NCTJ Student Council – “Never give up”

By Olivia Heath, bursary recipient 2011-2012

I recently attended the NCTJ Student Council at the University of Salford in MediaCityUK. Being chosen as the student representative for my course at Brunel University was a role that I was looking forward to undertaking as I would be able to put across any views and opinions of my class mates concerning the NCTJ syllabus.

Upon my travels to Manchester I was curious about what the day would entail, but it turned out to be an invaluable experience.

I found the talk by Peter Allen, co-presenter of Drive on BBC Radio 5 Live, to be honest, enlightening and encouraging. He mentioned the highs and lows of his career and gave little gems of advice along the way. “Never give up,” he said. They may be typical words that journalists are quick to tell aspiring hacks but hearing them from a journalist whose career spans 40 years really does give you that drive to continue.

I have always enjoyed writing but I only really thought about journalism as a career when I was about 16 years old and I got the chance to work with the BBC magazines team in Shepherds Bush, London. I spent the whole day creating a glossy double-page magazine spread. Walking through the offices where journalists were hard at work made me in awe of it. Fast forward all these years and here I am, working towards gaining my NCTJ qualifications and an MA in journalism, with the help of the Journalism Diversity Fund.

To end what was a successful day at the student council, we got to have a tour of MediaCityUK and have a nosy at the BBC offices. I popped my head in the new and yet-to-be unveiled BBC breakfast set where I watched how the weather reports work and I passed all the BBC journalists typing away and making phone calls and it was a similar vision from all those years ago. I was still in awe of it.

Above all the student council was a day of networking and it was great to speak to other students who are going through the exact same thing as me. We discussed the troubles of shorthand, compared our timetabling and structure of exam dates and even debated on the Leveson Inquiry at one point. But what was evident among all of us was that we all wanted the same thing: we all want to be successful and talented journalists.