Remember that feeling, like you were drowning in words and letters, like the pages were going to come alive in front of your very eyes and smother you with all the information you had yet to learn? That feeling of hopelessness and being so sure that you would fail? The constant cycle of fear of exams and relief when they were finished was how many of us spent the last five or six years through sixth form/college and then university. At that time, it was difficult to visualise a life outside of the cycle and to imagine actually going to work and finishing the day without homework and further reading…
Then, the end was in sight. That glimmer of light at the end of a tunnel made of books, it wasn’t just the reflection from your glasses, or yet another clock timing your essay writing. That glimmer was freedom! It was the realisation that there was a world outside of your studies and that you would soon be thrust into it and forced to find a real 9-5 job, to sign up to a pension plan and to make your own pack-up lunches. Wow. How exciting it was to think that after three years of studying for the privilege, you would finally be eligible for your dream job – or at least one at the bottom of the rung with hopes of making it to that dream job. It might sound sad, but after three years of studying, reading, writing essays, of partying hard and staying up late, I was ready to leave that world and move on to a real career. I had finally worked out that I wanted to be a journalist or to work in the media and I was eager to sink my teeth into a new and real challenge.
I was lucky, I had put the time and effort into extra work experience, unpaid positions, and had made the connections needed to secure me a job early on, but I hadn’t realised how much work was involved when one decides to become a journalist! The problem is, when you leave university, you just assume that you have written your last essay, scribbled madly in your last exam, made your final presentation and submitted your final piece of group work. But the shock comes when you realise it’s not the case. Now more than ever, with competition so high for jobs and everyone reaching incredible standards of training, it is important to keep ahead of the game by taking advantage of as many types of training as possible.
I have two friends who studied English with me at university and they are now elbow-deep in teacher training, creating learning resources and endless amounts of paperwork – they arrive at work two hours before the children arrive for school and continue to work for several hours after they leave, barely breaking for lunch, then carry on with more work in the evenings. They work harder now that ever before, and although it will all be worth it in the long run, I’m sure that both of them would love to be enjoying a 9-5 job which sees them focusing on the children rather than the paperwork.
As some of you may have already read on my About page, I chose to take the job offered to me and to enrol in my distance learning NTCJ Diploma in Journalism course rather than fork out the few thousand to study the 10-week course – it was cost-effective and meant I could work straight away rather than miss the job opportunity. My problem was the fact that after studying for three years and paying more than £10,000 for the privilege alongside mountains of extra work experience, I was still not qualified enough for the job! This was such a kick in the teeth. I had finally found the career I had longed for and I was finally given the chance to work full-time, but I was to be penalised in my wages for not having my NCTJ qualification. I understand that I journalism, there are aspects such as shorthand and law that you need to study in order to protect yourself as a writer – but it doesn’t take away from the fact that so many graduates are finding themselves still not qualified enough for the jobs they are applying for despite studying for a full three or four years!
It is a very unfair part of the education system, but even more so for those who managed to enrol on a journalism course that didn’t take them through all the necessary exams or to 100wph shorthand – that must be very disappointing – to finish a three-year journalism BA and still have to pay for the 10-week course.It just shows you, you really need to push yourself to get every advantage that is available to you to stand a chance in the big, wide, world.