I mentioned in my Brilliant club post that I recently went to an event put on by the Academic Practice Unit about careers in journalism. There are lots of different careers events put on but this is the first I’ve attended, partly because I’m still only in the first year of my PhD and partly because none of them so far have felt that relevant to me. So how do you find out about events like this? Well generally we get emailed about them. Anyone registered on BlackBoard (the Universities Virtual Learning Environment) as a PGR (Post-Graduate Researcher) is automatically emailed about these kind of events. So in April I got this email:
Have you ever thought about a career in journalism?
If you are considering a career in journalism or even if you have toyed with the idea then this Evening Career Event is an opportunity to learn more about what it is like to work in the areas of on-line journalism, broadcast media and print media.
Date: Wednesday April 20th; Time 6pm
For further details and to book your place, please see web page.
I decided almost straight away to attend and booked my place, as you might be able to tell from my blog I’m interested in writing and science communication, so it seemed like an event for me. I was really looking forward to it, hoping I could get an idea of what I might expect to face if I decided journalism was for me. I was running a little late after finishing in the lab (research first, potential careers second – the mantra of a PhD student) but managed to arrive before anything had started. We got a brief introduction and an apology that one of the speakers had unfortunately dropped out. The three remaining speakers offered experience in TV, newspapers and online publishing. Newspapers and online were the one’s I was interested in. Unfortunately I was quite disappointed in the evening and a quick look around the room told me I wasn’t the only one.
One speaker offered little information on what working in broadcast media was like, instead giving us a spoken CV, most of which was not journalism based. I had higher hopes for the other talks. The newspaper based speaker was interesting but most definitely winging it, luckily the chance to question him on aspects of print journalism – I mean how many stories are you expected to write in a day? – saved his talk, and a lot of people did ask questions. The final speaker came across as more prepared and he had plenty to say but none of it felt particularly new, I already knew to get publishing (I do have a blog…) so didn’t really feel I gained anything from what he said. He suggested that a grounding in print journalism was important before moving online, but we had just be told that the future was online.
Maybe I was expecting too much? Maybe not everyone there was already blogging? I can’t speak for others but I was disappointed, and I think a few other faces around the room were as well. I don’t think this is a reflection on the Academic Practice unit. They put on an event that was, judging by the number of attendees, in demand. Unfortunately their speakers didn’t deliver, but you can’t hold that against the organisers, it would be like blaming a wedding planner for the best man’s awful speech. I haven’t been put off careers events just yet, and I’m crossing my fingers this one will be repeated sometime before I graduate with different speakers. If it is I’ll let you know.