Didn’t get the grades? It’s okay…

Screen Shot 2016-08-21 at 21.41.23

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.

My University Experience

I went to City University London to study a Foundation Degree (two years) and a Bachelor of Arts in Creative Industries.

2011 – 2014.

First year

The first year was rather scary because it was new. The transition from sixth form to university is such a big change and I found it rather overwhelming at first, especially because I still lived at home. Making friends was really difficult. During the first few months, I felt like university wasn’t for me and I was actually thinking about dropping out. I don’t drink, I don’t party and the whole university stereotype is basically drinking and partying and I felt like I did not fit in. After talking to a lot of people about thinking of dropping out, I decided to stick at it for a few months and see how it goes. I didn’t make a good set of friends until I was 5 months into the course and this is when I started to enjoy university. I started getting involved with the media team at university and did a bit of reporting for my student radio station.

With regards to the course itself, the first year was very practical and I enjoyed most of the practical modules. I got a lot of 2:1’s and 1st. Because university essays are rather different to school and college essays, I found that difficult and during the first year, my essay grades were not that great. I found referencing really difficult and I found the structure really difficult too. Also, I did not attend any seminars because during my first year, my social anxiety was rather awful and participating in class seemed terrifying. I got a bit more confident after completing my work placement at the BBC and when I went back to university after that, I really quite enjoyed it and felt really confident and was very excited for the next two years. I finished that year with a 2:1, which I was happy about.

Second Year

The second year was so much better. In fact, out of the three years, I felt like the second year I came out of my shell a bit more (which impacted my third year). My course was part music events management course and we got to manage and organize a music gig in the Roundhouse in Camden. I was into music a lot before but during my second year that kind of died down. I developed a passion for news, broadcasting and journalism so for that gig, I decided to join the broadcast team and challenge my filming and visual mixing skills, which I absolutely loved.

During my second year, I decided to write for the student magazine CityOnTopic. I wrote a few articles for the Politics section and it was rather lovely seeing my writing published in print.

My second year grades were absolutely amazing. I got a lot of 1st‘s and high 2:1’s as I did work very hard indeed. Again, I did enjoy the practical modules more than the academic ones. At the end of this year, I officially completed my foundation degree and achieved a high 2:1…and graduated!

Third Year

We had a choice whether we wanted to go onto the third year or not. I wanted a full degree so I decided to go ahead with the third year. This year was crucial and so much more difficult than the other two years. Starting third year was so overwhelming because I soon realized how much work I needed to do. In fact, it did make my anxiety rather worse but I realized I needed to work hard if I wanted to get a decent grade. I am such a perfectionist and study every single day for hours until I am happy with what I have studied.

We got to choose which modules we wanted to do focusing on our career paths – I chose the journalism route and did most of the journalistic modules, which I did enjoy very much so. Compared to other degrees, my course had to do two 6000-word dissertations. When I look back, that was quite scary but I actually quite enjoyed writing them both. My first dissertation was about ‘The Future and Management of British Newspapers’ and my second dissertation was about ‘How Citizen’s Perceive Press Coverage of Political Scandals’. There is a pattern. Both were about news and politics – something that I have a passion for. This is why I enjoyed writing them because I had a passion for the topic. In both of them, I got really good 2:1’s.

Basically, all my other essays were about news too. I got Firsts in all my third year essays, which I am so happy with. I love writing essays a lot, mainly because I love writing in general. I also did a full year Media Law & Ethics module and I honestly loved that module, despite it being so difficult, it was so worth it. In order to become a good journalist, you must know the law. I have no idea how many times I have written about defamation in my third year essays. Law certainly did have an influence on me during my final year. Coming out of university and going straight into working for BBC News – I realised how crucial Media Law was, so it was definitely worth studying it.

Because this was my last year, I applied to be a section Editor for the student magazine to increase my journalism skills. I got chosen to be the Health and Fitness Editor due to my passion for this area. I must say, I challenged myself a lot with this role and learnt so much about leadership and assertiveness as well as writing good articles.

Graduation was enjoyable and a very proud day for me and my family.

After three tough years, a lot of struggle – being in and out of hospital for my eating disorder, in the end, I achieved a very high 2:1, which I am so happy with.

BsrBsT6IYAAiaj1

Going to university was the best decision of my life to be honest. It gave me so much confidence in myself and I developed a lot of skills for my career. Here I am now at the BBC. Dream job? Thank you university.

How I Got Into Journalism & Advice On How To Get Into Journalism

Image

People often ask me how I got into journalism so I thought I would do a blog post on it about both broadcast and print journalism and my top tips on how to get into journalism yourself.

I actually have no idea how I got into journalism to be honest because I just sort of fell into it. I did not ever say, “When I grow up, I want to be a journalist.” Not really.  I wanted to be a teacher (as most kids do), a singer, a dancer….I knew I always wanted to work in the media industry, specifically music but that has died down now and I will talk about that a bit more in a bit.

