Since I’m heading into semester two of my journalism degree tomorrow, I thought I’d give you an insight into a life of a third year/stage three/final year journalism student.
This week I spoke to 21-year-old, BA Journalism student Gemma Hirst.
Permission from Gemma Hirst to use.
Here’s what Gemma had to say!
How did you get onto your degree?
It started when my grandma told me about a theatre reviewing competition that was hosted by The Chronicle (now Chronicle Live).
I loved going to the theatre but had very little experience in writing, apart from the odd bit I did at school for my English A Level.
I decided to enter and I was able to review lots of productions and music concerts.
I loved seeing my name in the paper and the idea that everyone was reading my views on shows.
Sadly I didn’t win the competition but I got a feel for writing and serving a purpose for the arts reader. It was from there that my writing and journalism experience started, as I wrote for more publications and got involved in more writing projects.
So when it came to applying for university, journalism was the obvious choice.
What do you like about your degree?
I like the fact that we have many opportunities to get our writing out there as the Media Hub is the best place for students like me, whether you have an interest in sports, news, fashion or culture, there are plenty of online publications that you can write for.
I also like how the University of Sunderland offer opportunities to talk to experts in the journalism industry. I usually wouldn’t get that chance if I was trying to contact them myself so to have that opportunity is excellent, especially as I am in my last year of my course. Networking and getting advice from people “in the know” is vital.
What are some of the challenges of your degree?
It sounds silly as I am going to have to get used to this – but deadlines.
Sometimes I can get a few assignments all due in for the same day and it can be a struggle to balance everyday article writing and doing an essay for my module at the same time.
Luckily I have found a solution by writing myself a to do list (I must have written thousands since first year) and I can prioritise what needs doing and when.
What do you think are some of the challenges in the creative sector?
I think for me, the main concern is being able to stand out and have enough content on my journalism portfolio to be able to get a job in the industry.
We are always encouraged by the university to get as much of our writing published as we can, but I never know how much is too much and if what I am doing is good enough for future employers.
How has your degree helped you?
It has definitely confirmed to me that journalism and working in the media is what I want to do, especially after my degree enabled me to have a four week placement with Johnston Press.
I gained such an experience from those weeks, getting to work in the professional industry and getting work published on print and online was a bonus.
So getting the chance to do that has definitely put me in the right stead for getting a career in journalism.
Why did you pick the sector you want to work in?
I want to go into journalism but specifically into the culture section and be an arts reporter/theatre correspondent, purely because I love writing and I have an experience of the theatre industry. I have written a lot about culture for a long time now, so it would be great to have worked really hard and to hopefully graduate with a decent mark and go on to write articles about theatre for a publication.
Describe a typical day in your degree.
Well, it really depends on the day. Usually I will have a lecture at 9am in the morning and then in the afternoon I will have a shorthand class and perhaps a workshop following on from the morning workshop.
Being in my last year of university, my timetable is very quiet so I use my free time that I have on my schedule to work, finish off assignments and of course, write articles.
Any advice for people wanting to get into your sector and/or the creative industry?
Any opportunity you have to write: take it.
You can follow Gemma on Twitter – @GemmHirst and you can follow her blog here