Determination

By Kirsten Elder, bursary recipient, 2011-2012

‘Getting your foot in the door’ is a term that aspiring journalists get told time and time again, so if you’re not used to hearing it, get used to it.

It’s 2009, the year I graduated with my journalism degree. I had no idea how much more hard work and freelance writing would be involved in the next few years before I got my foot in the door.

This has happened to me recently, after completing the NCTJ diploma in journalism in Belfast. I was able to refresh my mind in media law and gain shorthand. This was a hard year but I’m glad I completed the course and now have another qualification.

With journalism you are never fully trained. With technology moving at such a fast pace you have to keep up-to-date with your training, making sure you’re the best candidate for the job.

You have to be able to work in print, broadcast and video, making sure you’re as multi-skilled as possible.

As an aspiring journalist you have to be patient, determined, hardworking and enthusiastic. You also have to get used to the word ‘no’ and to rejection. A former journalist once told me: “You will have many no’s before you get your one yes.”

That person was right and after many knock backs I finally got my yes. Now I work as a freelance journalist for local papers in my spare time, work part-time on local radio and also as a cleaner.

I’m like three different people with a variety of jobs. From being a cleaner to a writer to a programme assistant; finding local talent and meeting local celebrities.

How did I do it? I kept a contact book with everyone I met and kept it close to me. I built on relationships with people in media and I sent hundreds of emails, made hundreds of calls, and pestered local papers until they finally took notice of me.

Find out what your passion is, perfect it, and keep at it and you will one day get to where you want to be. I’m only at the start of my journey and I look forward to what the future holds.

Thanks to the NCTJ Diversity Fund and Maggie Swarbrick (University of Ulster, Coleraine) my dreams have been made a reality. Never forget the people who help you on your way up because they will still be there on your way down.