Top Tips for Uni Students Wanting to Get into Journalism
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Top Tips For Uni Students Wanting To Get Into Journalism

Jasmine Sandhar January 31, 2022

Aside from those who are studying vocational subjects, not many people know exactly what they want to do career-wise after they graduate. The great thing about journalism is that it is so flexible. You can start it before, during or after you get your degree. That could be for a company or you could be your own boss as a freelancer. You can focus on writing or perhaps veer towards presenting. It is a career with an enormous amount of scope. With that being said, it’s also ‘fiercely competitive’ to get into. So here are my top tips to get you on the right track.

Join all of your university’s student media societies

Almost every university in the UK has some version of a student media society. Whenever you get the chance, trial them all out. You may think that you definitely want to go into a certain area. However, until you have tested all the options available to you, there’s always room for uncertainty. For me, I thought that I was only good at writing, so I dedicated a lot of time to my university’s student-run newspaper. But, under the insistence from a friend, I decided to have a go at speaking on the radio at our university’s radio station and I learnt that I really enjoyed talking on air, too.

Moreover, there are so many roles within each avenue that you’re not even aware of until you are working in an office or studio. For example, you may realise that editing is more of your thing instead of writing. Or you may prefer the behind-the-scenes tech stuff the camera crew do for television networks over being a presenter. Learning what you don’t like is just as, if not more, important as learning what you do like, so do not be afraid to give everything a shot.

Follow journalists on social media

If you don’t have Twitter, download it right now. In the same way that TikTok has taken over TV shows, tweeting is the new form of journalism. In addition to keeping up with all the major news outlets, I would recommend following a range of journalists who have special interests in various subjects and come from an array of different countries. This will give you a much broader perspective on what is happening, allowing you to attack pieces from multiple angles rather than being biased or boring.

Aside from professional journalists, it is also a good idea to follow accounts that give regular advice on how to break into the industry. Some of my favourites are @soyouwanttobeajournalist, run by Chandni Sembhi, and @journoresources, who have a brilliant email newsletter.

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Focus on local news

While it is tempting to write or talk about absolutely everything that is going on in the world, it is probably the most saturated market. National current affairs are important, but what is going to make someone read a random university student’s article over the BBC version of it? Focusing on local news gives you a unique selling point. Not only will it allow you to produce consistently fresh content, it will also reach the right audience.

Student journalism is often discredited for being of poorer quality in comparison to other media outlets because the wrong people are reading or listening or viewing what is being produced. Most students write for other students. People want to know what is happening on campus, whether it is about the best food available or which university professor is getting sacked next. Play into that interest and make the most of what you have right in front of you.

Do not stop writing!

A journalist can never write or talk too much because there are always new things to write or talk about. You should be generating a consistent number of articles or audio bits every week, regardless of if you are getting paid for them or not.

I would also suggest sharing that content across all the social media channels you have. Get friends, family, tutors, housemates and other journalists to engage with your work and see what they think of it. Personally, I have a separate journalism account on Instagram and Twitter that I upload all of my work to. That way my work life is separate from my social life.

Either way, you are your biggest fan. If you are not pushing the amazing media projects that you have been working hard on, then who is?

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Jasmine is currently a second-year English and History student at the University of Birmingham and the Deputy Editor of Redbrick Newspaper. She has experience writing for a variety of sections, including Comment, Culture, Music, TV and Food&Drink. Her interest lies in amplifying the student voice through providing younger people with a platform to voice their concerns, and this is the activism she aims to achieve through her journalism.