If I compare what I have learnt from sitting in a lecture theatre all year to going out for one week with a local newspaper then you will understand how valuable learning on the job is.
About a month ago a story came up about a girl in Inverness who had spoken out about her difficulty of finding a job. She had spent four years at university and gained a degree; then found herself claiming jobseekers allowance. This annoyed me because at the time the story came out I was on work experience at Radio Clyde in Glasgow, sitting in an office, unpaid, while my flatmates lay in their beds. I can tell you exactly where this girl went wrong…
Since finishing my first year at university two months ago I have been desperate to try out my new found knowledge in a real life work environment. And that’s exactly what I have been doing.
Having just completed a week at my local newspaper ‘TheNorthern Scot’ I feel it is important to tell you what I have learned and how all of what I am talking about ties in with the Citizen Relay project I am working with currently.
At the ‘Scot I was able, with the trust of the editor, to act as a reporter. I was given story leads and told to find out as much as possible on the topic and create good, readable, local articles that were then published in the weekly paper.
Now, I am not going to lie to you, finding placements like that is difficult and involves a lot of networking. I had previously been to the same paper two years before after making links with the editor through various projects I was involved in to do with the high school I went to. However, this means that when I went back again I was trusted more and I was able to evaluate what I had learnt in my first year at university.
Now, Citizen Relay, a project I have become involved in because I want to gain more experience, learn more, put what I have already learned into practice, network and just do something fun. I am not going to lie, I am not the biggest sports fan ever, and I have not even been the slightest bit excited for the Olympics. But this project is so much more than that.
In Scotland, we like to celebrate. At the moment I can prove that by telling you to look in any paper. Jubilee, jubilee, jubilee. Bunting is going up in towns, float parades are happening, tea picnics and concerts in the park – you name it, it will be happening next weekend. The Olympic torch will be no different.
Communities are preparing to celebrate the Olympic torch, whether it passes through their street or not. Large areas are creating their own relays so they don’t get left out and cities are hosting great big Olympic style parties. Local papers and radio stations are busy filling up their photographer’s schedules, reporters diaries and what’s happening sections.
One thing I learnt whilst on work experience is that these local papers are understaffed and under pressure from the companies that own them. They don’t have the resources or the space or the time to give everybody the media attention that they deserve. This is where Citizen Relay can help.
The project can cover events that the mainstream media can’t, it can get people who need the experience and want to take part, be a part. It can link small communities with larger media organisations and it can bring everyone in Scotland together. We are all celebrating the same thing, so why not celebrate together?
My degree at university isn’t going to get me a job later in life; it is only going to help me. It’s only a small part of it. To be successful, to go and get the job of my dreams I am going to need to gain more experience, more contacts and take part in projects like Citizen Relay as well. This is where this girl in Inverness went wrong.
At the end of the day, I want to be a reporter. So I am going to report and get myself and other people heard as much as possible.