I wanted to remain close to home while studying for my degree. At the time, the journalism degree Middlesex University London offered could be undertaken at Harlow College, which was a 20-minute drive from my parents’ house. I liked the small class size and local area.
I wanted to undertake a degree that would enable me to be creative and develop a set of skills that would serve me well in the working world. In addition to learning the art of writing for newspapers and magazines, I also studied shorthand, media law, film making and design – skills I considered to be “transferable” and that, indeed, have served me well.
I enjoyed my dissertation as it enabled me to be creative and put all my skills into practice. I created a magazine to inspire students to embrace education and recorded an audio version for people with visual impairments. I also examined women’s magazines (from 1930 to the present day), arguing that women have always been under pressure from such publications – traditionally, to be good wives and mothers, and latterly, to “have it all”.
The good friends I made and the support I received from my lecturers. I was described in my end-of-year report as being “very tenacious”, which I considered a good attribute for an aspiring journalist to have! The day I discovered I had obtained a first still burns bright in my memory. Graduating was a dream come true and my parents were so proud. My graduation photo is still pride of place in their living room.
Go for it! No knowledge is ever wasted.
Put simply, I would not be where I am today without my degree. I honed my writing skills throughout the course. Furthermore, I enhanced my love and understanding of the power of the written word and the important role journalism plays in keeping society in check. I also learned everything I needed to know about journalistic law and ethics – skills I use to this day.
After graduating, I obtained a National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ) news writing certificate in July 2009 and walked into my first job as a newspaper journalist that September. I then worked as a press officer for a host of charities and organisations, before being appointed as a reporter for leading B2B publication Veterinary Times. Three years later, I was promoted to editor of its sister title, VN Times.
Transitioning from reporter to editor was a definite career break. Describing it as a “transition” makes me sound like Dr Who, doesn’t it? But then again, that’s how it feels. Taking over editorship of a loved title is a big responsibility, but one I am relishing. I am proud to use my writing skills to keep the veterinary nursing profession informed. Meeting and interviewing Professor Noel Fitzpatrick (AKA The Supervet) has also been a highlight.
Be tenacious. Write as much as you can. Pitch feature ideas to publications no matter how niche. You might not get paid, but seeing your name in print is always a buzz. This will also generate a portfolio to showcase at interviews.
Don’t get despondent. If you are a writer at heart, nothing can stop you and you will find a way of channelling your talent, be it via a blog, newsletter or publication. Keep focused; you will get there.
Being able to think on your feet and spot a news story – even when it is not obvious – is a key skill I learned at university, and one I have employed during my writing career. Keeping calm under pressure is key, as is knowing what your readers want. I love telling stories, and choosing the tone and style I know will excite and engage readers. I feel honoured to call myself a journalist – and it is all thanks to Middlesex University London.