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So, you want to do what I do?

I love my job. I’m not ashamed or afraid to admit that I love waking up for work every day. Why? Because I worked damn hard to get here, and I’m passionate about what I do. Despite what many might think, I didn’t just fall into this crazy world of car testing, and I don’t spend my days doing doughnuts in the parking lot.

As my colleague, Matt St-Pierre, pointed out in his how-I-got-here blog it really is a journey. Like him, my travels to automotive journalist were rooted in a deep fascination of both automobiles and the written word. To combine the two in a profession that pays my bills… well, the thought still sends me reeling with delight on most days.

So, where did it all begin? Well, rumours of my silver-spoon upbringing are sweet (and I won’t deny all of them), but essentially I grew up in the bed of a Ford pickup, bumping along the back roads in British Columbia or riding shotgun in my mum’s white-walled Chevette. Barbies meant very little, but jumping Hot Wheels off ramps and collecting miniature car models was my hobby.

As BC-Miranda grew into east-coast-Miranda and schooling was required, I chose the literature route, going through CEGEP and then on to University. Here, a decision had to be made: English Lit or Journalism? English Lit inevitably meant a career teaching English (like my mother, father, grandmother, grandfather… you get the idea). Journalism is an extremely difficult and coveted program to get into. I decided to play my hand at applying, and won.

The first lesson I learned in Journalism school was this: Write what you know. That motto has stuck with me since I first step foot in my first journalism class in 2002, and it’s something I think on daily. I know cars, and that’s why I write about them.

Upon graduation in 2005, BA in Journalism (with a focus on print journalism) in hand, I did what every new journalist does; sold my soul for free work to build a portfolio. It took me nearly six years to get into automotive journalism full-time.

I’ve done a lot of odd jobs over the years. However, I always, always, wrote about cars -- even if it was at 2 a.m. on a Tuesday night after a long, hard day at the office editing articles on the latest fitness trends for men while I silently wrote my latest car review in my head in preparation for the night’s work ahead.

So, how do you do what I do? Be dedicated. Know what you want, and if you’re a woman, don’t listen to the BS. Be confident in your knowledge, in your ability, and in your craft. At the risk of sounding like a whiny chick; I work in a man’s world.

I’ve known this from the first time I attended a local auto show and had every old boy in the “club” stare at me like I was a parasite or worse, one of the models who should be standing next to the cars. They’re used to me by now, nearly 9 years later, but it took time.

It took years to “prove” myself, which is why I said I worked damn hard to get here. It wasn’t always pleasant or fun, but it had to be done. I knew where I wanted to be, and I’m here now. You can be too if you’re willing to put in the hours, the work, and the passion.

Cars are built on passion, on insight, on creativity. They are born of elusive ideas and crazy schemes (consider the latest concept car you’ve seen and tell me I’m wrong), and careers in the automotive world are built on those same principles.

You want to do what I do? Then do it. But don’t complain that it’s taking too long or it’s too hard or that you don’t want to work for free to get your name out there.

Photo: Sébastien D'Amour