I chose to study at the University of Sunderland as it offered the NCTJ accreditation alongside the Journalism course. This would allow me to get a brilliant, industry-relevant qualification which would set me up for the rest of my career - and it did just that! I also chose Sunderland because the facilities on St Peter’s Campus were superior to the other universities I looked at – including ones which are all a lot closer to home in Brighton. With fully decked-out radio recording studios, Mac labs and film and photography studies, it was a no brainer – which is exactly what I told my parents when I got off my flight at London Gatwick after flying to the North East for an individual tour.
The best aspects of the course were the lecturers! My tutors were always supportive and I never felt scared to knock on their doors and ask for advice. The fact we were learning from industry professionals made it all the better learning experience. Without a doubt I have no regrets about going to Sunderland. You are made to feel like you aren’t just a number but that your opinion actually matters to your tutors and peers. I never felt scared to speak up if I didn’t agree with something or raise my hand if I had a question or needed clarification.
Once I left University and sought out work, it was very clear in the interview stages and then during my job that having the NCTJ qualifications put me on the front footing with regards to job progression. I secured myself a journalism job as a junior reporter for the Weston, Worle and Somerset Mercury and North Somerset Times for two years, before I was promoted to a senior reporter after passing my NQJ Senior Reporting exams on the first attempt. I was able to attend court cases ahead of some of my other peers who had been at the paper longer and I was able to work towards my NQJ exams in just a year and a half of being at the paper. I became the digital lead on the desk and was the ‘go-to’ reporter for digital presentation enquiries whether it was infographics, polls, quizzes, videos, sliders – you name it, I knew how to do it and that was all thanks to what I had learnt at the University of Sunderland. I remained in that role for a year before deciding to change it up a bit. I applied for a job as the PR and Communications Officer at City of Bristol College and was successful. I now make up part of a new team handling the marketing and social media channels for the website. I handle all of our social media channels and publications (like the prospectuses) and help our Web Editor with the running and updating of the website.
What advice would I give a prospective student? You need to make sure the move is a good one for you. I moved seven hours away from my family to attend university and had to accept that I was only going to see them during term breaks, and I was okay about that. You need to be happy and comfortable whether you live close to home or farther afield. I would also say you need to be prepared to take responsibility; for your studies, your bills, your home life. The tutors aren’t going to nag you like a school teacher would – if you miss the deadline that is all on you. Also embrace the university experience. I joined sports societies, made friends with different groups of people and worked part-time in a number of bar jobs and I feel I got the most out of my time at university.
Studying at the University of Sunderland was a game changer. Looking back on it now has made me really nostalgic! Everything I learned at Sunderland and everything I did has set me on the best possible course for my future and, at the risk of sounding cliché, it was the perfect stepping stone to kick-start my future.”
Published 19 May 2020