The long winded (yet compressed) story of how I go to reviewing cars and tech. Although, I’m aware my story is only REALLY starting.
Let me preface this by stating: growing up I had it tough. The first 20 years of my life was awful. I was battling depression and anxiety. For anyone that’s had mental illness, neither are good and in combination can be crippling.
On top of that, in my life I was surrounded by toxic people. When you’re a kid, it’s not as easy as choosing to not surround yourself with these people. Especially if you’re related to them.
So I hated my life at home, and then I would go to school and be tormented by bullies because I was ‘weird’ & ‘different’- all round- life sucked. (Imagine growing up a female, Asian-background (in Country towns), academic, emotional, loves cars & love tech- a target was well and truly secured on my back.)
Of course, not every moment in my life was awful. I was lucky to have a few people in my life that supported me and cared for me, and this was enough to get me by. I knew that when I got to a certain age, I could make decisions and do what I want, because that’s the beauty of finishing school and becoming an adult.
Fast forward to my first year of University. I had a gap year, and in that gap year I worked at a supermarket. I needed money desperately and didn’t have anyone I could lean on for financial aid. So having a gap year meant I could save a bunch of money, buy a car and FINALLY feel freedom.
(This ties in with the love of cars. I spent my time at high school daydreaming of the moment I could get my licence and ‘drive away’. Cars offer freedom that is so underappreciated. Having a licence and car meant that I could escape the crapness in life. Take a breather. All I really wanted was a breather.)
My first semester at Uni was quite turbulent, breaking up with my boyfriend of 5 years, and moving out with a stranger (was a gamble, but she turned out to be the most amazing human being). However, for the first time in a while, I felt very alone and it was a very strange year for me. Figuring out what I want to do with my life and feeling quite helpless about it all.
I bombed my first Semester, and decided I needed to get my head right before trying to do Uni. I took the rest of the year off.
The next year quickly came around. I finally felt I was figuring my life out, I started dating more responsibly, and had found myself a partner who helped to encourage me and be that support that I needed. It was a mutual support, we both powered each other on to be better people and it was exactly what I needed.
For the first time in a long while, I was properly happy.
I headed back to Uni and that year everything was pretty smooth sailing. A few hiccups and of course the ongoing family struggles but mostly manageable on my end. Living in the city helped. (Out of mind, out of sight.)
Over the Summer prior to the next year (which would then be my second academic year), I decided to volunteer at the University as I heard that volunteering is quite good on your resume and I wanted to do something other than work at a supermarket while I was at Uni. My plan was that I’d have a part-time job that could compliment my studies and help me get a job when I graduate.
What happened over this summer is important because it made me realise that Science probably wasn’t the career path of choice. (I had it drilled into me that it was either medicine or law that I should study- but soon realised I didn’t want this after so long of believing it.)
During my volunteering, I met some people that worked for an agency representing Google. I thought wow, that would be an awesome job. Representing a tech company- why didn’t I think of that?!
I ended up chatting to them, and asking a bunch of questions. This really opened my mind to what I should or could be doing.
6 months later, I applied for a job and before I knew it I was working in retail stores representing the Google brand. I couldn’t believe it. I was in awe.
Getting this job was pivotal in my development, it opened my eyes to opportunities I could only dream of. One of my colleagues had even done an internship with Google, and I knew, tech was where I truly belonged and needed to be (see ABOUT ME for more on my tech background).
Fast forward 6 months, and I began applying for Summer internships. Given my time deferring from Uni, a lot of my friends were nearing the end of their degrees, and I watched on as they struggled to get Internships and Graduate jobs.
Internally, I was freaking out- ‘I’m doing a Science degree, who the heck would want to hire me?!’
I applied for a Marketing Intern role at Google. I had also always loved advertising, and it was just a strange thing to have so many realisations.
I got an interview- which I was stoked about- but unfortunately, I didn’t get the job. For a day, I cried and was devastated. I really wanted this job. Google staffers I had spoken to had told me that it’s hard, and some of them sitting several interviews (over several applications) before they landed the job.
I’m the kind of person that doesn’t let rejection discourage me. I use this rejection to look at things. I had decided, I needed to do more. If I couldn’t get an internship, I wasn’t going to sit around waiting, I needed to do something about it. (This stems from acting rather than reacting. Making the change happen.)
How can I make myself more appealing to employers? How can I show them I tried, or that I got work experience without actually getting a job? Of course, I was still working in my brand ambassador role- at this stage I was the State Manager of Victorian Google ambassadors. In my mind, I felt this wasn’t enough. I needed to be doing more.
This is where my website was born. I thought I could do something around tech & fashion since I love consumer devices and I noticed lots of tech companies like to sponsor fashion events. On the side of this, I had my Instagram account going. I knew social media, still being quite new, was something I could use and definitely an appealing point for my resume. It was my personal account and I was using it to help get people to look at my website.
Of course, my IG was a bit looser because it was my personal account so it included other things I love such as cars and food. In fact, the first photo I ever posted on IG was my old Audi A3.
I posted a lot of car stuff, but never really considered doing much about it. I just shared it because I loved it and that was that.
Over the next year I tried to get any opportunity I could get. I did a lot of food content and worked with a lot of brands around food. Of course, I did all of this for free. It took a while before I started seeing any money (closer to two years).
