Prospective students – tips on how to do well at interview

It’s that time of year again when I’m getting applications via UCAS for the BA Multi-Platform Journalism course. I read through each one carefully and check how many points the applicant says they hope to achieve. Everyone is invited in for interview as I do believe in meeting people and finding out more about them, than just reading a piece of paper. I also think it’s good for them to meet staff and see the place and explore it.

I wrote  a blog last year on this, giving some tips for when invited to interview. It’s surprising how many students don’t get an interview but are just offered conditional without being seen, which brings me to another blog I wrote on test drives. If you can go visit the institution and get a feel for it. If taster sessions are offered, take them up and if you get offered media work experience take it! And then there’s the question of UCAS points – another blog where I commented on the points offered on my course and the reason behind it. It currently stands at 180, but from Sept 2011 will move to 240.

The reason being I need to attract students who can write and speak English to a high standard; are well-read and can communicate their thoughts and opinions; plus here at ECM, we are unique in offering a chance to work at the Grimsby Telegraph one day a week and we have access to Seven, the local television station broadcasting on VirginMedia 879 (I’ll write a blog about that soon). Plus a large proportion of our journalism graduates work at the BBC, Sky as well as in other media outlets. Oh and we are a Skillset Media Academy! So because it’s Grimsby and you may think it’s the end of the universe – it isn’t. It’s actually very nice here and cost of living is cheap compared to elsewhere. If you have a car you can travel to Hull or Lincoln for a night out, if you don’t fancy Grimsby or Cleethorpes.

So if you want to know more about the BA (Hons) Multi-Platform Journalism course then call 01472 315550 or contact me through this blog or on Twitter @eastcoastmedia and of course to learn more about me and my ability see my youtube channel or visit my podcasts. I think you’ll find I practice what I preach and the last word can go to one of our recent industry speakers, Lee Smallwood, read what he had to say about East Coast Media in his blog.

Advertisements

Getting through clearing

It’s that time of year when many youngsters will be awaiting their grades. Will it be enough to get them on to the course of their choice? If not, what will happen and what can they can do about it?

If you haven’t achieved the grades to match the UCAS points for the course, there are various options you can take, so don’t feel it’s the end of the world (I know easy enough for me to say!).

UCAS clearing (http://www.hotcourses.com/clearing-2010/clearing-houses-clearing-help/16180339/news.html) is where you need to go. For those unable to get on their first choice, then clearing offers places on courses who have vacancies.

According to the news release (see link above) there are around 35,000 people every year who go through this system. There is hope for those. Getting on your first choice is competitive, but if it doesn’t happen, know you still have a chance of getting a place.

So once you get to clearing you’ll need to know make a decision about what course you’d like to apply for and where in the country you want to go. If it’s journalism then look no further than East Coast Media. Based at the Grimsby Institute, we are one of 22 Skillset Media Academies in the UK. This is a badge of excellence.

From September 2010 the BA (Hons) Multi-Platform Journalism degree will run. This is exciting, as there are very few programmes in the UK offering this. It has been written with assistance from industry to deliver graduates with the right skills and training.

The world of journalism has changed. Journalists are now expected to take photos, shoot and edit video, create audio packages – not only for traditional platforms but for online. This is bi-media, tri-media, whatever you want to label it and if you want to get a break into journalism, then you need to embrace this now.

At East Coast Media you will get the skills and knowledge to develop. There’ll be opportunities for work placements within the broadcast and newspaper industry. You’ll work alongside industry professionals and create real work for publication/broadcast as opposed to simulations. You’ll be encouraged to be creative and have ideas for 360 degree platforms. Recent students have worked on pilot television programmes with East Coast Pictures, an independent production company led by Julia Thompson,  former Director of Sony Entertainment UK. Those students also had to produce content for online and act as researchers, reporters, etc. It gave them real experience of working on a TV programme.

Tutors on the course are all industry practitioners, so you’re in good hands there and the course has excellent work placement relations with some big companies. You can expect your tutor to get to know you personally, rather than being a face among hundreds. This means that you do get one to one assistance and probably feel more valued.

So if it’s a career in journalism you wish to pursue and you’re passionate about it and motivated to do what you can to go far, then come to East Coast Media.

We will want to talk to you to find out why you want to the course and find out if you have the passion and motivation needed. Remember, ask us questions too. We will interview you and you’ll also have to sit an assessment test on the day and there is a written task to do as well. This thorough application process is to ensure you’re suited for the programme – we don’t just give places out to anyone. We need to know that you are right for the course, as much as we’re right for you. It’s all about quality on both parts.

If you know someone who is in this position and wants to do journalism then tell them about this blog. Follow @eastcoastmedia on Twitter. Maybe we’ll see you soon!

Tips to getting onto a journalism course

Here are some top tips if you’re thinking of applying for a journalism programme. I receive many applications and read through all of them.

Some applications are better than others, but all are invited for interview, as I believe people deserve a chance and it’s a great way to meet them face to face to find out what they’re like and how they respond. Not all, however, get a place on the course and many are rejected for various reasons. For some, it ‘s simply not being able to convey themselves and use English to a high level. Journalism is about writing and being able to tell a story in a variety of ways that actually engages an audience.

You’d be surprised at how many applications I read that are not well written or constructed. Do these people actually read through their work to check for errors and to ensure it flows and reads well?  While I write this blog, I am constantly reading it and re-reading it and changing things. I am never satisfied and take pride in my work. So first tip is to have an idea of what you want to say and construct it so it makes sense. Tip two, check for spelling and grammatical errors. So many applicants use lower case i, instead of I. It’s lazy and sloppy.

Don’t lie on your form. Be honest. You should be demonstrating why you deserve a place on a university programme. Journalism degrees are popular. You will be competing against many people. Look at what you have done while at school or college, which makes you stand out. Have you done work experience at a newspaper or radio station? Have you contributed to a school newspaper? Helped produce a community newsletter? Examples like this show your enthusiasm and passion in the subject. Simply saying you’ve always wanted to be a journalist, without being to able to show some determination, in my opinion, is not good enough. It shows you have commitment and a strong interest in the subject and will stand you out amongst thousands.

Another important thing, is ensure you have the grades to get you on the programme. There is no point in applying to a course that you will not get on to. I have had applicants send in forms and they clearly have not got enough UCAS points. Also ensure that you have met the entry requirements and if it says GSCE English at Grade C or above, don’t apply if you have it at D or not at all. With me these people get a letter recommending what they need to do. Many never come back, as they were not serious about getting on the course in the first place.

Also, if journalism is your subject, then demonstrate you read more than the local newspaper. While the local newspaper is good, demonstrating that you read other papers or magazines shows you take an interest. The same goes for TV and radio. If pressed, could you tell the interviewer why you like one programme or publication above another? Understand what journalism is and find out what a journalist’s role is. So many still come in talking about print journalism. They fail to realise (and this is probably because they’ve never looked) that print journalists use video to produce content for the web. So at least show you have a basic understanding of the career pathway you’re choosing.

These are some of the key issues. The next stage is when you get invited in for an interview and assessment. I’ll save that for another time.

So to recap on my top tips:

Tip 1 – Have an idea of what you want to say and construct it so it makes sense

Tip 2 – Check for spelling and grammatical errors

Tip 3 – Get involved with publications or writing while at school or college

Tip 4 – Ensure you have the grades

Tip 5 – Have a strong interest in journalism

Tip 6 – Understand what journalism is about

For more information on courses at East Coast Media call 01472 315550.