By Kayley Hardiman, 2nd year Journalism and New Media
I decided to study the Journalism and New Media at UL because of the opportunities that existed here that weren’t anywhere else. The main things that attracted me to the course were the co-op and Erasmus in third year which I have yet to do.
Journalism students have a full year off campus in third year to gain experience in the working world and build up our portfolios for future prospective employers. The opportunity to do Erasmus and work placement did not exist anywhere apart from UL so it had to be number one on my CAO form. Erasmus enables us to live and study abroad for a semester learning more about the culture, history and people of a completely different country. We also get the chance to see how a similar degree is taught abroad and can learn from journalism students on the course. Of course, if you’re unsure about heading off abroad for 6 months you can always study in England or Scotland which are only a stone’s throw away.
We get to study an elective as part of the course too which is similar to a specialism that we will have for our working career. The options include English Literature, Sociology, History, Languages, Economics, Politics and Public Admin and Law. So, there is something to entice every kind of student. I chose Spanish for my elective as I am interested in going to Barcelona for my Erasmus which marries my love of Journalism and Spanish all in one even when I am not at UL.
Studying a language can provide you with more options when you consider where you would like to study abroad because it can be difficult to study in a different country when you don’t speak their native language. This means that I am confident enough that if I do study in Spain I will have a good understanding of the language and have the ability to talk to the locals.
Walking into my introductory lecture I couldn’t help it. Despite the fact that I was a Big Bad Post Grad, I felt my knees quaking just as they did on my first day of being an undergraduate. Sure, this was a new college, but what of it? I was older now, far more mature, with four years of study in NUIG done, dusted and under my belt. I was a post Erasmus student for goodness sake! This should be a piece of cake. And yet, here I was, tongue stuck to the top of my mouth, afraid to say boo to a goose and desperate to get back to the safety and familiarity of my house.
Despite our expectations and despite our rationality, there’ll always be an aspect of fear and an aspect of hesitancy about putting our first foot into the unfamiliar. It can range from starting school, to starting college, to starting a new job, to moving country, to moving to the next town even. We could be as prepared as we like, and yet, place any single one of us in a situation in which we are out of our comfort zone and we shrink. We take a step back. We take a step back until somebody reaches a hand forward to help us through.
I’ll concede, that very morning of post-graduated introductions, the very first day I sat in the Concert Hall? I wanted to leave. I wanted to give up before I had even began because I was so outside my realms of comfort. To my dismay, before I could make my great escape we had been ushered into our various classes for a tour of the college. And what a blessing in disguise that was. As our 4th year guide brought us around the Main Building and became increasingly puzzled as to which way we should have been going and eventually had to ask for directions, a thought struck my mind. Nobody really knows it all. You can be prepared as you might like and you’ll still be thrown a curve ball. You’ll still need help.
Awkward and meek conversation grew into awkward and hesitant laughter which grew into earnest laughter amongst our group as the day progressed. The fear that was initially there evaporated. We were all new. We were all just as lost. We were all on the same page. And despite what various educational courses and backgrounds we had come from, we all needed to accept the help that was on offer to us. Help from other UL students when we became lost. Help to access the library. Help on where the best places to eat were. Help on where the best coffee was located. And yes, in the melee of corners and crevices in the Main Building, even help to the nearest bathroom (Which FYI, was obviously built by someone who wanted to trap a person in its confines for eternity.)
So, here I am, the Big Bad Post Grad, who is anything but. First year, Erasmus student, Masters student, Ph.D student, new lecturer. We are all equal in that we all need that little bit of help on our first day. We all need that helping hand. And despite our best efforts, despite our preparations, it’s ok to be absolutely terrified out of your wits. Because each and every person before us has been in the exact same position. Every single person in UL was once there on their first day, and you can bet your socks they were once just as out of their comfort zone as you were. I’m even looking at you Dr. Fitzgerald.
Sometimes I feel like the world is divided into two types of people: people who think it’s okay to study Arts and people who don’t. But a lot of the time these people are misinformed or their career route is so straightforward they can’t see past a college degree. If you’re doing something like nursing or teaching, the thoughts of finishing a degree, like a BA in Arts, and not having a set title might terrify you.
