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Career journeys: Georgia Tappy lost her job during the pandemic, which turned out to be a blessing in disguise

People find amazing jobs on EthicalJobs.com.au every day. This is part of a series of articles that go behind the scenes to meet some of the people and organisations finding each other through EthicalJobs.com.au. 

Today’s story is from Georgia Tappy, who found her role as Social Media Coordinator at Epilepsy Foundation on EthicalJobs.com.au.

The Epilepsy Foundation of Australia (Victoria and New South Wales) supports people who live with epilepsy as well as individuals and organisations that support, care for, or work with people with epilepsy, to ensure that ‘no one with epilepsy goes it alone’.

Starting out with work

My first job was at my local McDonalds in Elsternwick, Melbourne working as a McCafe Barista. I enjoyed this job – they trained me well, I had a great circle of friends, and I could walk to work. However, it was also a demanding and often stressful job. I soon learned the pros and cons of working for a large and well-known brand. I’m grateful for my time at McDonalds because I soon learned the value and importance of working hard at your job, no matter where it is.

After finishing high school, I completed a Bachelor of Arts at Monash University. Initially, my major was in Journalism, but I soon switched to Literary Studies. I completed my third year of study abroad at Exeter University and focused on English Literature. When I finished university, my first internship (and subsequent job) was running the social media accounts at a small boutique agency. I discovered that I could channel my love for storytelling and my skill at copywriting into a successful marketing career.

I then followed up this role by undertaking an Advanced Diploma of Business (Public Relations). I had an incredible time studying at RMIT, and had the opportunity to work alongside truly inspiring teachers and mentors. While studying, I was awarded the “Robert Masters & Associates Prize for PR”, for outstanding academic achievements throughout my studies, as voted by a panel of industry judges.

In 2013, I worked at a small agency in St Kilda and managed the social media accounts for their clientele, including makeup artists, photographers, and production stylists. This was in the early days of Instagram, and it was an exciting time to be working in social media marketing – we were discovering best practices as we went along. My job was made easy by the incredible quality of work produced by clients whose editorial style was perfectly suited to Instagram and Pinterest.

I then worked as a Marketing Assistant at a large hospitality business with venues across Melbourne. I also freelanced as a Social Media Manager at Popsicle Designs, and worked for clients such Tyranny of Distance, Big Mouth, and Tonic and Grace. Although I enjoyed working in hospitality, I was excited to try out different fields and luckily landed a job as Account Coordinator at a large agency.

While in that role, I worked across a broad range of lifestyle clients & brands, including Mars Wrigley Australia, Audible, Inter-Continental Hotel Groups, Britax, and the City of Melbourne. It was a fast-paced and exhilarating place to work, and I learned a lot in my time there. Unfortunately, then the pandemic struck, and clients began pausing work. This led to redundancies, and I left the agency in April 2020.

Although losing my job wasn’t in my plan, it turned out to be a blessing in disguise –  I felt creatively stifled working at a large corporation. The pandemic gave me time to reflect on what I truly wanted to do with my life, and that’s when I realised I wanted to work in the not-for-profit space.

Working at Epilepsy Foundation of Australia

Our services include information and resources, support services for people with epilepsy and their families, National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) support, education and training, and peer support.

The Epilepsy Foundation also works with researchers and medical specialists to ensure that the support we provide is current, grounded in evidence, and impactful. The Epilepsy Foundation’s Australian Epilepsy Research Fund exists to cure epilepsy by funding important research projects.

Even though epilepsy is one of the most common brain disorders across the world, there is still a lot of misunderstanding about what epilepsy is and what it is like to live with. At the Epilepsy Foundation, we believe that understanding is the key to promoting better quality of life for people living with epilepsy – through reducing stigma and discrimination, providing better support for those with epilepsy and their families, and promoting research into reducing unnecessary deaths due to epilepsy and one day finding a cure.

The Epilepsy Foundation develops policies regarding epilepsy in schools, engages in advocacy and provides funding for academic and clinical research. The organisation forms part of Epilepsy Australia, a coalition of national and local epilepsy charities across Australia.

