There’s a host of careers a journalism degree can lead to, from traditional and digital journalist jobs to becoming an Editor or Copywriter, or making the move into Public Relations or Marketing. One University of Sunderland journalism graduate who decided to move into Public Relations is Amy Watson, Communications Manager at Sunderland Software City. Here, she shares her career insight into how transferable journalism is and offers advice to current students and graduates to achieve career success.
Why choose the University of Sunderland to study journalism?
“The University’s reputation speaks for itself, and one of the added benefits of the Journalism degree is that you get the journalism qualification and the industry qualification (NCTJ), which is vitally important. The NCTJ is the qualification that editors demand of you. I now not only understand the industry, I practise the industry, I practise the values of the industry. The Journalism Masters gave me the practical understanding and you apply that knowledge to a real-life working environment, it gave me a little bit more of an insight and practical understanding of the workplace environment,” says Amy.
Every Journalism course at Sunderland is NCTJ accredited, leading you to the Level 3 Diploma in Journalism, which is highly regarded by editors when recruiting journalists. You’ll learn the core skills of every journalist, from Shorthand, Reporting, Public Affairs, Media Law and an e-portfolio of work, to specialist options such as Court Reporting, Video Journalism, Business of Magazines, Production Journalism, Broadcast Journalism to Business and Finance Journalism and Photography. By achieving the nationally recognised qualification you’ll demonstrate that you have the relevant traditional and digital skills sought after by employers."
Amy adds: “The Journalism course at Sunderland is one of the best places in the UK to study journalism. The University is a really open and inclusive environment. I’m from Sunderland originally, and I know how friendly the city is. It’s a fun place to study, but it’s also got the added benefits of being by the coast, and the study-life balance is second to none.
There’s a lot of opportunity on your doorstep and it’s got a burgeoning arts and music scene, it’s a really exciting place to live and there’s a lot of really positive changes happening. For anybody considering studying at Sunderland, it’s a really innovative place to come and live and immerse yourself in the culture of the city. We’ve got so much history and heritage on our doorstep and we’re at the forefront of technology and new developments as well. The city is really starting to carve a niche for itself as an upcoming hub especially in the IT and technology sector, which I’m fortunate enough to work in, and there are so many great opportunities in Sunderland and the wider North East for people in creative and digital industries."
What advice would you give to current Journalism students?
“Keep your options open. If it’s your dream to go and work on a national newspaper, follow your dream, but keep an open mind and read around different types of journalism, and get as much experience as possible. It could be as simple as setting up your own blog and building up a portfolio of different types of writing. Writing for different audiences is really important and when you come to graduate and start applying for jobs it gives you a bigger portfolio and a wider range of experience to draw on.
"I collected cuttings and screenshots of writing I did and assembled them into a portfolio which I still have now. Keep an active list of things you’ve done and new experiences, so when you come to write your CV you’ve all these different skills that help you stand out from the crowd and make you more employable. Whatever experience, no matter how small you think it is, make a note of it and you never know when you might draw on it again," she adds.
At Sunderland, you’ll have the opportunity to get your name out there and create a competitive portfolio of work. You can work in the mediaHUB on our award-winning platforms, and gain industry experience as a multimedia journalist, creating content covering a wide range of interests such as fashion, sport, music, news, arts and entertainment.
The mediaHUB: home to our student-led publications
Ongoing career support
The graduate jobs market is competitive, that’s why the Careers and Employability Service offers you ongoing support as you plan your career. We provide opportunities to gain paid and voluntary work experience, enabling you to leave university with the skills and experience valued by employers. Take advantage of the range of extensive opportunities we offer and enhance your employability.
Amy adds: “There’s a lot of competition out there and I thought ‘how can I boost my chances of employment?'. I came back to the University for a CV clinic and it was at the CV clinic that the University’s advisors pointed me to the Internship Scheme. I had a meeting with one of the internship advisors, submitted my CV and within two weeks I had three interviews lined up for internal communication jobs and a PR agency. I had three interviews and two job offers.”
The Graduate Internship Scheme offers an excellent way to begin your graduate-level career. As an intern, you’ll be working for an organisation on a full-time basis and earn a wage of at least £17,000 pro rata. An internship is a fantastic way to build contacts and boost your practical skills.
Amy began an internship as a PR assistant for Business and Enterprise Group, supporting their brand communications. “They had a suite of different brands and a brand called Compete North East focusing specifically on opportunities relating to the London 2012 Olympics, and after only six weeks of being in the job I was assigned PR management of the Compete North East brand.
"I was given a six-month internship, then offered a full-time role as a marketing assistant, and within nine months I was promoted to Marketing Executive. I was there for two years and had three different job roles with which came slightly more responsibility” she says.
Attitude is everything
“Having the right attitude and being willing to learn is just as vital as having the qualifications. When I got the internship I spent the first four weeks trying to immerse myself in as many people’s different jobs as possible. I asked if I could work shadow to learn more about what I was there to do but what other people were there to do and by doing that I was able to add value to their jobs,” Amy adds.
“Journalism and the writing skills were massively beneficial. Having journalism skills helped me acclimatise to my role, and I think university helps you with transferable skills which are massively important to employers everywhere regardless of your role, having communication skills, being able to work as part of a team, meeting your own workload, prioritisation, and even just the ability to get up on a morning are really important, they prepare you for the world of work,” says Amy.
"In interviews talk about why you want to do the job and what value you think you could add. Have the confidence to apply and see what happens. Once you’ve attended a few interviews you have to take rejection and turn any negatives into a positive, and it can dent your confidence, but I would always ring up for feedback and ask honestly what I lacked or what made the candidate a better fit than I was and use that for my next job interview," concludes Amy.
Published: 13 September 2017