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How Two Aspiring Journos Ended Up At Macleay…And Where They’re Going Next

Tima and Helena are studying journalism at Melbourne's Macleay campus. I found out how they came to be at Macleay and where they're headed next. 

“I used to dread going to university [Swinburne], I never wanted to get out of bed. However, my time at Macleay has been the complete opposite.”

For journalism student Fatima “Tima” Halloum every day at Macleay is different. “The spectrum of people you meet is broad. You corner politicians, interview kid magicians and listen to survivors share their hardest moments. The stories we cover are always changing, but the highlight is that people trust us with them to begin with,” says Tima.

Her peer and fellow aspiring journo, Helena Abdou says every day at Macleay brings about a new sense of adventure, “you never know what story you'll be covering next. One day you're in the midst of a media scrum outside court and the next you find yourself outside an exorcist's house.” 

They certainly make Journalism at Macleay sound exciting and that’s because it is. For both girls, journalism has felt much like a calling.

Helena was convinced she’d head down the law path, but realised soon after high school ended that her love for journalism heavily outweighed her love of law. So, she headed to Swinburne University and completed a communications degree, majoring in Journalism. After graduation, Helena began the daunting task of job hunting which proved infinitely difficult and so, on the advice of a friend, was encouraged to return to study. This is where Macleay comes in. After some research and deliberation Helena enrolled a week before orientation, the best decision she could have made, she says.


Girls prep for coverage

Thriving in Macleay’s hands on style of learning, Helena (R) says she’s learnt more in the year I’ve been at Macleay than she did in the four years she was at a larger university.


“I used to dread going to university, I never wanted to get out of bed. However, my time at Macleay has been the complete opposite.” For Helena, the relationships at Macleay are what stand out the most. The supportive environment, one in which “you’re not just another faceless name in a crowd of 200” is what makes it so worthwhile.

Internships, which are an integral part of the course, have given Helena invaluable experience and an insight into the world of broadcast journalism, that is not necessarily 100% authentic when you’re in a study environment. She is currently interning at Ticker TV, an online news channel that was started up by former Sky News journalist, Ahron Young.


Helenas articles edit

Helena is building quite the portfolio as she flexes her skills writing for Hatch Macleay.


Upon reflection, Helena says she would have done things differently if she could, “I’d have chosen Macleay over a big university to begin with. It’s the perfect place to kickstart your career and learn from some of the industry's best journalists. You're encouraged to get out there and apply all the skills you've learnt along the way. No two days are ever the same!”

As for the future, Helena is hoping some clarity comes with a little more experience in the field, but would love to land on her feet at SBS, since they cover the stories she’s most interested in and passionate about.

Helena writes for Hatch, run by Macleay’s journalism students and has covered a range of stories from the aftermath of Christchurch to the Victorian State Election last year.


“I’d have chosen Macleay over a big university to begin with. It’s the perfect place to kickstart your career and learn from some of the industry's best journalists."


Reporters Fatima Halloum (L) and Helena Abdou ask voters: Do you recognise these two men?


Fatima “Tima” Halloum is as focused and passionate as her peer. She has always been interested in people and their stories so combining that with her natural curiosity, journalism felt like the best fit, “it just never feels like work,” she says.

Having started down a similar path to Helena, Tima had done the “normal” university route and came away feeling totally lost and unprepared. She decided to look elsewhere. “When I was researching a place to study Journalism, I came across a Macleay student’s twitter profile and was amazed at the quality of her work. It was easily at an industry standard!” From there she got in touch with Macleay recruitment, enrolled and walked through our Melbourne campus doors. “Best decision I ever made!” she says.


RECENT ARTICLE: Journalism Students' On The Job Learning Delivers Results


Macleay’s atmosphere was a breath of fresh air, she says, “what surprised me the most about Macleay was the unique way the students and teachers interact. On my first day, I overheard one of the lecturers ask a student how their break was - and then actually seem interested in the student’s response. I had just come from a much larger university so I was completely mind blown that a teacher even knew a student’s name!”

Here at Macleay with personalised study and small-size classes you really do get to know your teachers, and they you. For Tima, “the level of support and dedication of teachers and staff,” along with the industry-level learning has been the best part. “I’m confident in the skills I’ve been taught at Macleay. Wherever journalism takes me, I’ll be prepared for it.”


girls broadcast

Getting in some last-minute preparations before doing their first live cross for the Federal election earlier this year.


Tima was lucky enough to land an internship with the ABC which proved to be both a challenging but incredibly rewarding experience. “I knew that I only had a few weeks to make a good impression,” she says, “so I followed the advice of my lecturers and worked really hard and it paid off.” Like many of our Macleay-bred interns, Tima was soon wowing people with her skills, “I was able to do my own pick up and interview an economist for one of the 7.30 episodes, which isn’t something a lot of interns get to do. It was really surprising to see how appreciated and valued you are for your work.” Her hands-on, industry-prep classroom learning helped steer her in the right direction, she says, “there wasn’t a single moment in the month that I spent there where I felt unequipped or like I wasn’t prepared enough to do the work that was asked of me. I’m fortunate enough to be learning from some of the best, and I know that so much of what I was able to accomplish at the ABC is because our lecturers will go above and beyond to help us when we need it.” Having the personalised care and attention of her Macleay family was a huge support, “some days were intense,” she says, “but being told I was the best intern they’d had made me really proud.” With her teachers checking in on her regularly and her friends filming classes she was missing, she was able to fully thrive in that foreign environment while remaining supported in her familiar one. “I really can’t think of any other learning institution that would offer the same level of encouragement, and it reaffirmed everything I already knew about Macleay, it’s one of a kind,” she says.


RECENT ARTICLE: How A Journalism Student Became Mamamia's Editorial Assistant Before Graduating


Now set on a path of success Tima has steadfast goals for the future. “My goal has always been to produce stories that generate positive change, make the reader feel something, and hold people to account. If I’ve managed to do all three by the end of my career, I’ll be content.” With similar passions to Helena, Tima has a “dream job” but is just keen to get her feet wet in a field with which she’s fallen in love. “I hope to end up at the ABC or SBS, but I’m not picky and I’ll go anywhere if it means I get to write stories!”


timas articles edit

"I'll go anywhere if it means I get to write stories!"


Tima also writes for Hatch Macleay, and a highlight of hers was covering the Women’s March in Melbourne earlier this year.

“I really can’t think of any other learning institution that would offer the same level of encouragement, and it reaffirmed everything I already knew about Macleay, it’s one of a kind.”


womens march

Women took to the streets of Melbourne to fight for their rights. 


Tima, like Helena has thrived at Macleay where our focus is sculpting smart, skilled and job-ready graduates who can hit the ground running on day one. “If you want to spend your university years learning from professionals who genuinely want to teach you, in a friendly and supportive hands on environment, Macleay is the best and only place for you!”

For more about the girls, follow their stories on Hatch Macleay or follow them on Twitter @helenaabdou and @timahalloum. 


Journalism at Macleay College

Students become working journalists from the first day they step into Macleay. They work on real stories in a real newsroom across all media platforms.

Journalism students are taught by industry experts that are up to date with the latest trends and are well connected in the industry.

Curious to know more about the Journalism programs at Macleay? Check out the student run Journalism website here. 

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