“TopNotch was a reality check for me: life doesn’t always go as planned”

By Chirine Aboussaad

Full time student and part time reporter Charisa Chedie (25) is a busy young woman. She has just started her minor course in International Journalism after taking two semesters off to star as a reporter for AT5, Amsterdam’s local news channel.

The route she has taken to get to where she is now has known a few detours: she started her college career with a semester of Journalism, where she found out that she disliked the restrictions of that particular major leading her to transfer to Media, Information and Communications.

After spending a few years on her bachelor’s degree, specializing in professional writing and digital media strategies, she took a plunge into the unknown when she was offered a job as project manager at Dutch, hip-hop oriented record label TopNotch. This huge risk rewarded her with clarity and purpose; after a few months she came to the realization that her former dream job didn’t necessarily fit her as well as she thought it would: “TopNotch was a reality check for me: life doesn’t always go as planned”.

During that same period she watched channel representatives of AT5 on Dutch public access talk show Pauw discussing the channel’s 25th anniversary. The segment compelled her so much that she applied for an internship. After interning for five months she was asked to stay on permanently.

Her return to college stems partially from her perspective on future career options and the possibilities to advance her journalistic capabilities that the minor International Journalism offers her. It also allows her to stay on at AT5 where she is a rising star and has even done some screen testing to possibly cast the news in the future.

For now she loves reporting on local news: “One of my favorite stories was when I interviewed a woman who was petitioning for the local government to install speed bumps on a busy road to make the neighborhood safer. It made me realize the importance of local journalism and how it gives people who often aren’t listened to a voice”.