There comes a moment in the life of every student when they start to wonder whether they’ve made the right choices in life. Are you studying the right subject, are you really doing all you can to succeed, should you just not sleep tonight and finish that book you took out of the library a month ago?
For journalism students, there are a few more questions that come up over and over again in our already tortured (because we’re writers, get it?) inner monologues. Should I apply for this work experience even though it will clash with my course? Should I do unpaid internships because that’s what everyone keeps telling me I should do, or should I get a part time retail job so I can pay my rent?
A number of students on my course have complained about a pressure to do as much work experience as possible. It’s not compulsory for the course – you will still graduate even if you don’t do it – but there is a certain feeling and attitude around the department, both from students and some members of staff, that if you don’t do it, “it’s simply not good enough”.
I won’t address the issue of unpaid work experience for media jobs in this post – that is a huge problem, so maybe at a later date. However, I do want to express some concerns over a different part of the course, namely the compulsory evening lectures.
I’m a bit of a bookworm and have my studious moments, so I do tend to go to as many evening lectures as possible, and boy there are a few. The university’s event calendar is to be commended. Most evening lectures are rather insightful and totally not a waste of time, and some even offer
booze refreshments afterwards.
Recently however, there are the odd few compulsory ones focusing on the media industry and how to benefit from work experience, how to start up our own projects, etc. which all sound amazing in theory. But in practice, they all boil down to this: there are basically no jobs out there, so don’t complain about unpaid internships, take what you can, and hey have you considered working in PR?
I’m pretty sure that every single journalism student at my university has understood that the first time around. No need for repetition, because frankly it’s demoralizing and by the time we get to our portfolio deadlines, we might as well not bother turning them in, right? Because we’ll end up in PR anyway.
We need a little bit of encouragement, not and endless choir of “sucks to be you”.