The time is 5.09am, and the birds are twittering outside my window. I’m tucked up in bed, but surrounded by books, handouts and scribbled notes, with two empty mugs featuring tea residue on the bedside table. I’ve just completed an evening of intense editing my students’ newspaper, written a feature on a journalism conference I attended at the weekend, and I have yet to start my seminar reading for my two hours of contact time later. This is the life of balancing editing a students’ newspaper, whilst trying to complete your final year of a degree.
Whether you are studying for a degree in journalism or not, extra CV work and other media related activities will feature heavily in day-to-day activities if you’re serious about a career in journalism. With student radio stations, TV channels and newspapers all providing an incredible opportunity to get your hands dirty in the media and learn all the skills necessary for any wannabe journo to get a foot in the door, isn’t that more important than your degree script anyway?
Sort of. Most journalists will happily admit they spent more time working on their student media than on their actual degree (myself included). As long as I can scrape a 2.1 in History and Politics out of the bag, I should be fine, right?
It’s a hard balance to get right; an employer won’t look at you without a 2.1, but also requires you to have an extensive portfolio of work, a bunch of extra curricular activities on the CV and a bank of work experience placements to round off your university education.
My day to day life revolves around student media, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’ll either spend it writing my next article, doing admin and emails for the newspapers, recording and editing a radio bulletin, or script-writing and filming videos. Keeping a detailed diary and having my phone glued to me at all times are pretty much musts. Whilst I have made the conscious choice to make student media my life, these skills are going to prove of more value to me than my degree ever will.
The only sad thing is that I love History and Politics, and most of the time it does get pushed to the sidelines. Don’t forget what you’ve gone to university for, whether that’s to study journalism, chemistry or law. They say no-one ever dies wishing they’d spent more time at work, but I fear I might. I have an entire lifetime of journalism ahead of me, so it’s alright to read up about the War on Terror and the Enlightenment now, while I still can.
Are you trying to balance a degree and student journalism at the same time? Tweet us @wannabehacks and share your stories.
Photo by City College Norwich