From Strength To Strength...One Macleay Grad's Race To The Top

OPPORTUNITIES are rarely just going to fall in your lap, and from day dot Macleay made opportunities seem possible, as long as I was willing to look for them and work for them, writes Macleay grad Isabella Dugan.

WHAT a last 6 months it's been! Dare I say a Cinderella Story?

Maybe not quite that far… or, actually, maybe that far and it's time to take credit where credit is due!

Hi, I’m Izzy. I was at Macleay from May 2018 to May 2019, studying a Diploma of Advertising and Digital Media, and I promise I'm not as arrogant as that first paragraph suggests! I've been having one hell of a time recently, and here I am writing about it in the hopes of providing inspiration or intrigue into a random Sydney girl’s first foray into the media industry.

It all started with me dropping out of university out of confusion and frustration, wandering around for a bit, travelling, working in a bar. Then, come May 2018, I Googled ‘Sydney Advertising’, discovered Macleay College, and enrolled. I worked three internships during the year, and completed my Diploma with a job as a Social Media Manager. I left that role at the end of May and started my current job as a Social Media and Publishing Coordinator at the Michelle Bridges Group. If that name sounds familiar, maybe check with your mum ;)

So that brings me to now! 



Isabella Dugan hard at work in her 'best second-job ever' at 12WBT


My current role is the best second-job ever. In my day to day I get to write, to pitch, to create, to strategise, to accomplish, to fail and learn, and acquire new and invaluable skills. I’ve built a tone of voice brand guidelines and lead best practice presentations. I’ve built amazing creative partnerships with our designers (our design’s accompanying my copy on all 12WBT and Voome posts) and earned respect from the kick-ass lady at the top (who’s social media I also write for). And I get to work amongst an inspired, motivated team running current businesses and building new businesses with precision and passion. There’s never a still moment, and the work we do rebuilds lives. 

As such, the reward and return in my job is amazing; from blog views, comments and DM’s, to program sign-ups and Michelle’s brand partnership successes, to more meaningful data like changing minds, making families healthier, helping women become more confident and turning lives around.

Take two of my most recent blogs for example, all about what to do when you’re having a fat day and how to be happier. Now, for our target market, blogs like this resonate tenfold. They validate their experiences, offer camaraderie and advice without judgement, and the response I got across organic and paid social, email and in the 12WBT program was beyond heartfelt. And, yes, blogs like 5 reasons you can lose weight over Christmas are clickbait-y (and trust me, they always click) but I find such joy in telling stories, that I’m just as happy to be writing these educational pieces - and the ones that, let’s be honest, sell the 12WBT dream, but also convert the most leads, then the most sign-ups and, then, end up transforming a whole lot of women’s lives. Here’s to the power of storytelling!


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I couldn’t have dreamed this job up, and I continue to thank my employers for entrusting me, for believing I had earned this role, and everyday I strive to repay them in the good work I do. And aside from the company, I owe it to myself. I truly believe we shouldn’t settle for anything less than our best. A company should bring out your best, and no doubt the work too. So if you find yourself, like me, in a position where those stars have aligned, give it your all or move on, and find a truer purpose and job position.

Kind of intense, right... maybe a little bit?

Look, I’m just really vehement about making the most - in life, in work, in education, all of it. 

And that also means knowing when something’s not right, or things could be better.



Isabella outside the Surry Hills HQ of 12WBT on her first day!


I’ve said it to anyone who will listen: Macleay changed my life. I was seriously stumped before I typed those life-altering words into Google (again, thank god for SEO). I knew I wanted to do things - copywriting things, creative things, strategic things, media things -  and knew I had the talent and drive to make those things happen, for any and every company that would be lucky enough to have me. It just took Macleay to show me the signposts, to give me the confidence, and to give me the kick in the ass I needed to actually do something about it. Opportunities are rarely just going to fall in your lap, and from day dot Macleay made opportunities seem possible, as long as I was willing to look for them and work for them. 

I will make a song and dance about Macleay for as long as people keep asking - and they do keep asking! I think because people are genuinely interested in success stories that don’t come from traditional university education. No tertiary course had excited me before Macleay. It had everything I felt like I was missing out on. I was excited to learn and to participate, to intern, to study and to network. And my god, that sounds impossible even writing it now! But, Macleay pretty much turned the impossible around. Did I think at 22 I would be working in the job I do now? Hell no. Like… hell no. But finishing at Macleay, with the experiences I had under my belt, it kind of became, “Well, why not? Why can’t it be me?”



Isabella with her fellow 12WBT team member.


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My current success is due to the incredible opportunities that I refused to let slip, and my path of success is starting to mirror that of the tutors and lecturers, at both uni and Macleay, that I looked up to. It’s ridiculously exciting! This job is only the latest stepping stone in my career growth, personal development, work projects and all that other good stuff that comes from working in an industry that I’m truly excited about - and as I work toward my goal of becoming an ad copywriter. I’m talking big campaigns, big brands and even bigger stories.

So, watch this space :)


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