Tips for being a journalism student at university

Postgraduate journalism courses build up great analytical skills, but there are some good ways for developing them as a newer student.
James Davis
James Davis
Team PostgradAustralia
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Journalism can allow you to uncover the truth about any number of societal problems. Getting to the level of skill where you’re able to do that however can be tricky! In this article, we’ll go over a few basic tips you can employ to improve your life as a journalism student throughout university. You’ll likely have thought about some if not all of these before, but you may learn something new as we describe them.

Constantly stay abreast of the news

It’s logical that aspiring to provide the news comes with the prerequisite of understanding it. By exposing yourself regularly to varied sources of news media, you’ll not only understand more about the world as events unfold, but also the journalistic techniques employed by those already working for top papers and magazines. The contrasting literary styles will also be of great help in developing your own. A writer for The Economist may write very differently to someone at Al Jazeera for example. Even internally speaking, the writers at any given publication are likely to vary in style. By staying on top of the news, you’re staying on top of goals to aim for when you one day become a professional journalist.

Start a blog and catalogue local issues

Why not get a jumpstart on your future career by documenting and reporting on local events? It doesn’t matter how insignificant those events might seem to you. What matters is you’re putting your journalistic skills to use in a manner future employers may find quite appealing. Even if it really is something trivial, be critical of it like a journalist ought to be. Are all parties telling the truth here? Is there evidence to the contrary? Hey, the story being ultimately trivial could even work in your favour. If you’re able to weave a compelling narrative that features some sort of problem, no matter the size, you’ll definitely get the attention of employers. It’ll be a good use of your time.

Take whatever writing opportunities you can

You’ll be evaluated by employers based on your writing ability as well as investigative skills. It’s thereby imperative to have some on display! Granted, the blog idea is a great way of doing this, but organically picking up traffic on a blog in this day and age is very difficult. What we’re suggesting with this tip is writing for things like student magazines or doing whatever freelance work you can pick up. Building up that portfolio will put you in good stead for when you graduate.

Networking

Yes, this old chestnut! Just like with many other professions, networking is paramount for success. Reach out to professors to see if they can recommend anyone to speak with. See if you can find local networking events; student societies at Australian universities sometimes book these. If not, why not join the student societies themselves and see who they know? Maybe they have a great contact list? Being proactive and making relationships is a great way to spend your time at university alongside the other things we’ve mentioned here. After all, what good is doing all this preparatory work if you can’t get a job interview to have it seen?

Hopefully this article has given you some ideas as to how you might spend your remaining time at university. There are certainly plenty of creative ways to distinguish yourself in this very competitive field. It’s just a matter of finding them! Wherever you take your qualification and whatever you decide to do however, we wish you all the best.