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And that's Yak

After two years with the Yak Media Herd, it's finally time to say goodbye to what has been such an important chapter of my life. With graduation number two lurking just around the corner, it was time for me to step down from my role as Managing Editor and make way for the next generation of Yaks to take charge and lead the organisation into its tenth year at UON.

I started volunteering at the student media publication back in March 2019 as their Promotions Coordinator. I joined the herd wanting to further my skills, knowledge, and expertise in communications, media, and marketing before I graduated at the end of that year to truly discover if working in that industry was what I wanted to do. During this time, I'd done just that - I learnt how to manage and train a team of promotions officers, craft content copy to meet the brand's tone of voice and style guides, and became familiar with the world of social media marketing through the promotions of weekly online articles and other marketing campaigns, such as with the yearly Meet the Team campaign and ad-hoc tasks like giveaways. Additionally, this role provided me with event management experience as I hosted with the Promotions team a Biggest Morning Tea fundraiser, several Yaktivities for team bonding, as well as the Issue 50 Launch Party where Yak Alumni attended to celebrate the organisation's milestone.

At the end of 2019, I had planned to finish up with the herd upon graduation, however, things hadn't exactly turned out that way. Instead, Leanne Elliott, Ryan Reece, Josie Small, and myself, found ourselves helping transition Yak into an independently-run student media publication at the university prior to recruitment at O-Week. Thankfully, I had completed this process once before with the UoN Writers' Club, so we were able to expedite the process and get the new Yak established relatively quickly. And as you all well know, my very last minutes decision to pursue postgraduate studies in 2020 meant that I ended up staying on for Yak's first year of independence, this time stepping into the role of Managing Editor.

During this role, I oversaw all of Yaks production, be it editorial, promotions, or design. It was a much bigger workload than my previous position, but it also taught me a lot about managing a team at a larger scale, as well as managing multiple projects, teams, and administrative duties. All in all, I loved my role as Managing Editor. It allowed me to work with the university staff to organise AHEGS volunteer recognition for the Yaks, find new ways to grow our online presence within the UON and Newcastle community, as well as gave me the opportunity to publish a magazine, something I had never seen myself ever achieving. I got to write and edit stories, create content plans, brainstorm content ideas across all teams, edit video footage, capture behind the scenes footage, and so, so much more.

Honestly, I can't say how truly proud I am of the herd for all that they have achieved in the past year. 2020 was a rough year to start with just by going independent - there were a lot of hiccups we had to work out, details we had to fine-tune, and of course, several concerns with how we were going to go on our own. Then, only a few weeks in, the country was put into lockdown, and our team had to adjust once again to working and collaborating remotely. Despite the concerns we had about going independent, in conjunction with the ones we had about running our team online thanks to COVID, our student volunteers did an absolutely amazing job. 2020 was the year that Yak found its connection with the UON community once again. It was the year that tested our creative problem-solving skills to produce quality work despite the challenges of isolation. It was our best year on record in terms of online web-traffic and views (okay, fine, second best, but only if you count the 2016 April Fools prank). And in terms of online web presence and social media growth, that had grown rapidly too.

Going independent ended up being a very good move for the herd, and I am so proud to have been apart of that movement to bring awareness and attention back to such a strong, loving, and caring community of student media volunteers. Everybody knows how much I wish I had joined the herd sooner, how much it has helped me grow as a human and a creative industries professional. Leaving a community that I have put (literally) hundreds of hours into over the past two years has been an emotional experience, but I am looking forward to closing this chapter in my life and beginning whatever the universe has in store next.

PS: Best of luck to the 2021 Managing Team, Leanne Elliott (Managing Editor), Phoebe Metcalfe (Deputy Managing Editor), Patrick Alderton (PR Coordinator), and Hollie Hughes (Treasurer). I have no doubt that you'll do us Yak Alumni proud x

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Interested in reading some of my old Yak articles? Click here!

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