Mastering communications with a career change

11 October 2021

Graduate Victoria Ong has carved a new career as a journalist, host, and producer based in Malaysia

From Singapore to Sydney, Victoria Ong’s Master of Media Practice has taken her from interviewing Ed Sheeran to reporting from the amazing parts in Asia.

Victoria Ong

Pictured: Victoria Ong.

If you’re looking for a career of challenges and cherished moments, look no further than Victoria Ong.

The talented media professional has brushed shoulders with the likes of Ed Sheeran, actor Adrian Grenier, Pixar President Jim Morris, award-winning creator of We Bare Bears Daniel Chong, and Singapore’s first female F-15 pilot, Nah Jinping.

As a former international student enabled by a full scholarship with the University of Sydney to pursue a Master of Media Practice, she has carved out a career in broadcast media that has taken her from Sydney to Singapore and now Malaysia.

First impressions made to last

For Victoria, the decision to apply to the University of Sydney’s renowned media program was easy.

“For me, it was the ‘triple threat’ of a reputable university, located in a vibrant city, with a strong media scene,” she says. “And of course, the beautiful campus was a big draw!”

Thinking back to her first day, Victoria remembers being amazed. “My first day on campus was… awe-inspiring,” she reminisces. “I remember that ‘wow’ feeling as I walked around the sandstone grounds of Australia’s oldest university, and attended the postgraduate welcome ceremony in the majestic Great Hall.”

Victoria Ong at University of Sydney graduation ceremony

Image: Victoria Ong at her graduation ceremony.

Victoria Ong moderating a conference against a green screen.

Pictured: Victoria Ong moderating a regional conference remotely.

Career change for good

The former corporate professional was at a crossroads in her professional life, looking for a way to set her voice apart from the crowd. Victoria gave that voice a chance, applied for a scholarship at the University and was successfully granted the opportunity to carve out a new, unique path.

“I was absolutely stunned and elated!” she remembers on receiving news of being accepted into the degree. “The scholarship came at a time when I was considering a mid-career switch from the corporate world into broadcasting. I was really hoping for a chance to study journalism professionally, so I could develop strong fundamentals to be a credible voice.”

The impact of being a scholarship recipient not only enabled me to pursue this dream without carrying a financial burden, but also gave me a confidence boost that I was on the right track for the next step in my career.
Victoria Ong

Reminiscing about her time at the University, Victoria unexpectedly highlights joining the bushwalking club.

“My first ever hike was a 22km trail at the Royal National Park… on a Saturday morning at 6am after submitting three assignments,” she laughs. “I had NO IDEA what I was getting myself into! Aside from the bruises and scratches from falling during the hike, I thoroughly enjoyed getting to soak up the great Sydney outdoors.”

Victoria Ong conducting news vox pops in Sydney

Pictured: Victoria Ong conducting news vox pops at Pitt Street Mall, Sydney.

A practical education

As an international student pursuing an arts degree, Victoria discovered how important it was to build practical skills alongside the theory – and fast!

“I remember that we were challenged to find our own professional internship placements within a matter of weeks!” she says. “That gave me a taste of what it would take to communicate my value to media companies, and survive in the fast-paced world of journalism.”

I think the Master of Media Practice provided a great balance between critical thinking and practical industry experience.
Victoria Ong

“Being an international postgraduate student with no local connections made this an even bigger challenge,” she continues. “But I ended up exceeding my own expectations and landed placements at Nine News, SBS Dateline, as well as Eastside 89.7FM. The exposure I gained at these media outlets reaffirmed my decision to go into broadcasting.”

Good stories told well

Victoria is driven by the simple pursuit of good stories and using her talents to showcase the good. She jumped straight into broadcasting after graduation as a TV journalist and producer with Channel NewsAsia (CNA) in Singapore.

The first interview I produced was with Ed Sheeran. Talk about learning quickly (not to get starstruck) on the job!
Victoria Ong
Victoria Ong interviewing Ed Sheeran

Pictured: Victoria Ong interviewed Ed Sheeran for Channel NewsAsia (CNA).

“I worked on the morning show that was broadcast around Asia, and loved being able to interview a diverse mix of personalities on a wide range of topics,” she says. “After CNA, I ventured out on my own and was blessed with the opportunity to executive produce and present a travel series called Destination: Design in late 2019. Filming for the series took me to Japan, Thailand and Taiwan – right before the pandemic hit in 2020! It’s a highlight that I’m especially grateful for, given how the world (and world of travel) has changed so drastically since then.”

Currently based in Kuala Lumpur, Victoria’s work has now gone completely virtual thanks to a changing media landscape amidst a worldwide pandemic.

“Whether it’s hosting a virtual talkshow from my home office, or moderating a regional conference from a green screen studio, work definitely feels more “borderless” than ever,” she says. “Most recently, I launched an online training workshop called TV Secrets for Virtual Impact, where I teach broadcasting techniques to help working professionals ace their Zoom presentations.”

With an ever-changing future in media and a career that pivots and goes from strength to strength, Victoria is a testament to the multitude of ways a postgraduate education can lead to a future of exciting opportunities.

Interested in pursuing a career in journalism? Learn more about the Master of Media Practice.

All images courtesy of Victoria Ong. Words by Margaret Tran.

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