Postgrad media and communications student & freelance writer and editor
Dear younger Hannah,
You’re extremely lucky to have always been surrounded by brilliant, kind, and
supportive friends and family. Without them, you probably wouldn’t be the person that you are today. There were times though, that you hesitated to do things…scared to show too much enthusiasm about certain things in front of certain people. Why? God forbid, I hope it wasn’t to look ‘cool’. You’re lucky that you had (genuinely cool) friends inspiring and urging you on to success. That would be my primary piece of advice: surround yourself with people that lift you up and love to see you thrive.
“It’s cliché, but make the most of any opportunities that come your way…you’ll thank yourself later.”
As much as discovering what you might wish to do in life, it might also let you know what you absolutely don’t want to do.
Get involved with all the extracurricular activities!! Contrary to popular belief, this does not make you a try-hard. Future employees want to see somebody that has taken it upon themselves to do something, as opposed to having things handed straight to them on a plate.
Picture this: you’re being interrogated on your future plans at a family gathering, and you suggest that you hope to work in the media…the half-impressed, the half-pitying phrase ‘oh good for you, often it’s who you know isn’t it?…’ may be thrown around. Please try not to listen and be put off your plans! Once upon a time, it was heavily based on contacts in the industry. But my advice: Make those contacts yourself!!! There are so many more great schemes, placements, and internships around these days, so always keep a lookout online. Send your CV to local places that you’d like to gain some experience at. Local is useful regarding accommodation and transport because a lot of work experience will be unpaid. Two days at a local business can give you invaluable experience and contacts, in the iconic words of TESCO (I think it’s TESCO), ‘every little helps!’.
So, Hannah, you think you might want to be a journalist? Great, but don’t close yourself off too quickly! A degree in journalism could be great, and it is great for some people. But don’t forget your love for sports, English, creative writing, and other aspects of the media. Perhaps pick something more broad…like a BA in English and Sport Science (which is also weirdly specific but ignore that for now). This crazy combo will provide amazing opportunities within and beyond your degree, offering a huge range of interesting and exciting modules. One moment you’ll be studying ideas of ‘sport, celebrity and place’ from leading academics, and the next, you’ll be doing a screenwriting module or studying Shakespeare. You are now a
multi-disciplined student and potential employee! This is part of the reason you will be successful in gaining a place on the 2019 BBC Kick Off Reporter scheme!
Insider info: At MediaCity in Salford, Manchester, you’ll overhear somebody say that students who studied journalism at university were one of the first groups to be eliminated from the application process. By no means does this mean don’t do a journalism course (I know plenty of successful young people that have taken this route). However, it’s just something to keep in mind – perhaps look at companies/organisations you might like to work for in the future and see what their preferred qualifications/degree programmes are; sometimes they like to train you a bit differently to what a specific journalism course might teach at a university or college.
For you, going to Loughborough University will be an amazing and pretty much life-changing decision – so much so, that you’ll go on to study a Master’s there in Media and Cultural Analysis! (which is pretty much a fancy way of saying Media and Communications). However, you should keep in mind that university is never the only option. It’s easy to think that, in a world obsessed with pressure, prestige, and productivity, there is no going back; once you’ve made a decision, you have to stick with it. But, that’s not the case – there’s no such thing as being past the point of no return – so don’t let others belittle your decisions or routes taken.
My three top tips for a younger me (that are still relevant to this day):
1. Try hard not to compare yourself to others; don’t measure your success with somebody else’s ruler!
2. Work hard, but not to the point of burning yourself out. Prioritise your mental health and realise the importance of rest.
3. Trust what you are doing. Take things with a pinch of salt and understand that more times than not, there will be room for error. Be kind to yourself.
All the best,
present-day Hannah xox