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8 things I Wish I’d Known Before I Did My Postgraduate Diploma

Here are 8 things I wish someone had told me before I completed my Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism at Cardiff University:

1.Nothing Beats Seeing Your Name in Print

The first time you get to say you’re a *real* journalist is pretty sweet. You’ll probably rush out and buy half a dozen copies of the magazine and leave them hanging around your flat. The page with your by-line on it will just happen to be open, naturally. Your mum will buy up Gloucestershire’s entire print run and will tag you in gushing images on Facebook.

You’ll be so motivated you’ll pitch more and more until you get a yes. That feeling is a great reminder of why you’re doing this.

2. Don’t Be a Prat

It’s one of my main philosophies in life, but it’s especially true here. Today’s coursemates are tomorrow’s colleagues – do you really want to be remembered as the idiot?

Many of the people I met on my course are still friends today – we’ve helped each other out with jobs, freelance work and more. We also had so much fun on the course – so make an effort and get to know people. You’ve already got one thing in common, after all.

3. Shorthand WILL Get Easier

If you’re going to pay a lot of £££ to get your diploma, it makes sense to get as much as you can out of it. Correct? So don’t give up at the first sign of a struggle.

Shorthand is a skill you can put on your CV that will show commitment and dedication (I still use it today). Shorthand along to anything: Eastenders, podcasts, your housemate’s chat. You will get better. It will get easier.

4. Get Used to Late Nights (Working)

The pub will be an unknown establishment to you during this course. Things are about to get intense. You’ll need to put the hours in to stay on top.

But there are loads of things that will make this better: you’ll bond with coursemates quickly with a competitive game of ‘who worked latest’. Your local pizza delivery man will know the way to your classroom unprompted. You’ll save tons of cash you would have spent in the pub.

5. Eventually, Someone Will Pay You

In exchange for writing beautiful words, someone is going to pay you with real, shiny, gold coins.

Of course this will be after you’ve written some stuff for free to build yourself a credible portfolio.  You’ll find out how to write a stunning pitch and how to approach editors via email. You’ll need to broaden your horizons and grab work experience in places you won’t have considered, but you’ll get there.

6. You’ll Get it Wrong Along the Way

On pretty much every work experience placement, you’ll get stuff wrong. It’s how you deal with it that matters. Chances are, it’s no biggie, but own it and move on from it. No one else will be thinking about it as much as you are.

7. You’ll Give Your Verdict on ANY Media Law Cases

Your media law training will give you the confidence to tell EVERYONE your opinion on the latest paparazzi/tabloid scandal, with some casually dropped in references to the minutiae of what is and isn’t in the public interest.

People will probably stop listening after 30 seconds. But you’ll still be excited, because this is your thing now.

8. It’s Not Forever

In between your coursework, lectures, part-time job and freelance work, remember this: you will not always be this tired or this stressed.

You’re aiming high now to make sure you have options towards the end of the course. So for now, socialising has to take a back seat. Get to bed early, have lots of baths and go easy on yourself.


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