University teaches you lots of lessons from the very start; how to be more independent, manage finances and so much more! But you can actually learn a lot on your course too in the first year – you don’t just gain knowledge on the subject you’re studying but you learn what you should and shouldn’t do. Here’s ten lessons I learnt from being a first year journalism student.
- You really don’t need those clipboards you bought or those sparkly gel pens.
I got really excited when I found out I was accepted onto my journalism course and I went out and bought all the stationery I thought I would need – and trust me I thought I needed a lot (see below).
I’ve only used a small amount of what I bought – my notebooks, pens, portable hard drive, bags, sticky labels and my diary. That’s it. I didn’t really use the fancy pens because biro’s will do. You want something quick and easy to write with especially when you’re out practicing journalism. I never used the clipboards, Sharpie pens or the subject dividers. It may change next year, but you really don’t need a lot!
2. There’s a lot more to learn about journalism – because it isn’t easy.
There is a definite misconception that journalism is easy; that all you do is write. You do write as a journalist but there’s a lot more that goes into it – how to construct sentences, how to use the right grammar, how to make your story or script flow – and that’s just the writing part! You’ll learn to interview, to report, to understand ethics and legal issues and a lot more. You’ll learn that journalism isn’t easy – and you’ll remember that!
There’s definitely a lot of highs and lows.
3. Writing a little about a lot is better than having a specialism – at first.
In September 2015 I was adamant that I wanted to work within the political sphere of journalism. I wanted to write about politics and that was it!` But then I asked for advice from Kevin Maguire, the associate editor of the Daily Mirror, columnist from the New Statesman and Sky News commentator. I asked him if I should concentrate on politics during my time at university – but I was told to write widely. I’m glad I took his advice because now I enjoy writing about everything. I still love writing about politics, but I’m just as happy writing about business, health or any other topic.
4. The path you want your career to follow may change.
This relates to lesson 3. As I said I walked into the degree knowing exactly what I wanted to do, but it changed several times during my first year. I now think that I want to work in radio being a reporter or a news-reader. My passion lies in radio now, but I also love online journalism and print journalism too. A degree in journalism will certainly make you think!
For example at the air show, I loved being a photographer for online and reporting for radio.
5. Practicing is the best thing you can do.
I’ve been practicing journalism since I started my degree course; getting out and about covering different events and stories. I’ve covered breaking news, on-going stories, new ones too as well as features in various mediums – print, online, video and radio. Without practicing what I’ve learnt I don’t think I’d be as content as I am now. I learn by doing things and I learn that journalism is still the career for me.
You can even start your own blog, podcast or YouTube channel – just keep using the skills you learn.
6. You may get frustrated at times when learning new skills – but you will get through it.
Learning new skills can be frustrating sometimes. I’ve had to learn new software, how to use different pieces of equipment that I haven’t used before and learn new skills that I didn’t think I’d have to learn. It does get frustrating but you have to keep practicing and you will get through it. It’s something I’ll definitely remember when I start learning more new skills in the second year of my degree.
7. Using a contacts book is one of the best things you can do in your first year.
Another great piece of advice I got was to get a contacts book. Using your mobile phone to store contacts is great, but using a physical book is even better – well it is for me anyway! It means I can have names and numbers at hand quickly instead of having to search for them again. It’s a small investment that will work wonders when you need contacts at the drop of a hat.
What have you learnt from the first year of your course? Let me know in the comments section below or on my social media accounts.