Ten things I learnt over the last 40 weeks

By Gemma Jamieson, bursary recipient 2013-14

Coming from a financially independent background, I decided to do the NCTJ part-time course lasting 40 weeks alongside working full-time.Gemma Jamieson

This helped pay for my living costs during the course and ensured an income to cover me while job hunting.

The course started back in September 2013 when the teachers at News Associates threatened to “own” us in our spare time and that’s exactly what they did! Since then I’ve come along way.

1. The hardest challenge over the last 40 weeks was to keep all of the plates spinning at the same time

2. After arriving at News Associates, I realised how much harder the NCTJ course was compared to university

3. The aim of NCTJ is to push you to become the best. It could be thought of as a boot camp for journalists

4. The course shows no mercy, especially in the beginning as you try to come to terms with the fact that everything else in your life comes second.  Bye, bye Saturdays, Monday evenings and holiday time off work, which will be used for exams

5. The most important thing the course taught me was to believe in myself, the teachers are trying their best to shake you out of old habits and you have no choice but to positively bounce back

6. The skills you’re taught ensure you really stand out from the crowd, even when it comes to work experience placements. If someone had told me I would be getting regularly paid for my articles before the course finished, I wouldn’t have believed them

7. This brings me on to my next point: contacts. Without them I wouldn’t have got my first paid job in journalism

8. It can be helpful to look on Meetup.com, Eventbrite and Women in Journalism (if applicable) to search for local journalism events

9. The best way to think of networking is to think of making friends. The reality is you are not going to gel with everyone and that’s ok but it’s important to keep in touch with the one’s you do

10. Say yes to every opportunity that comes your way, as you never know where it will take you