Stephanie Chen

Stephanie Chen

Stephanie Chen

  • Year completed 2018
  • Current position Digital Co-Director, Democracy in Colour
  • Degree(s) Bachelor of Arts
  • Major(s) Journalism

Career summary

Stephanie Chen completed her Bachelor of Journalism at Monash University in 2018. After graduating, Stephanie worked for Planet Indonesia, an international not-for-profit organisation that conserves at-risk ecosystems through village-led partnerships. Steph spent eighteen months working in West Kalimantan as the International Communications and Content Manager, generating content for an international audience. She is now back in Australia working as Story Lead for Democracy in Colour, a national racial and economic justice organisation.

Career pathway

2020–curren Digital Co-Director, Democracy in Colour
2018 – International Communications and Multimedia Manager, Planet Indonesia
2018 – Bachelor’s Degree, Journalism, Monash University
2017 – Alumni Communications Coordinator, Monash University

Why did you choose to study a Bachelor of Journalism at Monash?

I chose to study this degree due to its flexibility. You can combine units from a wide range of academic and professional disciplines. I was interested in many areas, such as sociology, psychology, international relations and journalism. I ended up combining these fields in my studies.

I was attracted to study the Bachelor of Journalism because it is a reputable degree. I knew that news organisation and top media companies hired from Monash University’s Bachelor of Journalism.

Also, Monash has a reputation as being one of the best Universities in the world and this helped when I applied for jobs. I felt my skills were not in question because I had the reputation of a Monash degree behind me.

What has your career journey looked like since leaving Monash?

I lived in Pontianak in Indonesia for a year and a half after my degree working with Planet Indonesia. My role was quite practical. I was writing articles, press releases, making videos and producing NGO content, as well as strategising, fundraising and campaigning. Working in an NGO is very hands-on, so we had to be prepared to do a lot of different jobs. My degree gave me interchangeable, interdisciplinary skills which allowed me to be prepared to take on any task.

We worked across three different districts in the state of West Kalimantan and every month I would spend about five days in the field. This would include staying in villages or camping in the forest. While in the field I would collect the content and gather information about what was going on with the conservation work. And then I would go back to the office and process everything.

I’m now volunteering with Democracy in Colour, an NGO focusing in systemic racial injustice issues within Australia. I am the digital co-director and my role is to help strategize the digital content and help with campaigning and fundraising. We are currently working on the project Wage Subsidy for All, which is a campaign promoting a wage subsidy for every single person living in Australia, including people on working visas.

How did Monash prepare you for the workforce?

The communications industry is growing and constantly evolving. Government and business organisations are constantly recruiting for new communications roles and require skills in video making, writing and technological capability. The Media Lab at Monash prepared me for this by enabling me to develop these skills.

The Media Lab was just built when I started at Monash. It taught me practical content management skills that are needed in the industry. The newsroom, radio soundproof studios and all the equipment is exactly what an actual newsroom or radio station looks like. I learnt skills in production, editing and filming, and how to create TV shows. Getting these practical skills gives you an edge over your competitors.

Another great thing about the Journalism faculty is MOJO, Monash’s online student newspaper. At MOJO I started as a student journalist and worked up to the role of editor. The news is created by students and supported by lecturers to give you real life newsroom experience. It has the same roles and structure as the media industry. I learnt practical skills that paid off when I went out in the job market.

How did your international internships and study prepare you for an international career?

I received a scholarship to go to India and do community-focused internship with Engineers Without Borders. The organisation is all about human-centred change and allowing a community to determine their future.

It was a very practical experience and I learnt how a journalist would record a story internationally. One of my stories was published at the ABC afterwards – this gave me experience on how to pitch and work as a freelance journalist. The opportunity to go to India for this internship was pivotal in enabling me to create culturally acceptable content.

The Arts degree forces you to critically think about what you’re doing and how your skills can contribute to the world. For me, the Arts degree and my international internships taught me to step back and listen before speaking and acting.

The world is a complicated place and, if you want to make positive change, you need to consider those complexities. An Arts degree allows you to look at the facts and deduce a solution.

Interviewed by Lilly Walsh, journalism intern, Monash Arts, 2020