In this series, TalentEgg will be exploring the lives of young professionals who have gone off the beaten career path to find success. From artists to entrepreneurs, their stories illustrate the importance of pursuing your passion.
Unlike most young professionals, Julia Lennox knew exactly what career path she wanted to pursue from a very young age. In kindergarten, she proudly announced that she would be an optometrist when she grew up so that she could help people see their world a little better.
However, in the tenth grade, she had a realization that is much more common to Millennials; she actually did not want to embark on a medical career and had to seek out a new path instead. Rather than pursuing a safe career choice in medicine, she decided to follow her passion: she would use her love of writing and performing to enrol in the Radio and Television Arts program at Ryerson University, changing the life she had thought she’d wanted.
Although this career shift seems like a complete 180, one thing remained the same: she hadn’t given up on helping people see the world. The only difference is that now she gives people a fresh perspective on their culture, country, and local community through television and radio.
Today, Julia is a Writer and Producer at ANDPOP, a Canadian media publication. She creates video and editorial content, as well as doing on-air hosting, sharing stories from all facets of pop culture with Canadians across the country. Want to find out how Julia went from a lab coat to the red carpet at the MuchMusic Video Awards, where she hosted celebrity interviews for ANDPOP this year? Stay tuned to learn more about her success story.
Finding her passion
When she decided to change her career trajectory, Julia reflected on what she had always loved to do. Unusually, she always enjoyed public speaking, a task that has most of us shaking at the knees, and she’s a natural communicator. After a career counsellor suggested the Radio and Television Arts program at Ryerson University, Julia knew that a career in media broadcasting would be the perfect culmination of her skills. She applied and was accepted on the first try, and the rest was history.
Alongside her classes in media production, Julia took on many internships, giving her resume an impressive roster of workplaces before she had even graduated. She interned at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, a TSN program called “Off the Record,” the radio station Indie88, and Bell Media. In these diverse work experiences, Julia did everything from audience management to running a teleprompter to researching story ideas, giving her a relevant on-the-job education.
To anyone aspiring to start a career in media, Julia says, “I think the more well-rounded you are, the more skills you can bring to the table. You can be the expert in your field, but if you can’t jump around and help bring the team to the next level, you might be at a disadvantage.”
For Julia, taking on new career opportunities was the best way to learn about the industry and find a role within it where she could thrive. Beyond that, it helped her meet inspiring career mentors who gave her professional guidance.
“Be yourself, and know what your strengths are. Know where you can excel and really sell that to somebody.” Julia Lennox, Writer and Producer at ANDPOP
Building a network
While Julia’s career path has led to success, she is quick to point out that it didn’t happen overnight or without dedication and extremely hard work; in fact, she faced the same doubts and anxieties as anyone about to enter the workforce.
“When it comes to your career, everyone has hesitations,” she says. “When you are approaching graduation and you’re nervous about applying for your first real full-time job, you question yourself constantly.”
To fight this feeling of uncertainty, Julia advises all new graduates to use their connections, get out of your comfort zone, and network. A key step in her career path was getting in contact with people whose careers she admired, setting up informational interviews to learn from their experience and ask them for advice regarding her own professional path.
“In a tough job market, don’t be afraid to ask, ‘What’s your advice?’ Because people can relate to that feeling of going out into the world and trying to sell yourself, and they’ll be willing to help you,” she says.
For Julia, networking is another learning opportunity, much like an internship or your education. And who knows? Making the effort to meet new people may just help you land your dream job.
Seeking out opportunity
In her fourth year of university, Julia was looking for an internship. When she hadn’t found anything, she reached out to a friend who worked as a videographer for a media publication. Little did she know that one little inquiry would lead to her future career. According to Julia, networking was how she “…fell into ANDPOP by accident.”
While ANDPOP wasn’t looking for interns, they were looking for freelance writers. Julia had just finished her senior thesis project, a Toronto culture magazine called MUNCH. This had made Julia confident in her writing and editorial skills, and, never one to shy away from a new experience, she signed on to write articles for ANDPOP. After about nine months doing freelance stories and compiling a written portfolio, she was offered a part time position to assist with ANDPOP’s social media and editorial strategies. With hard work and passion, Julia impressed her editors and was promoted to being a Writer and Producer for ANDPOP, a career opportunity that came down to her initiative and getting in touch with the right person at the right time.
Finding a career you love
For Julia and most young professionals, balancing school, work, and family life is a challenge that tests anyone’s time management skills. However, when asked about her ability to stay on track and keep pursuing her dreams, Julia’s career advice was simple: love what you do.
“When you get an opportunity to work in an environment and talk about things that you love, you really have to hold onto that,” she says. “The way I stay motivated is to be appreciative of any assignment that really speaks to me. That’s when I really latch on to do the best job I can.”
Julia is a decided advocate for pursuing your passion over choosing the safe route. While building your professional reputation and saving responsibly is incredibly important to anyone launching their career, Julia notes that you have to balance financial gain with a career you genuinely love.
“You’re going to do your best work when you’re passionate about that work,” she says.
For Julia, this core mantra has held true, and following her dreams led her to a meaningful career (not to mention the red carpet). While her childhood ambition to be an optometrist has shifted, Julia is still doing what she always set out to achieve: helping Canadians view their culture and communities in a new light.
As an aspiring media presenter, be it on T.V., radio, or even YouTube, Julia’s career hit an exciting milestone when she was asked by ANDPOP to interview stars at the 2016 MuchMusic Video Awards in Toronto this summer.
“Being able to host a live show on one of the biggest red carpets in Canada was incredibly daunting and amazing and I loved every second of it,” she says.
“It was 40 degrees and I was sweating profusely, but it was amazing, and so surreal to be able to talk to people that I admire and musicians I’ve been listening to since I was a teen. It’s one of the moments I’ll never forget.”