacher and my Mum is a nurse. They both sacrificed everything they had to leave South Africa and bring my siblings and I to Australia for our safety and education. They have always supported me, trusted me and encouraged me to do my best and I hope to one day be as humble and inspiring as them.
Did you enjoy reading Saara’s story? You can let her know by connecting with her on LinkedIn.