Claire Chaffey graduated from UNE in 2006 with a Bachelor of Arts/Laws with Honours. She has since worked as a graduate lawyer, a journalist, a travel writer, and founder and publisher of French Living Magazine. Today, Claire is Managing Editor and Head of Communications for the NSW Law Society Journal, and has remained connected to the Sydney UNE Alumni Chapter.
Unsure of her dream career, Claire selected her UNE degree based on her strengths, English and History, and her desire to learn a new language. “I thought several times about dropping out of law and just pursuing languages – especially during my exchange to Angers in France, where I very much adopted a bohemian lifestyle – but my father convinced me to stick it out. I’m so glad I did.”
Claire lived on campus for one year, at St Albert’s College, and remained an affiliate for the next four. She describes the college lifestyle warmly – the dress-ups and ‘general debauchery’, the sports, the study, and the valuable support from the senior students. Claire spent her free time playing netball for both Albie’s and the UNE team. She worked part-time at Sport UNE, carrying on the ‘Chaffey Dynasty’, as both her brother and sister also worked at the gym. In her final year of study, Claire moved to Strasbourg, France, to be an Assistante de Langue. “Not only did I meet life-long friends from all over the world, but I challenged myself in ways that made me grow immensely as a person. Becoming fluent in French is still one of my proudest achievements.”
Into The Workforce
Upon her return to Australia, Claire spent two years as a graduate lawyer in a corporate firm. She soon realised her passions were elsewhere and completed a Grad Certificate in Journalism. This led to a “fascinating, terrifying and intoxicating” three-month stint as a journalist in Ghana. In 2012, Claire took a risk and founded French Living Magazine. “It was a tough slog. I was publisher, editor, writer, ad sales manager, business development manager and admin assistant.” It was this decision which led to the Law Society of NSW. Claire was head-hunted to relaunch the Law Society Journal, a job which soon developed into a senior role as Head of Communications.
Uni was a constant rollercoaster of self-doubt and trying to make the “right” decisions. I have since realised that if you just go with the flow and do what you enjoy doing – or whatever challenges you in a positive way – you will end up on the right path. Country people are resilient, imaginative, and adventurous, and they don’t get caught up in pomp and false pride. It’s a myth that only people from city universities get the best jobs. I consider myself very lucky, but I also recognise that being bold and taking risks results in rewards.
Today, Claire is immensely proud of her time at UNE and thankful to be in the position to consider her goals and priorities for the future. “At the end of the day, there are a thousand different pathways we could take in life. It’s a matter of working out what is important. I want time to socialise, exercise, travel and spend time with my beautiful girlfriend. I have no limitations on where I could go.”
Author: Zoe Sutherland
UNE Office of Advancement
Ph: 02 6773 2870