But an Arts degree gives you a lot of freedom! I know that seems like just something people say at open days to try and entice you into their course but it’s true. When you graduate with a Nursing degree, you’re going to go to a hospital and be a nurse. And that’s great if you want to be a nurse. But if you don’t really know what you want to do an Arts degree can be a great way to learn some valuable skills while you figure it out. But with the likes of an Arts degree, a lot of the time, it’s what you make it. With a journalism degree you can become a Journalist, Editor, Technical Writer, Public Relations, TV Journalist, Broadcaster.
That was a big thing for my dad when I was trying to decide what to do. I didn’t really have a head for maths or business or science. I went through the whole prospectus for UL, trying to find the course for me through the process of elimination. Eventually I found myself mostly left with the Arts section. I was looking at doing a BA in Arts, English and New Media, Journalism and New Media or Business. Dad’s question to each of these was: ‘what are you going to be after?’
He wanted me to say I’m doing Law so I’m going to be a lawyer or I’m going to be a primary school teacher. He didn’t get it. I actually went for Journalism in the end so when I graduate technically I’m going to be a journalist. But simply having a degree doesn’t make you a journalist. Having articles regularly published, loving writing and having an interest in what’s happening in the world around you does. Just because you have a degree as a primary school teacher, doesn’t automatically mean you have a steady stable job out of college. There’s a certain amount of work that goes into trying to sculpt a career for yourself after college that everyone has to go through no matter your degree.
Here’s a list of successful (American) people and art degrees they hold:
Howard Schultz, Starbucks CEO: B.S. in Communications, Northern Michigan University, 1975
Andrea Jung, Former Avon CEO: B.A. in English Literature, Princeton University, 1979
Michael Eisner, Former Walt Disney Company CEO: B.A. in English Literature and Theater, Denison University, 1964
Richard Plepler, HBO CEO : B.A. in Government, Franklin & Marshall College, 1981
Carly Fiorina, Former Hewlett-Packard CEO: B.A. in Medieval History and Philosophy, Stanford University, 1976
Susan Wojcicki YouTube CEO: B.A. in History and Literature, Harvard University, 1990
Conan O’Brien, TV Show Host: Bachelor of Arts in History
All college degrees are hard work, no matter what they are. You could be whizz at an Engineering course but struggle to get through English & New Media, simply because your strengths don’t lie in understanding literature. Everybody is different and if everyone was the same the world would be a boring place.
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!
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!
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.
So I know that the nagging question in your head right now is ‘Róisín, what made you choose UL??’ Well, to tell you the truth, when I was in sixth year UL was literally nowhere near my radar. I knew I wanted to do journalism, but I had my heart set on Dublin. It wasn’t until the career guidance counsellor at school told me about how good the journalism course in UL was that I reluctantly went along to the open day with my parents. I came home that day 100 percent positive that UL would be where I would get my degree.
What won me over first of all was the college itself- the grounds are amazing. Then there’s the homely sense of community in UL, it’s like a small town and everyone is so friendly.
Deciding where you want to go to college is a big decision – and a hard one too – what I think makes that decision a lot easier for everyone is the fact that if you study at UL, you get to do a semester of work experience in the field you want to work in, which can be done abroad as well. Also in my course, along with many others, we get the chance to study abroad for a semester on erasmus. Both of these things make you more employable at the end of your degree because you have experience in your line of work and also experience of different cultures.
Finally, my course. This was the final decider in me coming to UL. The more I found out about my course, the more I couldn’t wait to start. I absolutely love it, but of course there’s always bound to be one or two modules that you don’t like – especially when the course covers such a wide range, but at the end of the day we’re being prepared to work in all sectors of the media which is invaluable really!
Basically, I love everything about UL – from the university, my course, and Limerick city itself – and I can’t wait to see what else it throws at me during my years left here.
Hey there! I’m Róisín, I’m 19 and from Dungarvan in Co. Waterford. I’m a second year Journalism and New Media student in UL and my interests include napping, eating, and more napping.