I wanted to squeeze as much out of my time at university as possible.
Sunderland was my first choice of university and when I came to visit and saw what it had to offer, I knew I didn’t want to go anywhere else.
From the start I was bowled over by the first-class facilities the University had – so good they would actually be the envy of many journalists working on national newspapers – and the excellent course really gave me a fantastic grounding in journalism.
But what really stood out for me about Sunderland was the wealth of hands-on projects on offer, both as part of the course and extracurriculum work, which undoubtedly helped to shape me as a journalist.
I actively got involved in a range of projects from working on the bi-annual student newspaper and editing the student magazine to writing online articles and blogs.
To see my name written in print for the first time was a real buzz and the real life experience I gained was invaluable – from sourcing and writing stories to building contacts and hitting tight deadlines.
I was keen and eager to learn and made sure I grabbed every opportunity to learn from projects – I wanted to squeeze as much out of my time at university as possible and I was never left wanting.
In fact a blog I did about journalism and education on my own website ended up becoming the basis of a research paper, that with the help of a lecturer I got published. I later presented this to The Guardian Student Media Conference in the form of a podcast.
That ultimately helped me get my foot in the door at The Guardian and undoubtedly helped me to get offered a job there before I’d even graduated.
The expertise among the lecturers too is fantastic and they all have relevant industry experience which you can really learn from, which keeps you ahead of the game.
Journalism is such a rapidly-changing industry and you need a university like Sunderland with state of the art facilities and lecturers with recent industry knowledge to best prepare you for that.
They were also superb in their approach as they were flexible and would always listen to your ideas and give you all the help and support you needed to carry them out.
For my final year I did a micro news blog called SR2, which was based on the two and a half square mile patch where I lived and I was given a free rein and a load of encouragement from the lecturers to do that.
I believe the University of Sunderland has provided the right platform to get me to where I am now – it gave me the direction and the skills that I needed and without that there is no way that I would be at The Guardian now.
The University of Sunderland is a hot bed of enthusiasm, expertise and initiative and it really is all there for the taking."