Of course, money was never an aim of mine because experience is far valuable to me than $$s especially if it can help me get a job.
Fast forward 8 months, and I was able to get a job as a Digital Coordinator for Melbourne Fashion Festival looking after the Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival.
I finally landed an internship through my hard work on social media and on my website.
After this, I got offered a part-time role with an agency- this was quite a sour part of my history because what happened at this agency was ugly and caused a lot of my mental health issues to get out of control, which affected my relationships and my studies. Again, I bombed another semester, and broke off a long-term relationship which was already in struggle-street due to being long distance for a year and a half.
(I stayed in the job for longer than I should have, but it was a good learning experience. At least that’s how I look at the shitty things.)
This experience turned me off agencies for a while.
In this period, I noticed on social media that a lot of fashion bloggers were being paid to drive nice cars and pose with them. To me, I felt like this is ridiculous. These people don’t even talk about the car, or the features. It’s all completely superficial. It’s one of the things I dislike most about social media. In my opinion, I felt I could do it better because I care about cars and the features and how they improve our lives.
It then became a mission of mine to show what I could do would be better and worth the dollars spent. I see far too many brands invest in massive accounts to do this sort of work, and yet the influencers barely acknowledge the questions people ask about the cars. That’s a waste of money spent in my eyes. For me social media should be two-ways, we should be creating communities not ostracizing people because they aren’t a part of our ‘main group’ or ‘clique’. Sometimes social media feels like high school all over again. Going to events, people wouldn’t give me the time of day, but then when they realised which account was mine their tunes quickly changed. (The unseen, ugly side of social media influencers in the flesh.)
As I had with a lot of my work, I started reaching out to agencies that I knew managed car related events. A lot never responded to me, but the few that did helped me step into the world of cars.
It took 6 months until I finally got into a car related event, and I was so very excited. 6 months does seem like a short amount of time, but this was spent researching agencies, brands, and constantly reaching out to people and being rejected or ignored. Especially when you consider that I had been posting and writing about cars for almost a year and half!
The first event I went to, I felt like finally this was my in. I was one of 3 Influencers invited, and the other two had already worked with the brand before. Already I was feeling like, this is a sure thing.
I even spoke to the brand managers and they said they were so keen to work with me and were so happy when they came across me. Again, me thinking it was a sure thing.
I went home so excited, thinking of the possibilities (being daydreamer, things like this exacerbate it).
Within the next week, I had published an article on the event and was in touch with the brand to see what they wanted to do together. I was beaming with excitement.
Then I received a response along the lines of ‘Thanks for the articles. We don’t have anything now, we will be in touch with an event in a few months.’
And that was it. I was so confused. I thought finally, I’d got in. Finally something. To then have that door swiftly shut in front of me. Of course, they were true to their word of more events, but that’s all it was. I was okay with that, but I had gotten my hopes up for the wrong reasons. And possibly, I was the one who got the wrong idea in the first place.
Again, seeing this as an opportunity, I felt that, ‘wait, why should I wait around for a brand to let me know if they want me to borrow a car? This might never happen.’
So rather than gambling on the what if, I took fate into my own hands. I started reaching out to my networks, seeing what opportunities lay ahead.
And that’s when things took a turn around. I got offered a review car from Tesla, and my heart basically exploded. For two months, I was on edge that they might turn around, they might change their mind.
Even though I was pumping out reviews and articles, this would be my very first proper review where I would get to borrow the car for longer than a day.
Dooms Day came, and I picked up the car and went on my journey. I couldn’t believe it. From then on, things kind of snowballed. I appreciated the Tesla opportunity so much, and decided I needed to roll with it.
Months later, I was in conversations with BMW Group & Jaguar Land Rover Group. Both were keen to see what I could do, but treated it as a trial.
I’ve had the opportunity to work with some awesome brands (e.g. Google, ASUS, Bentley, Porsche and more). I am truly grateful for it. I don’t think I would never not be. At the end of the day, I could wake up tomorrow and have no work. But I will continue to work hard and prove I’m someone worth listening to.
In all of this, I still work part-time representing Google, and I love it. I get to work with amazing people and talk about one of my passions: technology. On top of that, on my days off I get to travel and review cars I could only dream of.
For me, I’m right where I want to be. Enjoying my 20s and learning every day.
And that’s where I am at now. With all this ‘success’ there are daily struggles, that I don’t talk about and I’m not ready to talk about. Life hasn’t been easy, and I don’t think it will ever be, but I’m in pursuit of that ‘money can’t buy happiness ’ life, and by that, I just want to do what I love and if it means I can afford to put food on my table then that is great. I don’t need to be a millionaire by any stretch, I just don’t want to waste my life on things I don’t like (especially when you’ve already been forced to for 20 years). I mean, why should anyone waste time on the things they can change?
NB: This is the extremely compressed version of all the events that transpired.
TL;DR: Look for opportunities, put yourself out there. Rejection happens, but it’s your ACTIONS that change your FUTURE.
If you want something, go out there and find a way. There’s always a way… Unless you’re planning on being an Astronaut and don’t want to do a degree- I don’t think I can help you there.
At the very same time, I can’t give you all the answers but I can give you insight. Every day I use insights and learning to progress. Don’t underestimate its value.