What have you done in addition to your degree to enhance your employability and what do you feel you've gained from this?
When I came to Queen’s University, one of the first things I did was join Queen’s Radio. Having done some radio work prior to coming to Queen’s and having a keen interest in the media industry, I couldn’t wait to be able to use this facility. I began to co-present a weekly news show and was given the position of Sports Editor and Deputy Head of News, and this ultimately proved a fantastic platform for me to begin gaining work experience. So far, through messaging people and sending an obsessive amount of emails to different contacts, I have been able to work as press for Queen’s Radio at events such as the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Awards 2015; where I was stood alongside media professionals interviewing personalities such as Jessica Ennis-Hill and Michael O’Neill, the RTÉ Sportsperson of the Year Awards 2016 and UFC Fight Night Belfast. I also conducted a phone interview live on-air with Sky Sports Journalist Guillem Balague based on his most recent biography on Cristiano Ronaldo.
After gaining this experience, I then applied for the BBC Sport Kick Off Trainee Scheme and I was invited for an interview. This interview went very well, however I was told that unfortunately I was not going to be offered the summer placement, but that they would like to invite me in to gain some experience over the coming months. In November 2016, I met the producer for ‘Final Score from Northern Ireland’ and was shown how the show is put together for live television. Following this experience, I went out with a number of match reporters to shadow them covering Northern Ireland Premier League matches. Then, from January 2017, I was given my first freelance job as a match reporter for the BBC where I was out on my own covering a game. From this I have been covering games most weeks both as a match reporter, conducting match logs and interviews, as well as an assistant editor where I would be in the BBC studios, deciding on edits to be aired live on BBC 1 NI.
I attended a Channel 4 event in Belfast last June where 4Talent hosted a chaotic experience day, which entailed Journalism, TV Production and Digital Marketing workshops. I participated in the Journalism workshop and was given a number of lessons and tasks based around the profession. In groups of 5-6, we were set a final task of producing a 30 second video, a 250 word article and 5 still images about a journalistic piece based around the upcoming summer Paralympics. The winning group was then invited on a further experience day at Channel 4 HQ in London. I was not part of a winning group, however I was chosen individually as a ‘Rising Star’ and was fortunate enough to be invited to London. After a further day’s experience at Channel 4, we were brought back for a second time in January 2017 for a Grand Finale, where every winning group and Rising Star whom Channel 4 had chosen throughout the whole of the UK in 2016 was present. After awarding the overall winning groups for each of the three workshops, three Rising Stars were also awarded with prizes for the work they had done since the time they were at the C4 Pop Up Event. Amazingly, I was chosen as one of the three, and my prize consisted of an experience day at Channel 4 News where I was shown around and given an insight into the production of the show, presenting and editing. In addition to this I will also gain a week’s experience with sports production, ‘Whisper Films’ who are co-owned by Channel 4 and produce Formula One, along with NFL for the BBC, from Monday 10th April until Friday 14th April.
Recently, I have been fortunate enough to be nominated in the top 4 Radio Journalists of the Year in the Irish Student Media Awards, and will be attending the awards ceremony in the Aviva Stadium, in Dublin, on Thursday 6th April.
In addition to radio and television work, I have also written a number of articles and I publish all of these alongside my other forms of work on my personal website – www.visionarysports.co.uk
From these experiences, I would say the number one thing I have gained is a much greater self confidence in my own abilities and in areas such as networking and going out of my comfort zone. I have gained a phenomenal insight into the media industry and have only cemented my desire to pursue a career in the industry following my graduation from Queen’s.
Making use of Careers, Employability and Skills at Queen's
In my first year at Queen’s, I attended an RTS Futures Event in the SGC Hub where a number of media industry professionals spoke about their experiences and gave advice on how to break into the industry. This event proved very helpful to myself, and one which helped kick-start my action plan in gaining experience and making industry contacts.
I have recently finished the MEDIA Programme where I and a number of like-minded students produced four issues of ‘The Edit’. This is an online and print magazine designed for Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences students who may wish to seek guidance in finding which career field they would like to explore and what opportunities are out there for them to gain work experience. Helping others find greater direction within their own career path, along with developing my own employability skills proved greatly rewarding. This experience will allow me to gain Degree Plus Route ‘A’ accreditation.
Advice for other students
My top advice for students would be to find their passion. This may sound straight-forward to some but this is the first, and in my opinion the most difficult step, in finding and achieving your dream career. Once you know what your passion is, the pursuit of this goal is one that you will actually enjoy. It is cliché but if your job is doing something you love, then you won’t work a day in your life, and so therefore gaining experience and putting the hours in for this job will be extremely enjoyable. I would also say that it is vitally important to gain contacts, meet with people, make phone calls, send emails. If your passion is relentless, then make your persistency likewise. I have found that whilst it might seem intimidating at first, once you get moving you’ll want to go bigger and better each time. Don’t sell yourself short and tell yourself you’re too young or too inexperienced. If you put the work and time in, your passion and enthusiasm alongside of this will carry you a long way. Finally, never fear failure. I didn’t get the placement at the BBC in which I applied for, but through this so-called failure I now walk past the room I was interviewed in on the BBC Sports Floor on a weekly basis. With failure comes positives. Everyone does it, so fail your way to success.