Didn’t get the grades? It’s okay…

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It’s okay if you didn’t get the grades you wanted or needed. You may feel like it is the end of the world but honestly, a few years down the line, you’ll be laughing at how upset it has got you. It really doesn’t matter, despite what society says. Whatever you want to do, you can get there one way or another. You don’t need straight A’s to make it to the top. 

At school, I wasn’t really much of the academic sort. I hated school so much that I hardly ever listened in lessons (doesn’t mean you shouldn’t!). I was the daydreamer type, always in my own little bubble. I remember being so angry at myself because I wasn’t “clever” that I used to hide in the toilets at school and cry my eyes out. I didn’t match up to anyone in my year.

I never ever got an A* in my life – I just didn’t have it in me. Some people don’t and that’s okay. In fact, I was a C/D borderline student at GCSE level. I knew exactly what I wanted to do ever since I was little and in a way, that saved me because I had a goal and was determined to reach it. At school, I was just so consumed with my low self esteem and that did have an effect on how I did. I was a slow learner so things like Maths and Science never really got into my brain. I enjoyed creative arts subjects like Music, Drama and English.

I did do well in my GCSE’s in most Screen Shot 2016-08-21 at 21.08.51subjects (only failed Maths) and did get the grades to do A-Levels but I decided from Year 9 that I don’t want to do A-Levels. I hate exams and most A-Level subjects are academic and theoretical. Again, I knew exactly what I wanted to do and knew how to get there so I didn’t mess around. 

In Sixth Form, I did BTEC in Media Production. Yes, a BTEC. That doesn’t mean it’s any less than A-Levels and it doesn’t mean it’s for “dumb” people. BTEC is just as valuable as A-Levels. It’s vocational and I see it as a qualification for people who know exactly what they want to do. I didn’t see the point in doing academic courses for two years if I don’t think it would help me in the future. I would be wasting my time. 

And yes, you can get into university with a BTEC – I did. I got 2:1 in my creative based degree and look where I am now – not to sound like I am boasting but I am a full trained journalist and I learnt more by going out into the world and working (which was part of my degree) than in school. Literally at the end of my degree, I cried my eyes out in happiness because I proved myself to people that you can get to the very top without amazing grades. If I can do it guys, so can you. 

So if you received your A-Level or any other results last week and are getting your GCSE results next week, remember that whatever you got/get, it doesn’t define you or your future. You tried your best and that is all that matters. You don’t have to know what you want to do, but just don’t rely on your grades entirely. If you know what you want to do and didn’t get the grades to do it – trust me, there is always a way to get there – it may take you a different route and may take more time, but there is no rush. You will get there one day. All I can say from my experience is to try your best but don’t let your results define who you are.

IWD2015: British Muslim Women + Breaking Gender Cultural Norms

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I wouldn’t say I am a feminist but I do think strongly about the rights of women in the Islamic/South Asian culture. I am a young Muslim/Asian women from the UK, who appreciates her cultural roots but also has a western way of thinking. As a South Asian women living in the UK, I am expected to live the ‘traditional’ way – such as not working outside the domestic space, not studying to degree level, expected to get married as early as possible, expected to act rather ‘fragile’ ‘timid’ and hide away from men and never ever stay out late, just because I am a women.

From a young age, I always had a passion for the creative arts. But working in a field like that is ‘wrong’ for Asian/Muslim women. I realised there were not enough ethnic minorities working in the media. Why was that? Because of the culture issue. I wanted to change that. So despite all the criticism I got; that I should either get a “real job” like a doctor, lawyer or not work altogether, get married and become a housewife – well, I decided to go against that and pursue my dream and inspire others like myself to try and do the same.

I think a lot of Asian women, do feel oppressed but do not like to admit it due to fear. I can admit that I did feel oppressed at certain times of my life. I feared that if I did something rather ‘westernised’ I would get looked down on. And of course, I have been criticised but my whole point is that – going against your cultural norms does not mean you are disobeying your culture or your religion. Of course not.

Regarding education, I studied what I wanted to study and not what is expected of me due my culture, like I have seen others do because they were scared. Going through college and university was hard. Not only did I get little support for the course I chose to study, but also going through depression, social anxiety and an eating disorder and being in hospital at the same time. It was incredibly hard indeed.

Finishing my degree and getting my dream job at the BBC was the icing on the cake. It was like all the criticisms I faced was so worth it. I got a job, I am earning and the family are proud – despite their lack of support and trust whilst I was studying. Did I just prove them wrong? I think I did.

Breaking cultural norms is one of the hardest things you could ever do but I did it. People used to sneer at me when I would say ‘I want to work in the media.’ Now? Well, they are shocked that I made it and surprisingly inspired just because I am women. If I was a man, this would not be a big deal at all.

My message to all young women, especially within the Asian/Islamic culture – if you have a passion to do something in life that perhaps is ridiculed by family due to cultural norms – please do pursue that passion and prove to them that just because you are going against that aspect of your culture, does not mean you are going against the culture itself.

I fought my way through this and made it happen.

Make equality happen. 

How To Find Work Experience Placements/Internships

ImageThey say experience matters over qualifications but I think both of them go hand in hand depending on what career field you are aiming for. My field is within the media and in this industry, you need experience more so than qualifications.

