Saturday, 30 July 2016

When I Grow Up: An Unexpected Tech Podcast.

A radio podcast that was never meant to be, came to be. 
When I was a little girl, I wanted to be a lot of things as a grown-up.
I once set my heights of being a shop cashier, because pressing all the colour, mix-matched buttons on the machinery over the counter looked exciting.
Watching TV a child made me ponder on what being a newscaster would be like. It was only in secondary school when speaking in front of my whole year group, and a friend commented I had a pleasant speaking voice, did I really stop and think whether there was any longevity in that claim.
I wanted to be a lawyer for 5 minutes (though Suits have tempted me since) and a medical doctor for 2 minutes (although I was asked to shadow for a doctor once after self-diagnosing myself when I was 12, long story).
Writing throughout my childhood, through my teenage years, and now as a young adult the idea of becoming a writer has never left - unlike all the other fleeting career choices I had. Engineering became a pleasant surprise, and as becoming an Electronic Engineering PhD student I have become a pending-inventor and writer - a published one too!

There came a time where I wanted to use my skills acquired from my degree to benefit a University society. Now, this happened through spontaneity. My good friend Dylan had been Head of Tech for our University Radio station for 6 months when I spotted him on campus. He suggested we catch-up after a meeting he was having with the society, and welcomed me to come to the meeting too. It turned out that after that meeting, not only would I catch up with Dylan (Acoustics Engineering undegrad) but also discussing technical duties to complete as a full-time tech member for our University meeting. Yes, I volunteered to join my University's Radio Station tech team on a whim. It was a chance for me to apply my technical interests to a different industry, make new friends, and grow my friendship with Dylan.
Fast forward a few months, Danny (Aerospace Engineering undergrad) is Head of Station Sound - making audio advertisement/radio jingles - and we have become friends working on radio tech projects together. He asks me if I would do voice-over work for some radio jingles. I was apprehensive, it was an odd request! Though, I complied and I got comfortable enough to continue making radio jingles until I ended up becoming Head of Station Sound - apparently I was the first female to become this technical role.

Dylan and I had a great year of being Head of Tech and Head of Station Sound, respectively, for our University Radio Station. Not only did we innovate, we led a team, grew their confidence in technical skills, let them work independent, and contribute to the growing legacy of our University Radio Station's impact on student life. Plus, we held some great tech dinners. ;)

As we were submitting to our annual Radio Station awards, we were aiming to make a 1min30s entry. Instead, we ended up having a great time at the microphones rounding up ours and our teams yearly tech achievements in the studio. Editing everything has taken a LONG time - since March - and we only just finished yesterday. It was a completely unplanned outcome that this podcast-style audio arose from our award entry (and we did end up making a 1min30s version) but both of us really cherish it! Here you can listen to the podcast yourself:

The podcast! What making radio jingles and technical radio work
actually is/sounds like! Also, banter galore.

In life, it is not so bad that you do not have everything figured out. If you keep to your craft, enjoy the process of learning, growing, and experiencing life, different opportunities will arise for you to make a choice. A choice on whether you will say yes or no with a required answer on which direction you would like to take in life. At University, you experience a lot of such crossroads - personal, academic, and extra-curricular. I gave a talk to a group of school students visiting my University about Engineering and life careers. I said something on the spot which really made me happy and think at great length since:

"Your degree does not define who all of you are, but your extra-curricular activities at University can help define what you can be."

What I meant by this is that at University, you are expected to attain your degree and perhaps that is what your parents, your guardian(s), and deep down that is all you want from spending years of your life studying. However, you can make University a time of self-reflection, self-development, and self-discovery. A time of your life where you can decide the story you want to write for the adulthood that comes after the University experience. I studied Electronic Engineering (with Artificial Intelligence) at University, now turned PhD student, and I still had other ambitions. I was not very outspoken when I first joined, but I had the mindset that this was my chance to take courage, be bold, and make my University experience a transforming one. I still took part in writing activities as I became a journalist for my University newspaper, I became friends with students who worked in media - music concert journalists, student television, student radio. I got into politics by getting involved in my Union Council and even took the chance to go to the Houses of Parliament. I dabbled in snowboarding, lacrosse, event organising... University was not just about Engineering for me, it was about making the most out of life that I wanted to develop on my own accord.

Becoming a radio presenter, technical radio co-manager, radio jingle presenter, and radio sub-team leader was not in my life's plan, but little choices at crossroads led me to the opportunity. You just have to follow the choice with confirmation of your intuition, take that direction, and life will unfold in a multitude in different and wonderful ways.

Dylan, our team, and I did not win Best Off-Air this year, we were runner's up. However, this did not detract from the fun, technical innovation, new friendships, and lessons we had throughout this year. It was great to have this podcast as a happy accident, and maybe this will be the start of more tech podcasts in the future!

Take Courage,


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