Here at National Careers Service, we love telling your stories! We supported Leah from Birkenhead to enter her dream industry, Journalism. So, it only felt right for Leah to use her journalistic skills to write her own story.
My passion for investigative reporting can be directly pinned to perhaps the most poignant milestone in every young-teenager’s existence; the UK’s University Clearing system. Until this point my knowledge of the journalist sector was gaunt and gimmicky; conjuring up half formed notions of fictional TV journalists, notably Renée Zellweger’s character in Bridget Jones’s Diary and Ron Burgundy’s Anchorman.
It was only upon receiving my acceptance onto Bangor University’s BA Journalism degree that I began to truly appreciate the nuances of the profession; ranging from broadcast journalists, reviews journalism to breaking-news reporters that covered fast-paced current affairs. I was captivated by the possibility of a career that asked such burgeoning questions and offered social commentary on real-world social issues. I became determined to entrench myself within a similar role by throwing myself headfirst into academic studies.
Three years later and all the late night study sessions, exam preparation and panicked last-minute revision had finally paid off. Having spent the majority of my final year in complete isolation due to the COVID-19 pandemic – I had successfully graduated with a First Class (Hons) degree from Bangor University, a gold-standard Employability Award and a myriad of writing and reporting experience working with the University’s student newspaper; Seren.
And I had absolutely no clue what to do with any of it.
Six months later I was working my first ever full-time role at a local digital marketing agency as a Graduate PR Executive. I was required to liaise with all kinds of journalists on a regular basis and although the role made me feel content, I experienced a constant niggling of ‘what if’ I had followed my heart and chased my dreams by pursuing journalism on a full-time basis. I couldn’t help but wonder whether I’d have found success in the industry, but was too nervous about the possibility of failure to take the plunge and leave my marketing role completely, so I did my best to push those dreams out of my mind.
That was until my role was made redundant by the agency, merely two months after entering the field. At first it was difficult to come to terms with what had happened and I found myself dealing with complex emotions of anger, uncertainty and fear for what lay ahead. In hindsight, the redundancy from marketing was exactly the push I needed to explore journalism fully as a viable career option, although as an early twenty-something with little to no industry experience – I found myself at a total loss for where to begin the transition.
In a bid for some advice, I reached out to the National Careers Service. I had not been familiar with the service before and admittedly felt sceptical as to how much industry-specific advice they could provide me with. A couple of days later, I was desperately scrolling through job sites when I was contacted by a Careers Adviser from the National Careers Service named Lisa, stating that she had seen my application via the website and wanted to reach out to provide me with some career guidance. Lisa explained to me that she previously worked as a celebrity journalist, TV & Radio Plugger in my local area for years before making the transition into career advice and that she understood how lucrative writing and reporting opportunities can be to budding professionals who are new to the industry.
Chatting with Lisa was so insightful, it was the first time I felt completely understood in terms of my career anxieties since graduating from university. I also felt at ease to open up to her about my long-term ambitions to pursue a journalism career. I was writing for a couple of local magazines in order to increase my portfolio, which I briefly mentioned over the phone. Hearing this, Lisa added that although she had left the industry, she still held a couple of journalist contacts and would gladly put me in touch with them in order to help me gain more experience in the field.
I was over the moon, this was the first time I had received some industry-specific connections and was resolute to make the most of the opportunity. I sent an email to one of Lisa’s ex-journalist colleagues, who straight away put me in touch with the editor of the Liverpool ECHO – one of my dream publications to write for. From there, the opportunities continued to snowball and bolster my career. I was presented with the chance to shadow at the newspaper, which was certainly a ‘pinch me’ moment for myself!
Today, I am on-track to becoming a fully qualified journalist by the end of next year. I am currently undertaking my NCTJ accreditation alongside multiple magazine and newspaper placements with national publications. It is the first time that I confidently feel as though I am on the correct path and finally feel excited about what the future holds. My writing has also improved in leaps and bounds, which has instilled in me an unshakable sense of confidence regarding my abilities as a journalist. I’ve written articles on a myriad of topics, from covering local poetry festivals, this year’s Comic Con convention in Wrexham and even interviewing a multi-award winning Welsh male voice choir! I cannot thank The National Careers Service and Lisa enough for all of their expert guidance.
For graduates who are looking to make a career change but are unsure about where to begin, I have one piece of advice – don’t hesitate! Although it may initially seem daunting, the feeling of working in a career that you can wholeheartedly enjoy is unprecedented. The National Careers Service offers an excellent starting point for those seeking advice and guidance, looking to diversify their skillset or even just someone to listen to their work-related concerns.
As someone who didn’t have much professional experience to start with, it is always worth reaching out to ask for advice – your career can develop in ways that are completely unexpected!
We wish Leah the very best of luck for the future. We just know she will achieve even more amazing things.
And if you’ve been inspired by Leah’s story and would like more information on how we can support YOU, just give us a call on 0800 100 900 or visit our website at nationalcareers.service.gov.uk
|NATIONAL CAREERS SERVICE (NORTH WEST) SOCIAL MEDIA|
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