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Written By

Katherine Kokkonen


College of Business, Law and Governance

Publish Date

7 April 2020

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Know your mind, pursue your passion

Find something you love and you’ll never have to ‘work’ a day in your whole life. That’s how the saying goes, but is it too good to be true?

JCU graduate Emily Quinn is proof that harnessing your passion can lead to an exciting and fulfilling career. She shares her top tips on how to make life matter.

Emily Quinn didn’t know it at the time, but she started her career in event management while still at high school.

“I’d wanted to learn more about events and leadership since I was about 15 and took the organiser role for a school formal, putting together a committee and bringing the event to life,” she says. “As I progressed through school, project managing smaller group activities, and participating in a few work experience programs gave me confidence in the direction I wanted to go.”

With that focus clear in her mind, Emily enrolled to study a Bachelor of Business, majoring in Management and Sports & Events Management at James Cook University.

Build a strong foundation

Going to university was a crucial step in Emily’s journey. While at JCU, she was determined to make the most of opportunities to build her knowledge and gain skills for her future career. From presenting projects to panels in entrepreneurial classes through to creating tourism event campaigns that would drive people to regional Australia, Emily was able to grow her understanding of the industry.

“The lecturers at JCU helped shape my degree,” she says. “It was great to have teaching staff who take time to get to know you and your individual circumstances, as well as having classes that are small enough for them to be really personal.”

Emily Quinn
Crowds attend the Warrandyte Music Festival

Dive into the field

Taking part in work experience while at university helped Emily to consolidate her knowledge of the industry. Great placements and internships have led to further opportunities, as well as the chance to kick-start her career.

“The biggest piece of advice I would give anyone looking to make their way in business and events is to take any opportunity you are given for work experience and give it your all,” she says. “I owe my current job and my previous two to glowing references from placements, internships and people who know people, all the way interstate too.”

Take a chance

After graduating, Emily did part-time event roles for about a year in Townsville. This gave her the chance to know the industry from different perspectives, such as event hire, event management and more. After this, she broadened her horizons and travelled through the USA for two months.

“Three days after landing back in Far North Queensland, I was on a plane to Sydney for a job interview and have been here since,” Emily says. “I’m currently working as an Executive Assistant and Event Manager for a company that takes music festivals to regional areas around the country.”

Moving to Sydney wasn’t always going to be easy, but Emily is glad she grabbed the chance to prove herself.

“I’m quite proud of myself for overcoming the hurdle that I knew moving interstate would be,” she says. “It was always going to be challenging, but with a year of work and a complete degree under my belt I had all the tools I needed to succeed in the city, so I took the leap and have never looked back.”

Musician playing keyboard in front of crowd
Band performs in local festival

Inspiration is all around

While she would one day like to work overseas, especially at some of the exciting and innovative events happening in Europe and the UK, Emily considers herself fortunate to be where she is now.

“I’m lucky to work with an exceptionally hard working bunch of ladies who inspire me every day to achieve my highest potential,” she says. “Breaking through the music industry mould with a 75 per cent female office, we’re full of passion for what we do and have no hesitation when it comes to doing things differently.”

From organising the school formal through to large events in the big smoke, Emily shows that it’s possible to turn your passion into a profession.

Whether you discovered what you want to do in life during your teenage years or yesterday, now is the time to capture the moment and start building a career.

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