Are you currently in employment and if so where?
Reporter and presenter at BBC NI
What made you want to do a postgraduate course and why Ulster University?
I was an undergraduate in England and left with a combined degree in English & American Studies. After that I worked as a reporter in local newspapers for two years but I was conscious that I had no formal qualifications or training in journalism, especially broadcasting. I wanted to further my prospects and I knew that being professionally accredited in journalism was essential for the opportunities I wanted to explore.
I researched several universities which offered accredited postgraduate courses and decided on Ulster University, despite having other offers. There are various reasons but mainly because of the comprehensive nature of the course (TV, radio and online modules) and the good track record of graduates going on to careers at places like the BBC. Not being from Northern Ireland, the decision to accept a place at Ulster UniversityU was a gamble but it’s a choice I’m really happy I made.
What did you enjoy most about the course? Is there one thing in particular that stands out?
Numbers were restricted and being part of a relatively small class was a huge bonus. I think there were 14 of us on the course so we enjoyed easy access to lecturers, resources and got to know each other well. Until UU, I hadn’t done any radio or TV training so learning about the basics was priceless, especially because the university had good facilities that we could use in our spare time. I’ve kept in contact with the lecturers and friends who also did the masters which has been really important because almost all of us work in media and can offer each other help and advice, even several years after graduating.
Has this course brought any benefit to you since graduating?
Having an accredited journalism masters from Ulster University definitely carried weight after I graduated. Being accredited in print and broadcast journalism was an important box ticked in the eyes of employers and opened some doors when I re-entered the workplace. The work placements I secured as part of the masters enabled me to make some good contacts and get my first taste on broadcasting on the front line of news. I suppose the course also meant I developed specific skills for reporting in Northern Ireland, which ultimately helped me return here and work for the BBC.
What advice would you give someone considering postgraduate study?
Embrace the experience fully; both the academic and social side. The lectures are important and a master’s degree in journalism is beneficial. The course could be your stepping stone into a great staff job at places like Sky, RTE, ITV or the BBC. Like every other profession, the real education comes when you enter the workplace, so make sure to enjoy yourself and make new friends in what will probably be your last experience of university. A career in journalism and broadcasting is tough, it’s not for everyone, but I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else.
Describe your experience of studying at Ulster in 3 words
Insightful, enjoyable and important