On Friday 4 March I attended Channel 4’s Unreported World Student Media Event, in association with NUS and Amnesty International. It provided an invaluable insight into both media and NGO sectors respectively. I intend to bestow all of the excellent advice I received upon any brilliant, beautiful, budding journalists out there.
But first off, a little side note from this author. I would argue that extracurricular activities such as attending events like Unreported World Student Media are paramount to your personal development and employability as a journalist. Not only are they excellent for your CV, but they also give you tangible skills and the opportunity to network with seasoned industry professionals. The latter, for me, has been a truly inspirational experience insofar and a source of unparalleled motivation. Meeting people with wonderful, distinguished careers is a little intimidating at first. My initial approach was utter fangirldom. When someone stands before you with the job you want, it can be a struggle to think of anything to say. So a definite tip for this situation would be to calm yourself down before going up to them, and have a general idea of what you would like to say beforehand. Flattery is natural by default, but it isn’t necessarily the best approach. Have questions prepared, and do not be afraid to ask for an opportunity of work experience or taking contact details if the conversation flows well. After all, these people come to these kind of events in order to help ambitious students. Have a kind and respectful demeanour. Sell yourself but don’t overstate. Smile!
Now, for the stuff you actually want to hear: words of advice from actual professionals. Shaunagh Connaire, an Irish Journalist for Channel 4 and Associate Producer for Unreported World, gave an insight on the best approach to take when seeking internships and getting your foot in the door. Her advice was to be personal in your contact with employers. Go for coffee if possible, talk about your ideas, rather than simply emailing a CV like everyone else. Daniel Bogado, a producer and director of international current affairs documentaries for BBC, Channel 4 and AlJazeera, gave some key guidance in how to make a great impression during an internship: “Show up an hour earlier than everyone else. Go home an hour later too.”Suzanne Lavery, Executive Producer and Series Editor for Unreported World, emphasised the importance of building contacts and taking every single opportunity you can at university and within the industry. She also made note of the importance of learning a language for a career in journalism, in order to make yourself stand out as an indispensible candidate. Their hard work and perseverance clearly worked out for them, so the advice that they’ve shared is an essential consideration for anyone looking to kickstart a career in media. The main thing to take away from my time at the event is the important of being active. Awareness and commitment are things that are imperative to anyone in the pursuit of their long term career goals, and especially within the media industry – so, if it’s what you want to do, you should really go for it.