Byron’s degree helped him build a foundation in the journalism industry and start his career – even before graduation
Growing up in a single parent family, I always thought university was only for the rich and privileged… No way it was for me, or so I thought. The reality is, as I discovered, there is so much financial support out there.
Every day after school I used to pop by my Grandma’s house. I’d watch a couple cartoons and after tea she’d pass over the local papers’ football section so I could read the results. It was my first introduction to the news.
The years passed and as I got older and read more I began to see how accessible journalism can be, no matter what background you're from. That it’s for the people. If university was for me after all, then journalism would be the course that took me there.
The hard work paid off as I was offered a full time post before I’d even graduated.
I was a little nervous as I had next to no writing experience, but the course started from scratch and gave me everything I needed. What really helped is that the lecturers here are seasoned reporters with years of experience, which really rubs off on you. They’ve also got incredible industry contacts. In my second year the editor of the Portsmouth News gave a guest lecture that not only taught me about newspapers, but got me work experience on one too.
That opportunity has meant everything for my career. Instead of just having me make cups of tea, the paper put me to work right away. On my very first day they sent me out to interview a local MP. Now I don’t know if I’d shown myself capable or if they were just light on staff, but a few days later I was off on assignment to cover the Isle of Wight Festival. I’d never been to a music festival before, so I quickly bought a tent, hopped on the ferry and off I went; reviewing bands, making videos and interviewing people. That was a lot of trust for them to put in me when I come to think about it.
The editor of the Portsmouth News gave a guest lecture that not only taught me about newspapers, but got me work experience on one too.
I must have done an OK job as the paper offered me a part-time job during my third year at university. At times it was tough to juggle the work alongside my studies, but it allowed me to build a foundation in the industry and start my career early. Thankfully the hard work paid off as I was offered a full-time post before I’d even graduated. I had to get a day off just to attend my own graduation!
I’m still only at the very start of my career, but I’m already putting what I learnt at Portsmouth into practice. While I understand that university isn't the only option, if anyone reading this thinks that university isn’t for them because of their background, that they might not belong there, perhaps take a second look. It’s not just for the privileged and if you have a dream then you can make it happen.