Suffering the classic high school graduate uncertainty, Victoria Ngu approached her tertiary education by applying for the uni course that would give her the most breadth in job choices later down the track: a Bachelor of Business. Here is a case for hedging your bets! She ended up majoring in marketing and law, and graduated knowing two things for sure: 1) she had zero interest in finance, 2) the diversity of communications and creative campaigns was totally her jam!
While she performed the classic study/retail work juggle during her undergraduate years, Victoria also completed a slew of internships on the side. It’s this variety of experiences that led her first to The Sydney Opera House and then to Bangarra Dance Theatre as her first jobs out of uni. This string of incredible opportunities eventually wound up at the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney, where she has held the role of digital marketing and media coordinator since 2017.
Victoria’s position is hugely multifaceted, and spans the broad range of fields that fall under the Gardens’ umbrella. From horticulture to education to venue management to events, she is in constant liaison with various different stakeholders at all times. Not to mention keeping the company’s public-facing image pristine!
The most important verb in the get-your-dream-job lexicon is…
Apply! It sounds absurd, but I almost didn’t apply for this job because I assumed I wouldn’t have a chance. My partner convinced me to just go for it and now, looking back, it seems ridiculous that I wouldn’t even try. If I had succumbed to my insecurities, I wouldn’t be where I am today!
I landed this job by…
Putting all my energy into my application. Once I ran out of reasons to not apply, I began to update my resume and write a cover letter. The application involved a series of written tasks for different digital channels and I carefully crafted responses I was happy with. I was genuinely surprised to get the call up for an interview and discovered I would also need to prepare a 10-minute presentation on top of the interview itself.
Work for me in 2020 has been…
Surreal. I’ve been working remotely since March and, while I do enjoy the improved focus that working from home allows, I do miss the Gardens themselves. Ordinarily I am based in the office at the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney, and work a few days from the Australian Botanic Garden in Mount Annan and the Blue Mountains Botanic Garden in Mount Tomah every few weeks, so working from home full-time has been a huge adjustment.
The work itself also pivoted from selling tickets to public programs and events, to focusing on promoting our at-home gardening series, being a source for inspiring content for our global audience, and a reliable outlet for gorgeous imagery. It’s been quite a mentality shift, which required flexibility and patience to navigate this new and uncertain world.
A typical day for me involves…
Moderating the Gardens’ social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and LinkedIn) is a big part of the job, especially now when we have engagement from all over the world. The three Gardens are public green spaces with millions of visitors every year, so we receive feedback, general questions and a myriad of plant-related questions that our Horticulture team help to answer.
A big part of my day is writing and editing blogs, web copy and social media captions that I schedule for the week ahead. We have so many content producers in Education, Horticulture and Science – it’s a huge number of images, videos and news to translate into engaging digital content. I also produce and analyse reports on the performance of digital channels to inform future campaigns.
The most rewarding part of my job is…
Learning about plants. It’s no exaggeration to say that I’ve learned something new about plants, horticulture or science every day I’ve been in this role. I love learning plant names and traditional uses of plants by the Cadigal people, the traditional owners of the land of the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney. Some people might not be aware that our Gardens comprise Australia’s oldest living scientific institution, and there is so much to learn about the important work often done behind the scenes by our scientists.
I also love how diverse my role can be. In 2019, I put together the Garden’s first-ever Lunar New Year program to celebrate the year of the Pig. It was fulfilling for me to try my hand at programming and to work on the events side, as well as the marketing and communications side of a campaign, and a special way for me to connect to my Chinese heritage.
On the other hand, the most challenging aspect is…
Competing priorities. Marketing and communications support many teams in our organisation including science, education, horticulture, major events, venue services and more, and between the three Gardens, there are numerous events, projects, and stakeholders to support. My team is always busy and multi-tasking.
Something I thrive off at work is…
Spending time in nature. I go for a walk every day, aiming to explore different pockets of the Garden throughout the week. One spot I return to daily is the Succulent Garden.
A piece of advice/a lesson I’ve found useful is…
Where possible, eat lunch outside. Too often I find myself eating lunch at my desk on busy days. I find that by taking a break from my laptop and going outside, even if it’s a short break, I will have a more productive afternoon.
This has got to be one of the most picturesque offices in the world! Photo – Alisha Gore for The Design Files.
28-year-old Victoria Ngu, Digital Marketing and Media Coordinator at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney. Photo – Alisha Gore for The Design Files.
The Gardens span scientific, educational and cultural fields as well as the obvious – horticultural! Photo – Alisha Gore for The Design Files.
The Sydney skyline can be seen peeping above the gardens, which were established in 1816. Photo – Alisha Gore for The Design Files.
Victoria manages a team of content producers across the Gardens’ team, but she always makes a point to eat lunch outside! Photo – Alisha Gore for The Design Files.
The succulents garden is her location of choice for taking her lunch break. Photo – Alisha Gore for The Design Files.
Imagine having this kind of botanical energy at work every day? Photo – Alisha Gore for The Design Files.
‘I love learning plant names and traditional uses of plants by the Cadigal people, the traditional owners of the land of the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney,’ says Victoria. Photo – Alisha Gore for The Design Files.
Never not content creating! Photo – Alisha Gore for The Design Files.
‘Some people might not be aware that our Gardens comprise Australia’s oldest living scientific institution, and there is so much to learn about the important work often done behind the scenes by our scientists,’ says Victoria. Photo – Alisha Gore for The Design Files.
‘I love how diverse my role can be. In 2019, I put together the Garden’s first-ever Lunar New Year program to celebrate the year of the Pig.’ Photo – Alisha Gore for The Design Files.