Monday, 16 January 2012

Keeping up to speed...

As I have mentioned before on this blog, I have aspirations to go into a journalism career.

And as I have also explained previously, an arts degree is simply not enough (certainly in my experience) if you want to walk into a newspaper (or magazine, radio, TV, etc) office straight after graduation.

It's now over six months since that sunny afternoon in Reading and following months of hard work and acquiring expert knowledge of the catering industry, my path is now a lot more focussed en route to becoming a journalist.

I mentioned briefly in my previous post that I was just about start on a sports journalism course in Bournemouth, and I'm now a week and a bit into it.

It's certainly all very interesting and it is times like these when perhaps you don't realise how complex the job is.

I'm finding that although university equips you with certain skills, like paraphrasing pieces of text or ensuring your time management skills are, well, on time, it doesn't really prepare you for any specific profession.

Now I appreciate that in one way that is a good thing, and it allows you to keep your options open, and I also did not expect my degree to do that.

However, some of the things that I am now learning, such as shorthand and media law, are the real nitty-gritty aspects to the job which are all ignored.

And it is these areas which are arguably the most important.

It's not the fault of universities, it is a fault that exists in the system itself.

I'm not going to get into a debate about how useful uni is, and I am not for one moment complaining about it.

I had what will probably be the best four years of my life there and I wouldn't change it for the world.

All I am saying is that if you think you will walk into a job straight after it and believe the rest will take care of itself then I'm afraid you're in for a real shock.

Right, back to the journalism course.

I am on an intensive, six month course, which is based in the Daily Echo offices in Bournemouth.

Being based in and amongst the base of a newspaper is certainly far more inspiring I imagine than stuck in a room in the middle of nowhere.

You really get the buzz of the newsroom every time you walk through it.

The course is run by 'Up to Speed' training organisation, which does exactly as its name suggests.

So far we have covered quite a bit of material, ranging from a talk about the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act to knowing all about the powers the role of the monarchy in today's society.

So as I said it's fascinating stuff (well most of it, really) and I look forward to putting it all into practice one day.

Today we went out into the town to try and find some potential sources for stories.

Being a Monday morning there wasn't too much around, apart from some kids who I reckon should have been in school, some rather empty buses going along, and the fact that the Christmas lights still hadn't been taken down yet - a criminal offence seeing as we are already halfway through January!

Nothing overly exciting then but hey, you're not always going to have fascinating, mind boggling things to investigate!

That's it for now, if you have any comments or suggestions about my blog, then feel free to provide feedback as it is greatly appreciated!

Thanks for reading!

Friday, 6 January 2012

Happy New Year and all that...

So it's a new year and although it's probably too late to still be wishing people a happy new year, I'm still going to do it. Happy New Year.

Anyway, it's actually very convenient as it gives me an excuse to update my blog. Yes, I do realise that it is now five months since I last added to it, but as the saying goes 'better late than never'.

I'm not going to bore you with every detail in my life over the past five months, as, suffice to say, it really hasn't been that exciting. But I will summarise some of the more interesting bits.

My last blog was during August, so by that stage the summer was nearing its end. I did manage to get away though and spent a really nice week back in France, in Orleans where I worked as part of my university course during the 2009/10 academic year. Nothing much had changed, just that the 2nd tramline was making good progress in disrupting the town as much as possible. However, it was still a great week and it was so nice to see the town again. I have so many great memories from there that despite the fact that there isn't that much there to do or see, it is a town that I will always have a great affection for.

Orleans cathedral - complete with disruptive work in the front on the new tramline
After France then it was back to reality and the 24/7 search to find a job. As I think I have previously stated, journalism is my goal (in particular sports) as a career. However, walking into a journalism job is far from easy as I discovered, and was told - numerous times. I am still told this, but as far as I am concerned there isn't a job which you can simply walk into. You have to do research and preparation and hopefully this will lead to what you want. Sports journalism is a profession no harder or easier to break into than any others, so these comments do not put me off one bit.

