We Discovered Why Macleay Alumni Are Thriving

We went to graduates' workplaces and loved what we saw.

On April 11, the diverse and friendly faces of Macleay’s 2019 graduands gathered at NSW Parliament. Light found a way to shine through heavy clouds, shimmering across the Fountain Court and illuminating greenery in the Domain. After the ceremony, Heads of Faculty and the Recruitment team chatted with the new graduates, learning that many had already landed industry roles.

Head of Journalism Fiona West discovered that 66% of her graduates had gained industry employment within four months of completing class. The result is nearly three times higher than national average reported by Mumbrella. After the ceremony, Macleay’s Recruitment team were invited by graduates to visit them at their workplaces. This is what we learned along the way...


Head of Journalism Fiona West with alumnus Bishroy Bassilious at the Macleay 2019 Graduation Ceremony in Sydney.


Graduates Are Thriving

Graduates love their jobs! At the dazzling Swarovski headquarters in Alexandria, Business alumnus Holly Moody is soaring through a series of promotions. “During my first year [at Macleay] I secured a role at Swarovski as a PR assistant,” she says. “A year later, I became the PR and Communications Coordinator, and now I’ve secured my position as Events Executive here.”

Journalism graduate Kezia Dawn is experiencing similar success. She greets us in full hair-and-makeup outside Sydney’s iconic Opera House, fresh off the plane for a work trip. The full-time sports reporter for Nine News has her hands full with live crosses, footy coverage and field reporting. “So, [there’s] a lot of exciting stuff going on,” Kezia says. “A lot of fast-paced action and a lot of on the spot thinking, which is really great.”

In leafy Surry Hills, not far from Macleay’s Sydney campus, Advertising and Media student Isabella Dugan is starry-eyed with pre-graduation success. The 21-year-old works as a Social Media Manager at hip creative agency Toast Creative three days a week whilst undertaking her final trimester at Macleay. Isabella’s artistic aspirations have become a reality faster than she expected. “I was told that [being in the creative industry] was not likely at a young age,” she recalls. "That’s not true. There are avenues and schools out there, like Macleay, that will support you and your specialisation. I feel like an adult, which is something I didn’t expect to happen so quickly!”

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KeziaDawn_UncompressedMacleay alumnus and Channel Nine News Reporter Kezia Dawn.


Macleay Creates Career Pathways

Macleay’s integrated internship program is key to the success of many graduates. Holly, Kezia and Isabella are all employed by companies they interned with during their studies. But the success stories don’t end there!


Advertising and Media grad Caitlin Thomas is Marketing Assistant at the iconic Luna Park in Sydney. She aptly describes her colourful role as a “mixed bag of lollies,” ranging from campaigns and promotions through to TVC and radio work. As Luna Park's marketing guru, Caitlin has opportunities to dabble in both creative direction and strategy. A chance to work at the harbourside venue was thanks to the strong portfolio Caitlin developed at Macleay. “I came into Macleay wanting to be a graphic designer and walked out as an Account Manager,” Caitlin says. “The lecturers gave me the chance to understand so many different parts of advertising that have applied to lots of different career choices available to me.”


Across the water under the looming Anzac Bridge, graduate Lachlan Guertin is living his pop culture dream – working full-time as a Junior Digital Producer at NOVA Entertainment. “Starting at Nova was really exciting because it is a celebrity-based program,” he explains excitedly. “We went from having the Chainsmokers come in one day and then George Ezra and Guy Sebastian all in one week!"


Macleay’s student-run news-site Hatch allowed Lachlan to develop industry-ready skills. We bet he makes NOVA Newsroom Director and Macleay lecturer Michelle Stephenson proud! “Macleay has really helped with my job in terms of managing different styles of journalism,” Lachlan explains. “I’m able to go into doing video and then turn around and write an article or manage social media profiles.”

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Macleay grad Caitlin Thomas at her workplace Luna Park Sydney.


Macleay’s Industry Professionals Open Doors

Lachlan isn’t the only Macleay graduate to recently land a job at NOVA. Sydney Journalism alumnus Thomas Tobler interned under Michelle Stephenson in his final trimester, before landing a radio role. His lecturer-turned-colleague Michelle believes that mentoring is an integral part of her role at Macleay. “That’s what I love,” she says. “When there are students in the classroom who show really great potential, I get them to come in and intern with me, and quite often they end up with jobs.” 

Across the harbour in the quiet north shore, Digital Media student Sam Ma is another of Macleay’s pre-graduation success stories. A Junior Graphic Designer at digital agency Peppermint, Sam is softly-spoken and incredibly talented. He believes Macleay’s smaller class-sizes cultivate potential. Sam’s lecturer Jason Geminis is the person to thank for the internship that turned into a paying role. “The first project I did at Peppermint was rebranding for a small company,” says Sam. “I illustrated new logos and visualised [the client’s] ideas."

Business Event Management graduate Ashleigh Chapple also gained from Macleay’s industry connections. Her current role as Project Coordinator at AGB Events is the result of a study-related internship. “Having industry professionals as lecturers was really important to me,” Ashleigh says. “They really understood the industry and could give me a lot of professional advice that I wouldn’t have gotten at another university.”

Macleay Really Cares

Ashleigh knows what life is like at a sandstone university, where you’re just “another person in the mix.” Ashleigh struggled to thrive in a large, impersonal environment. Her memories of Macleay are the total opposite. “My experience at Macleay was really amazing,” Ashleigh says. “Everyone at Macleay really cares about you and the institution as a whole. I just loved being there!”


In the sprawling burbs of Western Sydney, Zafira Shahishta recalls positive memories of Macleay during a morning cake-baking session. The young entrepreneur has valuable skills thanks to her Business lecturers, who went “above and beyond” to help Zafira establish a catering company called Whisk. “Having industry professionals gave me insight into what people would expect when I got out there,” she explains. “They were able to give us tips that we could implement in our own businesses and helped me gain confidence… They encouraged me to come up with my own business… and a catchy name!"


At Macleay, Sam cultivated his creativity. Studying the Bachelor of Digital Media gave Sam the option of specialising in an area of interest. Sam chose four electives within the Digital Video stream, honing skills in photography, production and motion graphics. "The many skills that I learned at Macleay [have] brought me into the role I'm in today," says Sam. "I use Illustrator, Photoshop, and other Adobe applications to create content."

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Macleay student Sam Ma is having pre-graduation success with a paid role at Peppermint Digital.


Kezia Dawn believes learning from industry professionals is crucial for everybody's success. “They gave me a lot of advice, especially when it came to a voice,” she says. “As a broadcast journalist, your voice is one of your most important assets besides your writing ability."


Isabella Dugan is eternally thankful for the real-world learning she does at Macleay. “It’s been so handy,” she affirms. “I can actually refer to my notes on my laptop if I’m unsure of something at work. I’m hoping the lecturers’ thoughts aren’t IP protected because they’re in the world now!” 


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