I always remember being fascinated by the news and what is going on in the world. When I was little, I watched and listened to newsreaders on TV and on the Radio and tried to imitate them. I always wondered what it would be like to be a newsreader, a TV presenter or a radio presenter…but I always felt like I could never be those things because of my lack of confidence and so I just turned to writing and music instead, which was easier as I am not much of a speaker.

Writing has always been one of my main passions. I can articulate myself better in writing rather than speaking. I used to keep a diary. My diary went everywhere with me. It was a very useful way of letting my feelings out. It kind of was my only friend – do excuse the cliché. The reason why, was because I always felt rather misunderstood and so when I wrote things down, I felt like I was getting it all off my chest and therefore felt better. Also, my diary (along with music) was a big part of my life when I was being bullied and my times in psychiatric units. It helped, a lot.

There has been a lot of studies showing a correlation between creativity and mental illnesses and I can definitely vouch for that. Writing has always been a release for me.

I would not say my favourite subject in school was English, however I did get a good grade in my English GCSE and I enjoyed a lot of the coursework. I love writing essays. I remember writing a GCSE English essay about something to do with the media and I got an A on that piece – my first ever A that I have ever got in my life and I was proud of it. I then realised that I am rather good at writing. I was praised by teachers saying how well written my essays are and that really gave me a bit of confidence – I actually was good at something.

Because I enjoyed music and had a passion for radio, I wanted to work in music radio or become a music journalist writing for a magazine. I started a blog and wrote about music – reviewing music/bands etc… but I just was not happy with it. I did not feel like I was getting anywhere with it and I did not enjoy it.

During my stint at BBC Radio 4 , I really got into news and politics. I met rather intellectual people everyday there such as newsreaders, producers, journalists, presenters, philosophers, politicians and authors. It was then when I felt like this is what I want to do. I want to make news and current affairs programmes for a speech radio station such as Radio 4. I want to create news and inform people.

Music really at that point, did not matter to be anymore. Well, of course it mattered but not in a career sense. I love music and always will, but I do not want to work in that industry anymore.

I remember a lot of the Tony Blair years. I was only little but the Blair era stood out as a lot of things happened in that Labour government, overshadowed by the Iraq war. News was on everyday in the house and Blair was not that popular in our house. Gordon Brown years were absolutely ridiculous too. I was not heavily into politics then but Brown absolutely destroyed the government.

However, when I visited the Houses of Parliament and saw how the House of Commons looks in real life – I pretty much fell in love with it.

I am following the Coalition government very closely and since Radio 4 and my time at LBC, I have quite an obsession with politicians and how they think, how they act, their policies. I have developed this kind of analytical mind about politicians and I love writing about UK politics. I actually would love to work at Westminister as a politician’s assistant. How weird. I do not support and have never supported a particular party because being a journalist has taught me to be impartial. I would not want to be political journalist though as I love writing about various things, as you can see by this blog.

Putting politics aside, I have realised that I love storytelling, I love writing, I love reading and I love meeting interesting people. I love informing people about certain issues. It does take a lot of guts to do what with having issues with anxiety but in order to be a journalist, you have to talk which is what I am working on and journalism is my own personal journey to getting better and conquering a lot of fears.

Something that has helped me emotionally has become something that I made into a job now, which is absolutely amazing.

So, these are my top tips if you want to become a journalist yourself…

Be Passionate

Obviously, if you want to become a journalist, you really have to know your stuff – you have to be on the ball all the time – watching, listening and reading the news everyday. Attend events. Go to the scene of the crime. Take notes. You have to be passionate about news and getting a story out there.

Write

Start a blog and write whatever you are passionate about. I do not write about something that I am not interested in. I write about something that really interests me and if I have something to say.

Read

If you know me, you would know that newspapers have always been something that I have read ever since I was little. I love newspapers and I have a collection of newspapers (mostly The Independent), including magazines too. Read as much as you can. Books, newspapers, magazines, online articles etc… It really helps with learning.

Work Experience/Internships/Graduate Trainee Schemes

I do not think I would be a journalist now if I have never done a work placement at a place as big as the BBC. You must have some kind of work experience in order to get some practical skills. Apply at the BBC, your local radio station, magazine, newspaper – anywhere to get your foot in the door.

If you have graduated from university, apply for Graduate schemes. The BBC provide a Journalism Trainee Scheme. Many top journalists have been on that scheme.

University

Not everyone who is a journalist is a graduate but most journalists that I have met have some kind of degree behind them. Most top journalists have a postgraduate degree but of course, that is not essential. It is good to have a degree anyway – it will definitely be easier to get a job in the field.

Volunteer

If you are at university, volunteer at your student radio station or write for your student magazine. Get involved with your community radio station or your community magazine. Get a few articles published and keep them for your portfolio.

