29 May 2016

Studying a Journalism and Media Degree



When I was applying to university and deciding that I wanted to study a Journalism and Media degree, I had very minimal knowledge as to what jobs you can actually go in to. I remember I found one or two articles that helped me and gave me a broad idea of the possible graduate job opportunities that was available to me once I graduated. 

I study at De Montfort University, Leicester, and I have now completed my second year. I am currently preparing for my final year dissertation project and have an idea of what I want to go into after graduating, as a career. Especially since I know what options are available for me as a Journalism and Media graduate.

Here is a bit of my advice and guidance that I have gathered so far from my studies and experiences towards what jobs are out there.

Research into it.
So according to my research, by doing a joint honours degree it was supposedly quite difficult to become a journalist as teeline shorthand isn't a skill you would've learnt on the course. However, after speaking to a few of my course tutors I know it is possible but it isn't going to be easy. Also, it is possible to take a separate course in teeline shorthand but it is most credible if it is accredited by the NCTJ. The qualification is what employers look for as a safety net for legal issues, if any were to arise from any articles or news stories you may write throughout your career as a journalist.

There are numerous jobs you can go into with journalism and media skills, you just have to find one that you are interested in and tailor the course modules around this.
There is an article by The Guardian with examples of media jobs, so you can have a little read of that if you are interested in specific stats and deciding whether a media course is for you.

Look at university courses and compare - there are many differences between them. Go to open days and speak to the current students, it really helps. Different universities offer different types of modules and experiences so find one that interests you the most.


Course modules are important.
Like I mentioned earlier, tailor the course modules to your future career. I now know I want to going into the public relations sector and I chose to study a PR module in second year. I also know that a more extensive module of PR is available for me in the final and therefore I can do a dissertation in the area. This would show future employers I am determined and keen - therefore more employable to a PR firm.

Obviously you should pick modules that truly interest you but you should also think about the possible skills you could take away with you from studying that module. I studied a Media Discourse module this year and honestly, I hated it. However, it taught me a different side to media and showed me how to analyse newspapers in a unique way. However, for my final year I really chose the modules that would be of most benefit to me and my dissertation.


First year counts (technically).
I know that in most courses your first year grades do not go towards your final degree grade but that doesn't mean you shouldn't try. I didn't know that I could take a placement year out to gain industry experience until I started second year. In order to gain a good placement at a top agency or company, you need to do well in your first year. Life is competitive and your passion may not always be important. I wish I had been told about how important the first year is in order to secure a really good placement at the start of my degree.


Get work experience.
After I knew I wanted to go into PR, I started researching PR firms near me to apply for work experience at. I luckily found an agency who were willing to have me for two weeks in the summer, which was one of the most rewarding experiences I have had. Additionally, I have had the chance to apply for several placement opportunities via my university - so make sure to ask tutors and placement teams for guidance!

Make sure when you contact your work experience, you highlight what you want from them (e.g.: hands on experience, job shadow, paid placement). This will ensure you maximise your opportunity. 
Whenever you carry out a work experience, make sure to get copies of the work you did so you can add it to a portfolio. For media and journalism employers tend to look at what you can bring to the table and physical evidence will do exactly that.

Also, ask the people working around you on your work experience how they got into their careers and their advice. This may give you some key tips and info on how to get a job after you graduate. If you really enjoy your work experience you should try and show interest by keeping in touch with them. This way they can consider you as an applicant for a job opening they may have going in the future.


Listen to your tutors.
My university lecturers and tutors have had many previous jobs before getting into teaching their field. Many of them must have had years of experience in a job that you want to go in to. Make sure you talk to them and ask them about their past jobs (in a non-nosey way, of course!).

My PR lecturer gave me a lot of good advice as well as recommending me to certain companies. I managed to get an opportunity with a PR freelancer through this. It is a good way to show you are interested, passionate and gets you links within the industry. 


I hope this was helpful or interesting for those who are looking to study a Journalism and Media degree. If you have any questions feel free to leave me a comment and I can get back to you! 


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