My first month on an NCTJ accredited course

By Leonora Houston, bursary recipient 2011-2012

After a month of juggling work and study as a part-time NCTJ Multimedia student at News Associates, Manchester, I’m still on a high. Deadlines, networking and Saturday morning rush hours are just some of the things I’ve had to contend with, yet thanks to the Journalism Diversity Fund I’m learning priceless skills and making incredible contacts.

Having attended the annual Journalism Diversity Fund celebratory lunch last month I realise just how many opportunities are now open to me. The event was hosted by Pearson in London and it gave me a chance to network with top industry professionals from The Guardian, ITN, BBC and the Newspaper Licensing Agency, and talking to previous bursary recipients about their courses was invaluable.

In my first month at News Associates, I’ve already been out on the streets finding the next big headline for mancunianmatters.co.uk. Quizzing and badgering people you’ve only just introduced yourself to can be daunting but it gives you an insight into how tough this industry is.

There are so many stories waiting to be headlined, even in Manchester. From the Manchester Food and Drink Festival to Black History Month at the Imperial War Museum North, my fellow students and I will be covering them all.

After recently attending Manchester University’s Ethnic Diversity Jobs Fair, I realised that more and more businesses are discovering how important it is to have diverse backgrounds in the workplace. It brings new, original ideas to business and shows how companies are evolving in this tough economy. The competition to succeed in any industry is fiercer so now, more than ever, you have to stay focused.

The months to come are going to be hard, but knowing that someone is behind me all the way keeps me focused on my dreams. It makes the Saturday morning classes more fulfilling, the shorthand easier to decode and the stories easier to find. With the course and the Journalism Diversity Fund behind me, I feel totally prepared.