Our mission is to reduce the impact of epilepsy on people’s lives. Our Vision is to ensure that people with epilepsy have equitable access to education and employment, feel safe and connected in their community and no longer die from their epilepsy.

My favourite part of my job is how it changes constantly, and my work is never the same week to week. There is always a new platform to learn, new strategies to test and new content to create.

I’ll usually start the day by logging into Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram and responding to messages, comments, and queries. I also keep an eye out for brand mentions through social listening tools like Meltwater and see if anything needs to be dealt with immediately. We are lucky to have an incredibly positive community, so reading their uplifting messages is a great way to start my day.

I’ll then move onto emails and admin tasks before spending a few hours creating content. This is easily the best part of my job. I research a topic, write the copy and create custom graphics for each post.  I work with my colleagues to ensure that all information is up-to-date and represents the latest epilepsy research. I then send it out for review and will usually make a few edits before scheduling. Ideally, I create content a month in advance, but this isn’t always possible.

On a monthly basis, I organise reports and ensure we are meeting marketing KPIs. I think it’s important to constantly review social media campaigns to ensure they are working and then optimising as needed.

When I first came on as Social Media Coordinator, I conducted a thorough audit of the Epilepsy Foundation’s marketing channels. My goal was to determine exactly what was missing from the current social media strategy. After careful review, I discovered that the community wanted to hear more stories of other people living with epilepsy. I then created a user-generated content strategy that relied on submissions from followers and resulted in a thriving and trusting community.

Every day, we receive messages from people all across Australia who want to share their epilepsy journey. It is wonderful to know that my work is helping people feel more comfortable talking about their epilepsy. Despite how common epilepsy is in Australia, people living with epilepsy face discrimination and significant stigma. These stories help show the world what it’s like to live with seizure-disorders and raises awareness and understanding of epilepsy.

Working for a better world

When I first realised I wanted to work in the not-for-profit space, I reached out to people who worked at organisations I admired. Their advice was to check out EthicalJobs.com.au and see what roles were available. I signed up for the weekly newsletter, which showcases current job vacancies and shares tips for landing a role at charities. I enjoyed reading the Career Advice blog, which guided me as I transitioned from corporate to ethical work.

I especially enjoyed reading other people’s career journeys. In each installment, people talked about absolutely LOVING their job and how rewarding they found their work. It was how I wanted to feel about work, and motivated me to keep applying for roles.

What first attracted me to this role with the Epilepsy Foundation was that the job specified that I would be playing “an integral role in the Fundraising and Marketing team to progress our goals”. In previous roles, it was hard not to feel like another cog in the machine. I felt like I could make a difference in this role and that my thoughts and ideas would be valued.

I also enjoyed that the Epilepsy Foundation included a short video, which explained the structure of the organisation using clear and simple animation. It showcased that this was a workplace that valued creativity and new ideas, and I was excited to work for such an organisation.

For me, success is leaving the world a better place than I found it. I don’t want to simply work for arbitrary personal goals, and I don’t think accumulating wealth is the secret to happiness. Instead, I want to ensure my work has a positive and tangible impact.

I am lucky to see firsthand the impact of my job – every day, I get messages from people living with epilepsy saying that they loved our work. Often, they want to thank me personally for creating content they can share with family and friends. Last year, I got a message from one of our followers: “My sister has epilepsy, and it gets her down, but she feels better seeing your page and hearing other people’s stories. It shows her she’s not alone. I can’t thank you enough for creating such a wonderful platform of inclusivity and education.”

I try to view setbacks and mistakes as learning opportunities. I was initially devastated to have lost my role during the COVID-19 pandemic, but it turned out to be a golden opportunity to pursue a career in a field I love.

I recommend reaching out to people who you admire and asking them for advice. People are often happy to help out, and many times I’ve landed a role because I made a connection with someone in the organisation. Networking can seem scary, but it’s a great opportunity to meet new people and get inspired.

 

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