I have been on many work placements and internships and people often ask me how I actually secure them, as I went from one placement to the next very quickly. In 2012, it seemed like I never stopped working and chasing those dream placements. I have completed work placements at BBC Radio 4, Absolute Radio, Channel 4, Whistledown Productions for BBC Radio and Global Radio – LBC 97.3 as well as work shadowing placements at BBC’s Radio 1, 2 and 6 Music. I completed all those placements in the space of 9 months and to many people and to myself, that is pretty impressive. So, how did I get all those placements and what tips can I give you to secure one yourself? Keep reading to find out!

How I Secured My Work Placements

I have always wanted to work for the BBC ever since I was little. That is like the dream. I wanted to work at BBC Radio (any station) for my Year 10 work experience but that was proving to be rather difficult. You could say that I was not that creative then and also not that confident. However, it was a dream that I was determined to achieve so I kept on applying and applying via the BBC Careers website and got a lot of rejections but I still never gave up.

When I was 18, I got into university to study a media related course and within 4 months of being on that course, I got my first ever BBC work experience placement at Radio 4 for one month, which quite literally changed my life. I guess you could say that being on an undergraduate course at university helps you to secure those placements because it shows that you are studying the field and therefore employers are more likely to hire you for a week or two. Luckily for me, there was a module solely on work placements and we were encouraged to find a work placement and then evaluate it in an essay form after we completed the placement. I did mine on Radio 4.

ImageThis is a picture I took of the old BBC Broadcasting House where Radio 4/Radio 3 broadcasts from as well as the BBC Radio Theatre.

ImageA picture I took of the Channel 4 building in Horseferry Road, London during my placement. This was during the London Olympics/Paralympics hence the Paralympics ‘4’.

ImageI did some interviews and reporting for LBC News with this LBC microphone.

Throughout my time at Broadcasting House (Radio 4) I made a lot of amazing contacts. I was determined to get into Radio 1 and so someone kindly gave me their Radio 1 contact. Through that, I got to work shadow Fearne Cotton’s show on Radio 1 for two days which was absolutely surreal. I then made more contacts and got work shadowing placements at Radio 2 and 6 Music. I got my LBC placement through a contact too, but I applied for Absolute Radio and Channel 4, and made sure my application form stood out and had a unique twist to it and I got them!

So, my main tips to get a work placement are…

Never Give Up!

You will get rejected. That is a part of life. The main thing is to never give up. If you truly want something in life, you should never give up because speaking from experience, if you keep trying, one day it will happen. So keep applying!

Make Your Application Stand Out

Making your application stand out is often always said but how do you make it stand out exactly?. Well, for me, I decided to add a unique touch to mine. For example, in my Channel 4 application, I said that in my culture, the media industry is looked down upon and there is not many Muslim/Asian people working in the media and I said that I wanted to change that. If I was part of the C4 HR department, I would be pretty impressed by that sentence because I said that I wanted to make a difference and I guess they liked that and offered me a chance to work there. So try to add something in the application that shows how you will benefit from the placement.

University? 

This is obviously optional and university is not for everyone but for me, I really do think that university helped me get those work placements, or at least the first one. If you are at university,  go to your careers departement and ask them for help on CV’s, application forms etc… If you are not at university, try to do something else as a hobby that can show your interest in the field you are applying for. For example, if you want to work for a magazine, start a blog and state that you love writing and your blog could be the proof.

Clean Up Your CV

Your CV is the most important thing. Clean it up. Update it and keep it simple. Tailor it to the position you are applying for. Get it checked by someone.

Contacts, Contacts, Contacts! 

NETWORK. Make contacts. That is the main thing that got me most of my placements. I made a lot of contacts and they recommended me people I could talk to. Email them showing your interest in their company, do your research and ask to meet for a quick chat. Keep in touch with them. You must make contacts because you never know, in a few years down the line, they could give you your dream job.

On top of all that, I think passion and determination is what you need  to secure work placements that actually will benefit you and help you in your journey to your career development.

Leveson report: Cameron is not convinced

David Cameron himself called for an inquiry into culture, practices and ethics regarding the British Press, yet when Lord Justice Leveson released the 2000 page report today – which took over a year, Cameron seemingly decided to disagree with idea of a statutory underpinning within the press and avoided the consequences. He is siding with the press, which is not a surprise as former editor of the News Of The World Rebecca Brooks is or at least was, a very good friend of his. The fact that Cameron does not like what Leveson has appointed to happen to the British Press, shows just how close he and is Conservative colleagues were to Rupert Murdoch.

Cameron appointed the enquiry in the first place with the idea and belief that the time taken to produce the report would divert the main issue of the inquiry away. However, this has severely caused a backlash on him as the results from the report showed ghastly behaviour, criminality and such distasteful information. This was brought into the light and Cameron cannot seem to comprehend the information as many things written in the report goes against what he believes, meaning he was in on it and does not see it as a problem.

The Coalition is now split in half regarding the Leveson report as Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Labour Leader Ed Miliband backed Leveson’s ideas and the future of British newspapers. Miliband wants a strong regulated press because he understands and knows just how easy people can lose trust in newspapers and is convinced that we are living in a rather confused and disordered era in relation to journalism. Having a strict regulatory body keeps the press away from incoming danger and this inquiry and report has showed and clearly stated that the press and politicians should not get too close. Cameron still looks to the 1980’s side of the ideological ways. Things have changed and yet Cameron fails to see this.

Cameron is hoping that the pressure he is under will be consoled if newspapers set up a new regulator to meet the principles set out in today’s report.