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Case Study

Laura Wilson

Northallerton, UK

BA (Hons) Journalism


Laura Wilson knew that in order to become a journalist and secure a job at a news organisation she would need to achieve a degree in journalism, preferably one with NCTJ accreditation. This led her to apply to Sunderland, where at an Open Day she was impressed by the facilities, location and examples of student work. After graduation she secured a job at The Northern Echo and now works at North Yorkshire County Council as a Press Officer.

I wanted to become a journalist and was told I had to have a degree to secure a job at any news organisation. I had done numerous work experience placements with The Northern Echo, and some of the journalists had got their degrees from Sunderland, which is one of the few universities in the country to include the NCTJ qualification in their journalism courses.

I hadn’t visited Sunderland before but the campus by the beach was picturesque, and the facilities were the most modern I had seen. The open day was very impressive, showcasing the achievements of former students and giving a taste of what to expect. The SR News publication and Spark Radio was a definite bonus.

Each module tested my newswriting skills which improved throughout my time at university and also during my career. Journalism is a course that improves communication, writing and social skills which can be utilised in a wide range of careers. Media ethics was really interesting and when working at The Northern Echo I used what I had learnt when court reporting. Public affairs has also become integral to my career in local government, as it taught me the workings and structure of the public sector. The course also enabled me to cover events such as the Sunderland Airshow and SAFC matches, which gave me examples of work to take to perspective employers.

The campus is by far the best I have seen. It is close to the city centre with good transport links and by the beautiful seaside. I can’t stress how vital it is to complete a journalism course with NCTJ accreditation and 100wpm shorthand for those wanting to work in news organisations. I wouldn’t have been offered any of my previous jobs without achieving both. Shorthand is still integral to my work and I use it on a daily basis.

In the summer after graduation I secured a job at The Northern Echo covering maternity leave of a Senior Reporter on the North Yorkshire desk. Towards the end of the contract I went for a job of Press Officer at Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council, which was another one-year contract. When this came to an end a job came up at North Yorkshire County Council as a Press Officer. I’m lucky enough to be in a permanent role in a career that uses everything I have learnt in my degree. I love my job and would look to continue working on the press desk, hopefully becoming a Senior Press Officer one day.

If I was going to pass on any advice to future students, I would say take every opportunity that comes your way. Gathering contacts from work experience placements secured me my first job, and producing examples of work during my time at Sunderland made me stand out from other candidates. Every lecture counts. And make sure to secure the NCTJ qualification with 100wpm shorthand!

My time at Sunderland was some of the best years of my life. Everything I learnt there has helped me get to where I am in my career today.”

Published 19 May 2020

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