Following a gap year, Riverland local Cassie Bye, was lucky enough to begin university after graduating from Year 12 at Glossop High School with her first preference in a journalism degree at UniSA. Little did she know, after a few twists and turns through her uni journey, she would eventually land an incredible role working for one of the State’s leading politicians.
However, it wasn’t until a year after starting uni she had a change of heart and discovered her true passion laid in media and public relations. At the time, she wasn’t exactly sure which direction she wanted to head in, so this decision to swap to a Bachelor of Arts (Communication and Media Management) would offer her a wider range of options to explore post-grad.
Not long after graduating in 2012, she maintained a barista role in Adelaide before a friend informed her about a position vacant in the Riverland. Without hesitation she applied, sat for the interview and before she knew it, she was making plans to return to her home region for a promising role as the Tourism and Communications Coordinator for Destination Riverland.
Today, Cassie is still living and working in the region, and not long after the 2018 state election she took up the opportunity to excel her career and using her degree landed the role of Office Manager for Tim Whetstone, Liberal MP and newly appointed Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development.
The timing meant she was rushed into what was already a fast-paced and strong people-focused workplace, and she had to adapt quickly to the busy environment. She says, “there’s no ‘typical day’ in my role – it’s very diverse”.
“While I have to manage the overall function of the office – HR, budgeting and being the main point of contact for any parliamentary concerns, my other main priorities are liaising with the local media, assisting constituents with any issues they may have, editorial writing, research and working with local stakeholders in the electorate.”
Cassie believes her current role wouldn’t have been possible without her degree, which gave her the set of skills and wealth of knowledge used day-in, day-out working in politics.
From her employer’s perspective, they’ve each been confident in their decision knowing Cassie demonstrated leadership qualities, time management abilities and a range of other skills from previous employment and her university degree – and most importantly, she was a local who knew the area like the back of her hand.
Although her transition of relocating to the city turned her world upside down, this built up her determination and responsibility.
Some of the greatest challenges for her were being away from family, along with the struggles of finding (and maintaining) housing in the city and getting used to living on a tight budget (hello microwavable meals!).
If she had the opportunity to pursue tertiary education through an institution like the Murray River Study Hub back when she had finished high school, she’d be all for staying in the region.
And after some reflecting, she admits it’d definitely be the beneficial option to maintain her preferred lifestyle and advises others who have the opportunity [to enrol] to give it a go.
“There’s no pressure to continue if you don’t enjoy the course you start off with. The best thing to do is have a chat with your course advisor to discuss your other options before throwing in the towel.”
Cassie’s advice for local Riverland high school students who are keen to study at university, is to check out all of the help that’s available – “there’s a lot of great services available for prospective students”.
“Have a chat with someone who’s been through the ins and outs of university life, or even better, pick the brain of someone who’s had experience in the course you’re interested in.”
“It may seem like it’s out of your reach, but the end result is definitely worth it. Plus, uni life can be lots of fun with its own unique set of experiences only other uni students can relate to – it’s a path I would definitely recommend.”
Keen to go down a similar pathway in communications and media, like Cassie? Fill out an expression of interest form here.