Great friends, great contacts and a great start in journalism

By Dan Cooper, bursary recipient 2012/13

I remember it well. Very well in fact.  8 June 2012, 9.04am: the exact time I received an email from the Journalism Diversity Fund telling me that my dream was about to become a reality.

Now, less than a year later, I am applying for my first job as a fully-qualified journalist, something which would not have been possible without the help and support of the Journalism Diversity Fund.

Ever since watching the football results come in on Teletext and writing up my own reports from each game on my Nan’s shoddy old typewriter as a six- year-old, I knew I wanted to write for a living.

Working full-time on a low income, I did as much unpaid work experience as possible but with rent to pay and a car to run, saving any kind of money proved difficult.

I was becoming increasingly frustrated by the thought of my dream career slipping away from me, so I decided to apply for the diversity fund.

I didn’t dare to believe I would get it, so I was ecstatic when I received the email telling me I had been shortlisted.

Then came the most exciting yet terrifying experience: the interview at the Financial Times offices in London, and a week later the amazing news I was one of the lucky seven.

The course itself was more intensive than I could have ever imagined and, I’ll admit, there were plenty of days where I doubted myself and didn’t want to face going home to yet more shorthand.

I think everyone on the course will agree with me when I say I didn’t take naturally to shorthand. I really struggled with the theory, particularly in the first four or five weeks.

It was so frustrating and I honestly thought I would never get there, even with a few weeks left I couldn’t see it, but I worked so hard and with a week to go, I finally managed to get it.

The staff at News Associates really went above and beyond what was asked of them and they really helped me through the early stages, offering me support and guidance.

It may sound clichéd, but the standard of teaching is what gives News Associates the excellent reputation they have. Their door is always open and they genuinely care about the wellbeing and progress of every trainee.

If you are expecting an easy ride, late night parties, or even a social life, then a fast-track NCTJ might not be for you. They own you for 20 gruelling weeks.

You really have to live and breathe the course but if you are truly dedicated you’ll get there. Trust me, if I can pass shorthand, there is hope for us all!

I’ve made some great friends, good contacts and learned more about the industry in those 20 weeks than I could have imagined.

Since I’ve finished the course I’ve done work experience at The Independent and just secured a dream placement with Sky Sports News, all while applying for my first job as a journalist.

I genuinely could not have done the course and pursued my dream without the help of the Journalism Diversity Fund and for that I am hugely grateful.