Have Ideas, Be Creative and Most of All Learn How To Write A Good Pitch

When you are a journalist, you have to constantly write pitches to Editors. It could be for a newspaper, a magazine, a radio station and television. I was not prepared for the amount of pitches I will need to write. Everyone wants an idea. Something unique. You need to be creative and you need to learn how to write a good pitch. When I feel like I am good at pitches, I will be sure to write a blog post on it.

And Finally…Be Persistent

You will get a lot of rejections. There is no question about that. You will just have to keep on going. It takes a long time to get to where you want. You cannot give up!

Freshers 2013: Starting University

It is A-Level results day today (August 15th) and most of you will already know by now if you got into your chosen university or not. This is a blog post all about starting university and things I wish I had done to make my student life a little less stressful but if you want some information and advice on clearing go to – http://www.ucas.com/clearing

So, you have done it. You have got into university after months of hard work but it has hit you that you will have to (probably) move away, make new friends and live in a complete different environment away from your comfort zone. Sounds exciting yet very scary. My university experience was very different because I did not move away from home but that is another story for another blog post. These are some of my top tips for starting university…

Freshers Week

Freshers week is a chance to make new friends, get settled into your accommodation and get everything sorted for your course such as timetables, registration and sort out any problems you may have before officially starting.

Go to your freshers fair and sign up to any clubs or societies that interests you. Nothing interested me to be honest so I signed up to the Islamic Society which I did not even go to. Oh.

Of course, freshers week is known for going out partying and getting drunk so if that is your thing, go to them and have a good time. This is also a great chance to make new friends. Do be careful of the amount of alcohol you consume though. You do not want to be hungover during your first week of lectures. It will not start off smoothly if you are unwell.

However, if you are like me and do not drink or go clubbing (for religious reasons or not) or just not that much of a social person, then do something else instead. Drinking and going out is not a requirement for freshers week, it is just a stereotype. You do not have to do what everyone else is doing. Do whatever makes you happy and whatever you are comfortable with.

Friends

Making friends can be hard (or making the initial approach to make friends is hard) but when you are moving into Halls of Residence, you are almost forced to make friends because you will be living with these people for at least a year. The first set of friends you make will be your flatmates. Introduce yourself to anyone you see walking in the corridor. Similarly, there may even be a Facebook group of your Halls/course so introduce yourself on there and try and meet up with some of them. That way you will already have made friends without even meeting them yet which is a bonus and can give you a bit of confidence in the sense that you know you are not going to be alone. I have seen this happen many times.

Making new friends at university can be a very exciting thing and you may even become really good friends and form a genuine friendship but make sure you do not ditch your old friends at home. Make time for them too. Just because you have made new friends, does not mean you can forget about your old ones. Call them up once in a while and let them know how you are doing.

However, do not feel disheartened if you have not made friends at university yet. It will take time. They say the people you meet at freshers week, you will probably never see again. Making friends at university is something I have struggled with which I will go into more detail about in my blog post about living at home whilst at university so do look out for that.

Go To All Your Lectures/Seminars

Yes, you have an option to skip lectures because you may think you are not in school or college anymore and finally you have the freedom but think about why you are paying all that money for university? You can go out and have a good time but do not let it stop you from waking up to get to your lecture.

One thing I have seen in many people is that they go out clubbing the day before a lecture and either skip the lecture for a lie-in or come into lecture with a hangover. That is not good at all and I would not advise it. I would suggest to go out on nights that you do not have a lecture the next day. Leave the partying to Friday and Saturday nights.

Make Notes

This is something I have trouble with because of my short attention spam but I have realised that making notes is crucial because a few months down the line, you may need to revise for an exam and that note you made could do wonders to your memory. You can take your laptop into the lecture hall if you prefer typing your notes.

Reading List

Read about your modules and around your subject as much as you can. You will find that by doing that it will help you write your essays and it will be very good for referencing. Find your reading list and either buy the books or borrow them from the university library.

Managing Money

You are on your own now and therefore, you will need to learn to manage your own finances. Student Finance will come in and you probably never had that much money in your bank account before therefore making you tempted to spend it all on anything and everything. Resist that urge. Be sensible. Work out how much you can spend in a term including going out, food, rent, travelling etc…and stick to it. If you are struggling with money, get a part-time job or talk to the financial advisors at your university.

Talk To Your Tutor

You may be troubled by something and really struggling with work or you may not understand the work because the transition from school/college to university is a big one or whatever problem you may have, please do talk to your tutor as soon as possible. That is what they are there for. I found that keeping things bottled up will only just makes things worse.

Prioritise

Do not make your university life all work and no play. Do work really hard but make time for socialising and some alone time with yourself. Also, if you have a job, prioritise that around your lectures so your shifts do not clash.

All in all, starting university is a scary concept yet it can open a lot of doors for you and if you let it, you will have an amazing three years of your life.