Going back to the job search then, and there wasn't much to report. I received more than a few rejection letters and e-mails but this did not deter me. Sure, you get frustrated but it's not the end of the world. To cut a long story short, I decided to apply for a sports journalism course to get the necessary qualification (that all journalists need), in the hope that this would help me get a job. I applied, and was successful, so will be starting that this coming Monday.

In the mean time then, I tried to get as much work as possible in whatever field (not literally) - for both experience and money. In terms of journalistic experience, I got into some blogging for an online site and thanks to it I know a lot more about memory foam mattresses. See, it's all good experience! I will put up the link on here when it goes live.

I also did some work experience at local newspapers - the Southern Daily Echo in Southampton and Bournemouth's Daily Echo and from these made some useful contacts which may be beneficial in the future, you never know.

Finally there's the work I did (and still do) in the catering industry. I was kp (not Kevin Pietersen, for cricket fans) in the kitchen at a local French restaurant. The term 'kp' means a kitchen porter, which is essentially just a posh name for someone who does the washing up. So, that was me, a washer-upper. It was nothing too inspiring, but I did get some good food out of it and it was a nice place to work. For anyone interested, and I do recommend going there, here's a link to the restaurant:

That's not the only experience that I've had of the catering industry as I work in a local cafe too. It's more than just kp-ing, as I do a bit of everything there. It's good because you get a bit of variety and as it's local I can just walk there, so very convenient. Again, thoroughly recommend a visit, and you'll get excellent service.

And that's about it then really, for the past five months in my life. On Monday, I start a sports journalism course down in Bournemouth which will last until mid-July. It covers a range of things - from shorthand (journalist language) to public affairs, and of course sports stuff, so interviewing, match reporting, things like that. It's going to be a challenge but I am looking forward to it.

The skills that I will hopefully learn will hopefully put me in a much better position in the job market too. This is the extra motivation - I know that this is leading to something, rather than just some experience that could help me in any job. Additonally, there's the small matter of the Olympics too which provides me (and journalists alike) with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to report on such an event in England. If that's not encouragement then I don't know what is.

I am in the process of starting a blog on the Olympics too, but I'm just finalising a few bits. But a link will be up for that very soon.

If you've made it this far, thank you very much for reading!

It definitely won't be five months until my next update...that's a promise.

All the best for 2012!

Sunday, 7 August 2011

It is the summer of 2011..

A few weeks have passed since the last venture onto my blog so I thought it was about time to update things.

The summer teaching job which I had is now all finished. I worked for over four weeks which at times felt like they would never end but others weren't so bad! All in all it was a great experience, and it was enjoyable most of the time. These summer schools can be quite hectic, not only dealing with the kids but making sure the lessons are relatively entertaining too and ensuring everyone's happy. Luckily my ability as a stand-up is improving all the time so in seconds they're always in fits of laughter. Yes..really (laughing, not having fits).

Since I finished that it's been a relatively quiet, relaxing summer should be. Had the pleasure of going down to Portsmouth to see a few friends and to see how much it had changed since my departure which seems an eternity ago now..well it is nearly a year. There was nothing really to report, aside from the fact the old Donnay shop is now a Jamie's Italian. See, Pompey's getting classy.

These last few days have seen the #jloweekend take place. Yes this was to do with jlo (the real one) but it wasn't quite a weekend but it felt like one so it was one. If that makes sense at all. Basically I had the pleasure of hosting Jess, Hannah, James and Gavin for much amusement in and around my local area. Luckily the weather held too so we managed to do all the delights of the area like go to the seaside, see some ponies in the New Forest, and sample Bournemouth on a Friday night.

Much to everyone's amazement I also ate fish and you do when you're by the sea. Now I'm not going to go into a long essay, suffice to say the only thing I eat from salt water is cod. And with chips that's fine. All other types of fish or seafood can live as far down in the sea as possible and never surface. Seriously it makes me feel ill just thinking about all the other fish. True story. Dat.

