How switching courses changed my University experience

By Jennifer Purcell

The transition from secondary school to University can be quite daunting, after months of studying and preparation for the Leaving Cert, you’ve finally got your CAO offer and its off to college you go!

But what happens when you don’t like your course?

To my complete shock, I was offered New Media and English in UL, having completed a Fetac course in Cork.  I jumped at the offer without hesitation, finally getting into 3rd level education!

While most people in my course absolutely loved it, I couldn’t get stuck into it. I was never a fan of literature or poetry and dreaded the fear of failing! I decided to be 100% honest with my parents and told them I would end up really struggling or dropping out!

Fortunately,  this happens now and again at UL, and they are very accommodating to students that aren’t happy with their course. No one wants to see you fail or drop out so know that there are other options.

I switched to Journalism and New Media in week 6 and absolutely LOVE it! Now heading into my final year of my degree,  I’m glad I went with my gut and explored other options.

Journalism and New Media and New Media and English have quite similar traits, and a lot of the same classes. The journalism course, however,  is more catered to those looking for a career in print media, TV or radio. It’s a very hands on course , with lots of projects and group work. That might sound intimidating but it’s a lot of fun if you’re an aspiring journo!

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Journalism & New Media students Marisa Kennedy, Sarah Tatley, Jennifer Purcell, Seán Lynch and Micheala Keating. The group took part in Darkness into Light after their successful fundraising campaign – run by Jennifer – who acted as Chairperson of the DIL 2015 sub-committee.

As part of our course, you’re taken to the court house to do real life court reports, you attend council meetings and pull the best stories from the bunch, you create radio packages, news bulletins and have a chance to get your work published in national newspapers!

Co-op is probably the most exciting element of this course, because you get the opportunity to work on the front line, hands on,  knees deep in shorthand and editing. Whether you chose radio, print media or you’re lucky enough to secure a stunt in RTE, you’ll gain invaluable experience!

You never forget the feeling of opening the local newspaper and seeing your by-line in black and white for the first time! Or the feeling of accomplishment after putting together a three minute radio documentary that you spent hours editing. You get a thrill from deadline day and the 5pm rush, you cringe at the sound of your own voice on radio but are secretly proud nonetheless!

Journalism and New Media opens a window of opportunity for aspiring journalists. I am heading into my final year having worked as part of the Limerick Leader team for 6 months, with a hundred and one bylines under my belt, having being nominated for Journalist of the year – national press, in the Student media awards, and having won the Headline Journalism award 2016, for a two-page feature I did on suicide and mental health.

The journalism course requires a lot of work outside of class hours. To be a successful journalists you need to built a portfolio, and networking is essential! Most of my peers work within the media outside of college,  whether it’s part-time on local radio, blogging, or contributing to online websites.  While getting good grades is important, building up your CV is crucial to ensure you secure a job in media when you graduate.

The best thing is, you’re finishing with so many options, so many routes you can go down, whether you’ve a passion for the airwaves or a flair for investigative journalism. Never in a million years did I think I’d be confident speaking live on air, but now I have my own show on ULFM!

Doing assignments and projects isn’t all bad, when you love what you do!

JenniferPurcell

Jennifer Purcell is a 4th year BA Journalism & New Media student at the University of Limerick. She was Nominated for Journalist of the year in the 2016 student media awards. You can read her personal blog here. Follow her Twitter account at @Jenniferpurc.

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