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Holly Kernot

Editor, VN Times Magazine, Veterinary Business Development, Peterborough

BA Journalism

What made you choose Middlesex University?:

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.

What course did you study and what attracted you to that course?:

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.

What aspects of your course did you enjoy the most?:

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”.

What is your fondest memory of Middlesex?:

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.

What one piece of advice would you give to a prospective student interested in studying at Middlesex?:

Go for it! No knowledge is ever wasted.

How did your course and time at Middlesex help you to get where you are professionally today?:

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.

How did you get your foot on the career ladder post university?:

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.

What has been your defining career break of highlight to date?:

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.

What are the top three career tips you would give to current students and recent graduates?:

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.

What skills have been most valuable in your career so far and how have you developed these?:

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.

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