“If you are really determined to be a journalist, don’t let anything put you off”

By Helena Hickey, bursary recipient 2011-2012

As my course draws to a close, I am experiencing a mixture of emotions. I am sad, and slightly scared, that 20 of the most enjoyable weeks of my life are almost over, yet very excited about starting the career I have always dreamed of.

I secured my place on the fast-track Diploma in Journalism course at News Associates, London, whilst in my second year at Warwick University. I put the financial side of it to the back of my mind for a long time, not daring to think about it in case I realised I would have to pull out and do something more financially viable.

Moving to London for the course added to the money pressures. Although I worked full-time as soon as I left university, there was no way my wages would stretch far enough to pay for my rent, course fees and living expenses. So, I applied to the Journalism Diversity Fund. The interview was tough and I was unsure of how it went, but when I received the letter to say I had been successful, I cried for the first time in a long time.

The journalism diploma may be academic in that it is largely focused on getting you through your exams, but it is the practical elements that have best prepared me for my career as a journalist, through opportunities such as covering the London Assembly elections, going to the Old Bailey, and probably most satisfying of all, passing shorthand at 100wpm.

From my experience, there is little point in doing a diploma in journalism, and especially a full-time, fast-track course, unless you give everything to it. You have to let it take over your life, and it is because of the Journalism Diversity Fund that I have been able to do this.

Their financial support meant I didn’t need to have a job alongside my studies, so I have been able to spend my spare time studying. Having passed most of my exams already, I now have more free time to start doing what all of this work is actually for: looking for my first job in journalism.

If you are really determined to be a journalist, don’t let anything put you off – whether it be money worries, being constantly rejected or the fear of never finding a job. There is always a way to get what you want. You just have to find out what that is, and it could very well be the Journalism Diversity Fund.