James, Gavin, Jess and Hannah on the beach for the #jloweekend
Finally, the job hunt is still continuing, applications and C.Vs have gone off in various directions across the country but to no avail as of yet. I'll keep trying. As I said in a previous post, life isn't meant to be easy. I like a challenge. Just like my army days. But nothing will beat the front line in 'nam all those years ago.  This job thing will be a piece of cake. Just a bloody hard one to cut into.

Ciao for now X

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Now time for the big bad world..

It's been quite a few weeks since I last updated my blog so I thought it was about time to write a new one.

So what's new? University is all over, completely. No more student life, no more exams, no more education. It's only gradually sinking in that I've got a degree and I won't go back in September to an establishment to continue my education.

Graduation took place nearly two weeks ago now. It was a nice occasion, albeit rather brief as it seemed to go so quickly! The ceremony itself was literally only half an hour as I was one of the last people to enter the hall. Following it was the inevitable request for photo after photo from everyone there. Not that I minded though; the only slight disappointment is that I only managed to take around 20 for myself!

Afterwards I went (along with family) to the Forbury hotel..Reading's finest hotel to sample the delights of their afternoon tea. And yes it was rather delightful, the scones and cakes were delicious.

And then that was it. Really it. My experience at Reading was finished for good. Safe to say that 3 of the best years of my life were spent in the town. Some amazing experiences and some amazing people are what made it so special and I've got so many memories to keep with me for the future.

I could probably write a whole lot more to say what I've learnt during my time at university but I'll save that for another time. Perhaps. Don't hold me to it.

Finally, I'm now into the real world now, and as the title of this blog suggests, it's big and bad (the world, not the blog). In an ideal world I'd already have a job as a sports journalist but I'm unfortunately nowhere near that stage as of yet. But I guess it gives me more of a challenge. Who said life was easy? Definitely not me.

So I'm currently teaching at a summer school down in Bournemouth which is quite good fun; it's all rather chaotic and although I don't think teaching's ultimately for me, I'm giving it a good go! Best bit though was definitely some of the kids' leaving ceremony on Friday: not the fact that they were leaving because they were great students, but just the fact that it made James and I feel like true celebrities as we were inundated with demands for photos and signings alike. Now I know how people like JLo feel every day. Come to think of it, bad comparison as I know that feeling all the time but you get my point.

That'll do for now then, plenty more to say but that's for another time...oo the suspense! I'm sure you'll survive, although it could be rather exciting.....X

Friday, 17 June 2011

Uni's almost over...

So, as you can tell from the title, my university experience here in Reading is about to come to a close. Four years packed full of so many memories has reached the end.

Exams have now been and gone and are firmly a thing of the past. It's now three weeks since I did my last one and yesterday I got my result (a 2:1). Was very nervous for about half an hour before I went and got them but in the end it was all a bit of a let down. First I went to the wrong place, then just saw my name on a piece of paper and that was it. No fancy colours, to be honest it was a tad disappointing. And there was no one else around. It was odd.

Is a 2:1 what I wanted? In a word yes, obviously a first would have been great but being realistic, I think that it's a fair outcome and I'm happy with it.

This now ends my university chapter in life, and it's now time to move on to the next challenge - a job. I've already applied to one and had a rejection but I think I would have been extremely lucky to get offered something after my first application. Although hopefully I won't be getting used to the rejection feeling too many times over the next few months. Fingers crossed.

I've already been getting some experience already in media which is what I want to go into. Thanks to the Reading Post, I got 3 weeks' work to give me a feel of what I ought to get used to. Got my name in the paper a few times as well which is always nice and no doubt my first steps to stardom. Soon I'll be on that idol show. Or whatever it is on itv these days. I reckon that's the pinnacle of anyone's life.

