When I left school I wanted to be a musician. Unfortunately my father believed that drumming was a good hobby but not a career. I left school thinking I could do anything but not really sure what that ‘anything’ was.

Russel Howcroft
Russel Howcroft

My parents suggested university so I enrolled in a course that had business in the title. That’s when I got my first big break – I got sick. Glandular fever. It seems strange to look back at glandular fever as a lucky break, but the truth is that it gave me time away from study and while I was lying flat on my back I started thinking – really thinking for the first time about what I wanted to do with my life.

I knew I wanted a job, a car, to travel and eventually a house and a family one day. But I also wanted a job where I wasn’t just punching the clock, going through the motions.

I realised then and there that I had to just get myself into the workforce somehow, somewhere.

My first job wasn’t going to be my only job and I needed to just try my best and slowly make my way to the job I really wanted. I replied to an ad in the local paper and found an entry level job. I stuck at it, and over time I improved and I got more experience.

After that I had an opportunity to do work experience in an advertising agency. After a week I was hooked. I put so much energy into that week they didn’t have the heart to let me go. Thank God. I ended up finishing my degree part-time while working there.

At Channel 10, every one of my senior management team has a different story of how they arrived at their job. None of them has had a smooth and easy ride. Some have faced huge challenges.

There isn’t the right way or the only way in the world of work. There is only ‘your way’.

Sadly many young Australians can find themselves disconnected from the world of work – despite being the most connected generation we’ve known. I would encourage young people to use the technology available to their advantage – use it to expand their networks and understanding about the world of work.

There is so much information available about the skills, training and work opportunities and how to take advantage of them – it’s literally only a click away.

What all my colleagues have in common is that they are energetic and passionate. They’ve all made mistakes, but have learnt from them. When they’ve stumbled or been knocked down, they’ve got back up on their feet, dusted themselves off and had another crack.

I always dreamed of having a job like I have today but at the age of 20 I had no idea how I would get there. Now at 48 I can see that I got here by taking one step at a time and making the most of every post. When you start out you can’t always see the end-point, but you just need to have a bit of faith in yourself, work hard, and move forward one step at a time.

Russel Howcroft Executive General Manager, Channel 10

This column first appeared in the Brotherhood of St Laurence's Youth Unemployment Monitor March 2014.