Today’s Notable Young Professional is Global Montreal freelance journalist Aalia Adam, whose career allows her to share the inspirational stories of everyone from local Montrealers to Nelson Mandela…
Elevator Pitch: Describe your job in a nutshell.
In a nutshell I tell stories for a living, mostly on TV. I’m a freelance journalist, working at Global Montreal. I report on all kinds of different stories around the city and provide a medium for people’s voices to be heard.
Why did you start working at your company? What was the inspiration for this career route?
In my last year of high school, I travelled to Africa and created a documentary on AIDS/HIV for my personal project. My goal was to use facts and visuals to create awareness about an important issue in the world to the students at my school. That’s when I knew I wanted to pursue a career in media, but wasn’t sure where to start. When I started Cegep, I applied at all the news stations in Montreal and the only one who opened their doors to an eager 17-year-old was Global News. The team was kind enough to let me follow them around 2-3 times a week on my days off, taught me the ropes of being a journalist, and eventually hired me as a freelancer when I started university. Since then, I’ve never left and never been happier with people I consider my family, mentors and co-workers.
What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis? The most challenging part?
The best part of what I do is that I get to speak to different people all the time. Every day I’m assigned a different story and I get to meet new, exciting, interesting and inspiring Montrealers and tell their stories.
The most challenging part is trying to separate yourself from certain emotional stories and staying professional. For me the hardest stories are ones where I speak to families who’ve lost a loved one in a tragic accident, or speaking to a community who’ve gone through a tremendous loss; for example, Lac-Megantic. While it’s really tough to stay composed during those kinds of interviews, they are the stories that touch people’s hearts the most and make many, including myself, appreciative for everything and everyone I have in my life.
What is one sign that you’ve seen over the years to suggest that your work/life balance is off?
Being in media, you always have to be “on.” One thing to suggest that my work/life balance is off would be that I have a hard time turning myself “off” when I’m no longer working. It’s tough because I feel like I’m expected to be on top of the latest stories at all times – even though it may not be true. Whenever I’m walking down the street and I hear either an ambulance or the fire brigade, my curiosity sparks and I have to find out what’s going on. I’m constantly checking Twitter and Facebook updates just to stay on top current events. So sometimes when I’m hanging out with my friends or my boyfriend and they get annoyed, this imbalance seems to come into light. That’s when I’m reminded that I need to disconnect and live in the moment.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
In five years I hope to see myself hosting my own show where I can interview different people with interesting stories. This city is filled with amazing personalities and in my opinion everyone has a story waiting to be shared that can inspire others.
What is one major challenge that you’ve had to overcome in your career? How did you overcome it?
One major challenge I’ve had to overcome as a journalist is the ability to walk up to people on the streets and ask the most random questions. In the news we call those “streeters,” where we ask the general public for their opinion on a certain subject. At first, I found it really difficult to stop people on the streets and have to deal with being ignored or given a dirty look. But the more I did it, the better I got. Now instead of approaching people with a “hey, do you have a minute?” (because apparently not many people do), I just blurt out the question. Some people just feel inclined to answer even if they’re still walking away while talking!
What does success look like to you? Does Money = Happiness?
To me success is having the ability to inspire the people around you. It doesn’t matter how much money you make but how many people in your community you can make smile and go, “huh… I didn’t know that.” Educating others, especially young people, on what’s happening around them is one of the most important things you can do. That way they can be aware of what’s going on and be motivated to make changes to the things that matter to them most.
What is the most memorable milestone in your career?
The most memorable milestone in my career was covering Nelson Mandela’s funeral this past December. I flew to South Africa the moment I heard that he had passed away. Just being there with the whole world to mourn the loss of such an influential person was absolutely surreal. I shot all my interviews on my iPhone, edited everything on my laptop and sent the stories to air in Montreal. That week I learned so many new skills and saw with my own eyes how influential one person could be to an entire nation.
Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
My advice to young professionals is something I live by every day: Always follow your instincts. If you’ve got a passion for something, do everything in your power to pursue it. Even if some people may think you’re too young, or too inexperienced, and it means getting doors slammed in your face – don’t quit. In the end you’ll be exactly where you were meant to be.
Where is your favourite place to wine/ dine in your city and why?
I honestly just go to wherever my brother, Le Mechant Mangeur, blogs about! But my favourite place to chill out with my friends is definitely the sheesha lounge Shahrazad on crescent. The ambiance is great, I love the music and it has an awesome lounge-y feel.
When you’re not working how do you love to spend your “Me” time?
I love watching movies, whatever the genre. My list keeps growing and every year I make it a point to watch all the Oscar-nominated films for best picture so I don’t miss out on anything!
Where is your favourite place to travel? Why?
The most amazing place I’ve ever been to is my native country, India. In particular, Mumbai is the probably the craziest city in the world. The people, the food, the fashion, sights, sounds and of course the smells make you forget where you are; it’s just out of this world.
If you had to choose a theme song, what would it be?
All you need is love – The Beatles
If you weren’t doing what you’re doing, what would you be doing?
I’d be trying really hard to do what I’m doing. And probably be a voice actor – I love doing impressions!
Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is that important to you?
I don’t support one in particular but I do give donations to my local mosque and when I visit my family in Africa I bring bags of clothes and send donations to families in need.
What to you is notable?
Someone who is passionate about what they believe in and does what they love most in the world.
BlackBerry, iPhone, Android, or Other?
iPhone all the way!
#LYNL | (Live Your Notable Life)