Students: stop dreaming of a job in journalism – and get to work | Education
Exclusive news stories, backstage passes, meeting important people and the thrill of the deadline: the life of a journalist seems full of excitement. But most of us think it’s an unrealistic fantasy job, one we could never aspire to.
In fact, whether you’re at school or university, there are many opportunities to get involved in media – without even having to send off a CV.
An obvious first step is getting involved with your student newspaper or magazine. I began writing for my student publication within the first few weeks of starting university. Now I’m in my final year and its editor-in-chief.
It has given me valuable experience, not only in writing, editing and designing, but also in making deals with advertisers and negotiating timings with printers.
If your university’s student magazine isn’t for you, or you want to do something different, consider starting your own. It’s a challenge, but it will look impressive on your CV and is a great way to learn.
Rachel Mundy, a Cambridge University graduate and the co-founder of the popular science student magazine, Bluesci, says: “I wanted to create a magazine that promoted the understanding and awareness of science in an engaging format, while providing a breeding ground for the next generation of science writers.”
Mundy has gone on to write for prominent publications, including the New Scientist and the BBC’s Focus magazine.
In the digital age, it’s also worthwhile to work on a website – perhaps that of your university publication, or a university society. You’ll gain knowledge of SEO, and publishing platforms such as WordPress – essential for the budding digital journalist.
But of course journalism doesn’t end with the written word. Alex Kell, a student at University College London (UCL) and president of Rare FM, UCL’s student radio platform, says: “I became involved with student radio after applying to be a radio host.
“I now receive plenty of opportunities to get involved with the media. These have included invitations to review a live X Factor show as a VIP and be an extra in a London-based film.”
There are valuable skills to be gained behind the camera, too. Video expertise is increasingly in demand among media employers, with video content being three times more likely to be shared on social media than text alone. If a company knows you’re competent with a camera and can tell a story visually, you’ll be leagues ahead of those who’ve never heard of FinalCut Pro.
Jonathan Baker, a former head of the BBC’s College of Journalism, says media companies put a high value on a candidate’s ability to demonstrate their commitment to a career in journalism.
Qualities such as energy, enthusiasm, flair, imagination, analytical skills, intellectual curiosity and “a reluctance to accept things at face value”, are also crucial, says Baker.
Showcasing your student journalism credentials on your CV will increase your chances of being employed by a media company. So choose your platform and then throw your heart and soul into finding strong stories and telling them in a fresh and original way .