If you do want to see some of my work (and let's face it, have you really got anything better to do right now?) then here's the link:

I've also got some teaching coming up, and also some more experience at a couple of other papers over the summer post-uni, as well as hopefully a trip to France so I'll be pretty busy. And that's along with applying for as many jobs as possible in the hope that I get chosen. It's like Willy Wonka (sort of), and I'm the golden ticket, someone just needs to find me.

Finally, there's the annual Reading Uni Summer Ball tonight to look forward to. Judging by recent weather it's going to be a pretty sodden affair but I'm sure Ellie Goulding will hot things up. I'm pretty honoured to be seeing her for the second time in a matter of months having spotted her in Q bar in town. Also, if she's good enough to play for the Queen and co I'm sure she'll get a good reception here. (No champagne though or whatever royalty have these days).

That'll do for now then. Any comments/feedback much appreciated as always.

Have a good weekend! X

Monday, 9 May 2011

The fun and games have started...

It's been while since I last updated this blog, so I thought it was about time to blog again.

So, the Easter holidays are now very much in the past, and the summer term here at uni is already flying by. Into week three already and the prospect of finishing my time in Reading is starting to sink in.

Anyway, as my title suggests, the fun and games of exams started today for me. It was my first of five exams, and my last ever French language one. All of the past three and a half years work on the French language culminated in the three hour exam this morning. It certainly didn't go as I hoped it would, but there you go, what's done is done! I still do not see much use in writing a story from a comic book in future life and it was definitely far from comic earlier on today.

I call this period fun and games because it is exactly what it is. Secretly, I reckon people actually enjoy doing exams, everyone gets together and learns stuff, it's certainly not revision. And the exams themselves, it makes great convo, asking each other what questions did you do, saying that you never want to go near a book or the library ever again, or even, that was just the best two hours of my life. Add to that the weather's nice and Bob's your uncle (for some of you I realise, not all).

Other than exam stuff, there's not been too much else going on. Good to see all the Royal Wedding stuff has died down now, although I'm still waiting for the discounted tea-towels. I need one to add to my collection. Or even start it. Football season is coming to an exciting conclusion as well; very nice to see Reading still competing post season and looking forward to hopefully seeing them in the play-off Wembley. It would be perfect end to my time here at uni in Reading, so is it, in the words of Tinie Tempah, 'written in the stars, a million miles away?' I I hope!

I won't go any more into football, since it may not appeal to all, but if you are interested in reading my thoughts further on my local teams, I'd like to point you in the direction of my other blog which I have just started up:

Right think that will do for now, enjoy the summer and good luck with exams if you're in the middle of them! 


Friday, 8 April 2011

The Easter holidays, the time for...nothing but work

The Easter holidays are here once again for another year, and suddenly I find myself nearly halfway through them already. They're going ridiculously quickly and as soon as I know it I hopefully will have graduated and probably looking for a job.

The sun is out though which is always good, and since there are several palm trees around my house it does sometimes feel like I'm in Hawaii...or wherever they have these sorts of trees.

Sunshine also means everyone believes summer is here..and here to stay. Therefore, the shades and flip-flops are out but will no doubt be put away within a week when the traditional rain will return. Standard. I never fall for it. Well maybe the shades..and the flip-flops for that matter.

So what have I been doing these past weeks? Well the one word answer is work..mainly compromising of my dissertation. Nearly there in terms of the word count but still feels like ages to go. Officially I have less than three weeks to do it so I don't really have much choice but to get it done.

Then there's the small matter of revision to do. I really don't see the point of doing it so far in advance because you'll just forget it. Also, the more you know, the more you forget so there's no point starting too early.

Away from work then, I went to see Reading v Portsmouth last weekend. My two teams, talk about split loyalties. But Pompey just edge the words of so many fans 'Pompey will always have a place in my heart'. Sad but true. Pretty good match as well, shame about the end result (Reading won 2-0) but good on Reading, play-offs are a real possibility. So that means Wembley..just maybe..

That'll do for now then. Enjoy the weekend!