7 things I wish I knew before starting News Journalism3 April 2022
My dream was always to finish my undergraduate degree and go on to do the News Journalism masters at Cardiff.
The course is amazing; Cardiff’s Journalism pathways are the best in the country. The Alumni network is extensive and the employability from those graduating from the course is so high.
I think the thing that I didn’t factor in was just how much harder it is than undergrad. It seems obvious, a masters is clearly going to be harder than an undergraduate degree. However, when you are a hard worker and think you gave your undergrad your all, it seems like there is not much else you can give a masters. You do end up burning the wick at both ends.
I have learnt that I have had to sacrifice things in order to survive and succeed in this course. That is something most master’s students will tell you. You must be able to balance your time if you are going to be able to finish the degree. It is worth it though. You will do great things and you will succeed, it just takes dedication.
Here are some tips that I wish someone had told me before starting out on the course:
- Prioritise Sleep
It is tempting to sacrifice your sleep in order to socialise at the end of a long day at university, but if you do so you will miss out on the much needed night-time recovery. This may not have been a problem at undergrad but in this masters course you need all the energy you can get. You will already be drinking lots of coffee every day if you’re anything like me – trust me, get as much sleep as you can.
If you are needing to work into the late hours then try and rearrange your day so that you work hard during the daylight hours and then get to sleep by 11. When the course starts at 9am every day and you are having to fit so many different things into your working day, you need the energy.
In the News Journalism pathway Shorthand is critical, you don’t pass the course if you don’t get your 100wpm. I think that this course is the hardest thing I have ever done, and shorthand is the hardest part. I cannot stress enough how important it is to practise, practise, practise. When you are given a place on the course, you are also told to get up to Chapter 10 in the shorthand manual. Lots of our class did not take this seriously, and to be honest, despite putting in time over the summer I did not do enough. It is important to realise that your summer is the one time that you won’t have any other work to do. Short term pain for long term gain. I will write a post more about shorthand soon, as there is so much to cover.
- Take failure in your stride
No matter if you were the editor-in-chief of your student paper, you are going to fail some weeks. Whether that’s writing the articles or doing the shorthand, or even one of the exams. Failure is natural, you aren’t a perfect journalist yet. That is why you are on the course. Remember that for every one of you that get a place on the course, many people did not. You were chosen, you deserve to be there. It is easy to feel like an imposter, that is natural. The first rule is to stop beating yourself up. I am very guilty of being my own worst critic and you just have to practise loving yourself. As cheesy as that sounds, you need to stay motivated to pass the course.
- Get a diary
If you don’t already plan your time, you are going to need to in order to stay on top of this course. You will get overwhelmed if you don’t. I bought a 2022 diary and wrote in everything every week. This lets you see where you have gaps which mean that you can use that time as you want.
- Remember why you are here
Everyone finds this course difficult; everyone struggles. We are here to become journalists, and that journey is tough. The journalism sector is very difficult to get into without training at a good masters like Cardiff. Although you might get consider dropping out – we all do at some point! – don’t, you can make it through, and you can succeed. If you do struggle, tell your tutor and they will help you.
- Enjoy it
This may sound silly after the first five bullet points – the course is hard. However, it is also SO rewarding. I have never felt the adrenaline or the pride I have felt when I have completed a good interview or finished a good article. You are learning and you are improving. You will encounter difficulties but overcoming them is something to be immensely proud of. If you want to be a journalist then the struggles you face in this course is good practise for the wider world of journalism.
- Understand that you will live and breathe the course
Life before the masters felt like you did a lot of work but be prepared to not see your friends as much as you would like. The people on the course will become like a family, socialising with them during the day can take up your social battery. That is okay – but if you are an introvert, make sure you listen to your body. If you don’t feel able to be around people that day, don’t. You need to stay on top of your health and wellbeing.
I hope you found this helpful, there is so much to unpack with the patches and the structure of the course which I will write other posts about. This course is amazing and will make you the journalists you want to be – in order to succeed you have to be able to prepare!